The Lemon Loaf Incident
Alright, let me start by saying that I’m wary of saying that how someone partakes of a lemon loaf directly reflects what kind of a person they are.
I do, however, think that how one partakes of a lemon loaf - and specifically an iced lemon loaf - suggests something about them (in conjunction with other data points as well, of course).
Let me explain.
It was the early 2000s, back when I was in consulting and it was one of those rare days when I actually wasn’t on the road. I had just come back from lunch and had brought an Iced Lemon Loaf from Starbucks as dessert.
This lemon loaf, if you’ve never had one, is about 4 inches wide, 3-ish inches high and about 1-1.25 inches deep. It’s a hefty slice of cake. It’s the right balance of spongey and firm, and the top of the loaf is crusted with a hefty sheet of icing, the best part.
(Yes, I know each slice is 490 calories, about what my entire lunch amounted to. Don’t judge me.)
I had taken it out of the wrapper and had placed it on a napkin on my desk as I tended to a few emails. As I did so, a fellow consultant walked into my office and seated himself across from my desk, looking to catch up on some topic or another.
As the civil host that I am, I waved my hand towards the lemon loaf, asking if he’d like a piece of it. He smiled, nodded his head and took a piece of it.
Only he didn’t just take a piece of it. He took the entire top half - including all of the top crust and all the icing with it. What was left was the bottom part - commonly referred to as the “dregs” - of the cake.
I looked down at the crust, then up at him, then down at the cake again, then back up at him.
He didn’t even notice. Didn’t skip a beat. Didn’t wonder why I just did a double take on a piece of cake, or rather what was left of it on my table. He just kept talking.
I don’t remember the conversation that day or how the rest of the discussion went, but I do remember the cake incident.
Because it reinforced the need for me to be cognizant of how I am with others. How I think. How I act.
That I need to be thoughtful of my hosts.
That I shouldn’t take advantage of their kindness.
That I should always defer to them.
That I shouldn’t take their graciousness for granted.
In many cultures, it’s customary of the host to offer the best piece of food to their guest. But let the host offer it first.
And if I do screw up in some way, I should be cognizant of the host’s reaction - try and read the situation, if you will - and try and make amends, as appropriate.
Or, to summarize, don’t take the entire top half of the lemon loaf!
Again, as I said at the start, how one partakes of a piece of cake doesn’t indicate all of who they are. And I’m wary of suggesting that.
But, depending on the situation and the nature of the encounter, it’s says something. Something that adds to something else, that adds on to something else, to give you a good picture of who they just might be.
Or it could just mean that I’m really, really protective of my Iced Lemon Loaf...