Going to “the lake”

July 3rd, 2009 by Aaron

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… 😉

5 Responses to “Going to “the lake””

  1. Marianne says:

    I would agree that going to “the lake” totally is a “get out of jail free card” when it comes to missing events in the city. The flip side of that is that true “lake people” will question why you would even plan an event on a weekend in the summer in the CITY?! Lake people get married on Thursdays so that no one (probably themselves included) has to miss a weekend at the lake, or they move the whole affair to “the lake”. In late spring you try and see all of your city friends (or friends with cabins/cottages at other lakes) and say goodbye to them until the fall.

    As we speak I’m personally counting down the days until my summer vacation at “the lake” (all the way from Vancouver to Lake of the Woods)….21 days to go!!

  2. Aaron says:

    AH! I love your perspective on this, Marianne! I think you’ve nailed it when you say that “lake people” would ask you to give your head a shake for planning something in the city…on a weekend. I also find it fascinating that “lake people” understand the need for lake time so well that they would plan their wedding on a Thursday. It makes sense to me, and I’m not even a lake person…yet!

    Can’t wait until you’re out to visit! 3 weeks and counting (down)! 🙂

  3. Mr. Nobody says:

    I went to the lake, but after getting swarmed by skeeters and ticks I ventured to the beach. I marveled as I looked out at the brown scummy foaming shoreline, and quickly realized I made the right decision. Building my home to second as a cottage was a wise move. The pool awaits.

  4. jeanie says:

    Marianne nailed it with her comments. I grew up with a cottage out near Kenora — and I can remember my parents just groaning when someone would have a wedding on a weekend in the summer!

    But even more scandalous was if that wedding was on a long weekend in the summer. And smack dab in the middle of it!

    I don’t know if I consider going to the lake a get out of jail free card. It just means that I’m booked up and regardless what it is (except for weddings, really), I don’t attend.

    There are so few nice weekends in this province… and I’m determined to enjoy every one of them at the lake!

  5. […] Winnipeg has changed a lot in the time I’ve been here. We have the Jets now, an Ikea, two Target stores, more coffeeshops and shawarma, and better garbage and recycling services. I’ve changed a lot too: I’m a homeowner, I’m married with one kid and another on the way next month, I have a small but cherished network of friends and neighbours and acquaintances — several of whom I met through blogging, which is seriously awesome.  I am familiar with the secret handshakes of the city: not to pronounce the “l” in kolbassa, what the big deal is with the BDI, where to go if I want to C’mon Down, and how to get out of jail free any weekend of the summer. […]

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