A long time ago, I frequented a chiropractor who hailed from Australia. He was a good chiropractor, as far as that goes. Looking back, I’m not so sure that he was Australian, and maybe instead it was his wife who hailed from down there. They may have met at chiropractic school, that one in some heartland state where every chiropractor goes. Or they may have met somewhere else, I can’t be certain now. But I am certain that one time I was at their house, because later, after the chiropractic part of our relationship was over, I sold their Lake Geneva home for them. It was at their house that I first tried Vegemite.


Even then, I’m not sure if I tried it, or if I merely smelled it, because to do the latter would be enough to deter the prior. I watched as his children greedily ate the brown paste on their morning toast, and I thought to myself that I had entered some sort of parallel universe, where what was wrong is now right, and where what is awful was somehow not. I thought about the small clicking device that he would place against my shoed feet and click it, thinking that I was being cured of a fundamental spine issue, and I thought that if that was indeed the accepted sorcery, then perhaps it made sense why vegemite was the preferred breakfast smear.

I didn’t need to have that experience with Vegemite to know that I didn’t like it. I didn’t need to be presented with a slice of toast, smeared with that brown semi-solid in order to judge it and dismiss it. A yeast extract, dark brown in color, with the consistency of gritty, stiff molasses? With that I know that it’s not for me, whether or not I had seen it in person and smelled it with my own nose, held it in my own shaking hands.

This is why when I found myself at another area lake last week, showing homes there because not enough of you are calling me to see homes here, I didn’t really need to walk down the pier to understand what the water was all about. I could see it from the house, from up the lawn and through the trees. I could see water that wasn’t the color of the water I prefer, and I knew that I would need to bite my tongue and pretend that the water was water, and because it was water then that would be enough. Also, I cannot bite my tongue.

Another lake was on the tour, and this lake was well known in this area, having boasted several expensive home sales over the years. The lake had nicer water, not as soupy as the other lake, but still not like the water I know here. I walked to the end of the pier, wobbling over that metal-posted structure of questionable stability, and when I got there, I looked down at the water, and at the bottom of the lake. The distance from the top of the dock, (this sort of structure should not be called a pier, and I apologize for my earlier mistake), to the top of the water was perhaps one foot. The distance from the top of the water to the top of the lake floor was perhaps another two feet. Had I ran down that pier, assuming it wouldn’t break apart like an old rope bridge in an old-timey Saturday morning cartoon, I could dive off the end and still have at least the lower half of my body sticking out of the water. This is unacceptable.

I drove around that lake, and the other, and I found myself repeating the same tired refrain, the one that agents from those lakes must find themselves repeating just as often. It’s close to Lake Geneva, I’d say. This was all I could come up with when searching for superlatives, and I am no stranger to exaggeration. This would be like offering someone a steaming slice of Vegemite toast and telling them that it’s sort of like strawberry jam. Yes, both are spread on toast, but one makes you happy and the other makes you question everything you’ve ever known.

Activity this year on area lakes has been high. Delavan is quite active. Powers, too. Lakes Mary and Elizabeth look alive. Lauderdale is moving nicely. Geneva has a recent spate of activity that looks nice on paper, but it seems to me that the markets on the other lakes are more uniformly fluid. This is why I propose a new set of house-hunting rules. If you are considering purchasing a property on any lake that isn’t Geneva, and it’s within 400 miles of Chicago, this is what you must do.

You must, without delay, jump off the supposed pier that is actually a dock, the one that’s in front of the house you’re considering buying. If you jump off the pier and smash your legs into the mucky bottom, quickly towel off, go home and shower thoroughly and diligently, then come to Geneva for a real jump off a pier.

If you jump in the water, and you’re somehow small enough that you don’t break your legs, you should float in the water for a bit. If the water, at this point in the summer, is over 80 degrees, you should immediately get out of the water, repeat the showering stage from before, and come to Geneva where the water is a delightful 76 degrees. Warm lake water is for Florida ditch ponds, the ones with the brain-eating amoebas.

If you jump in and the water is sub 80, then you must swim a bit. Back and forth and the same again. You must now let some of that lake water into your mouth. You have no choice. Open your mouth and let the water in. Did you like it? Did you taste things in it that you’d rather not taste? If so, do the leaving and showering thing, then brush your teeth and use mouthwash for a few hours before coming to Geneva. Jump in, swim, let some water into your mouth to wash away your earlier mistake.

If you jump in, and the water is cool, and you can swim without scraping your legs on the bottom or being consumed by seaweed and algae, and the water inside your mouth feels and taste okay, then you’ve passed the swim test. But let’s be honest, you wouldn’t actually be able to pass that battery of tests on any lake but Geneva, but I’ll humor you. If the water test has been passed, then you must go rent a boat.

Once you have rented a boat, note I said a boat, not a pontoon because there is a difference, then you should take a cruise around that lake. Did the boat ride end sort of right after it started? Yes? Then take the boat back, demand a refund for your unused hours, and come to Geneva. Our boat rides take a couple of hours, because real boat rides shouldn’t make you dizzy from the continual right, or left, turn.

I could add more things to your list, but there’s no point. If you’ve actually considered the above, you’re already at Geneva, marveling at the importance of it all. Our lake is big, it’s clean, it’s deep and it’s rare. It’s not like other lakes, and that’s not because it’s busy on a Saturday afternoon or because the real estate is expensive. It’s not like the other lakes because it’s better than the other lakes, and I’m telling you that as I guy that almost once tasted Vegemite.

About the Author

Leave a Reply