Quite recently I took the plunge and got my summer haircut. It’s never such a big commitment for guys since having a short style means even if the cut is brutal, it’s not long before your hair has grown out enough for the errors to be disguised – or until you can get another hair cut. Since moving to Winnipeg my hair has become the sole responsibility of an awesome hair stylist who Emma and I thoroughly enjoy. We’ve mentioned him before, and the fact that in July he’ll be opening a new salon in Osborne Village. We can’t wait for The Hive!
While he was cutting my hair he mentioned checking out the blog and really enjoying what we have to say about moving to Winnipeg. I was of course flattered that he took the time to read our blog despite being a new dad, new salon owner, and a generally busy and highly sought-after stylist. However, after chatting about his favourite posts, he asked me if I know about the way that Winnipeggers talk about “the lake”? I responded that of course, yes, I hear people talking about going to the lake or the cabin all the time. I know that the promise of life at the lake/cabin is what pulls many Winnipeggers through the long and cold winters. “The Lake” is a culture, and an enigma ; yet, as my hair stylist explains it to me, “the lake” is also an excuse for sly Winnipeggers!
After he dropped this bombshell on me, I had a million questions. I asked if he had ever used the excuse of “going to the lake” to weasel out of an event. His response: he and his wife went to the lake instead of attending a scheduled event for his brother’s wedding. To be fair, he pleaded, the wedding was something like a 10-day process of events and all they really missed was a brunch-type meal with family. I guess he was in a lot of trouble for missing the meal (he was a groomsman, I believe) however he doesn’t regret heading out for some R ‘n R with the wife. I asked if he had ever ditched a social in order to head to the lake. His response was accompanied by a look of shock and consternation: “Oh, of course!”
He explained to me that going to “the lake” is a generally-accepted Get Out of Jail Free card for Winnipeggers…and the friends you blow-off are normally quite tolerant of your choice to get out of town for the weekend instead of joining them for whatever function here in the city. Each year in southern Manitoba there are only a limited number of weekends with favourable weather, and to forego three or four days at the lake in order to attend one event is generally frowned-upon. People understand each others’ need to enjoy the vacation property, and like a secret handshake, a coy smile, or a tell-all wink, when you say: “Sorry man, I can’t make to your barbecue ‘cuz the wife and I are heading to the lake this weekend” – you’ve got the green light!
I suppose it would be unethical (at least by Winnipeg o’ My Heart standards) to use “the lake” as your excuse to get out of an event when you actually have no intention of heading out of town. I also assume that you wouldn’t use this excuse to ditch a major event like a wedding, graduation, or an 80th birthday party. However, I wouldn’t put it past Winnipeggers to have the car packed-up, idling, and anticipating the moment the church doors open; the second the mortarboards are tossed into the air; or, that exact last swallow of birthday cake and swill of Earl Grey tea…
“The lake” beckons, and Winnipeggers answer the call. Have you ever used the excuse of heading to the lake or the cabin in order to get out of attending an event in the city? Would your friends and family antagonize you for this, or knowingly signal their approval? Are you a liar if you use this excuse knowing you’re not actually heading out of town? If you have any tips for us Wo’MHers, please send them along; but, can it wait until Monday? We’re headed to the lake… 😉