The XY Lemonade Affair

by James Adams

This is the second installment of Memory Mondays, where we give you a glimpse into XY Unlimited’s turbulent, glorious, and frequently embarrassing past. You can compound our shame or bolster our pride by leaving a comment below. 

[We published this infamous tale as part of our May 2013 bid to be #1 on ArtistSignal]

One of XY’s most tragic moments came tumbling out of a plastic lemonade pitcher.

Color coordinated outfits

Look at that color coordination!

It happened back in our early street-performing days, when we would set up our instruments on Downtown Santa Monica’s gritty streets every weekend and play for passers-by. It’s hard to get someone’s attention on a busy street, and we frequently tested new ways to make folks pause momentarily and listen to our music: Popular covers, cute stuffed animals, comics featuring band members, exceptionally color-coordinated outfits…we experimented quite a bit, and occasionally got the desired results.

One day, Michael mentioned that he had a top-secret idea, and, in his Michael way, would only tell us that it involved lemonade. Unbeknownst to us, Michael planned to make an entire pitcher of homemade lemonade –for the first time in his life – and offer free cups to anyone who stopped and listened to us. Since he had never made lemonade before, Michael had no idea how many lemons or how much juicing it takes to fill an entire pitcher (hint: a lot, and a lot). He began his lemon quest at 11pm; four sweat-and-lemon-juice covered hours later, Michael finally possessed a beat-up plastic pitcher filled to the brim with organic lemonade. He carefully recorded the lemonade’s ingredients in brown sharpie on sickly yellow scotch tape plastered to the pitcher’s exterior.

XY Lemonade

A lemonade product that takes “DIY” design to the next level!

We had an early performance scheduled that morning, and Michael and I had agreed to meet beforehand to pick up the band’s sound equipment. I arrived at our storage location right on time. In an unusual turn of events, Michael did not – in fact, he was quite late. I called multiple times and received no answer, but I assumed he would show up shortly, so I took the time to lightly snooze in my front seat. I awoke as Michael’s silver SUV screeched past my left side and swung into a parking spot a few cars in front of me. I sensed trouble. Sure enough, I heard the car door open, something clatter to the ground, and Michael scream an unspeakable expletive at the top of his lungs, shattering the morning tranquility and undoubtedly frightening a number of neighborhood sleepers.

Inigo Montoya

“Fezzik! Fezzik! Listen. Do you hear? That is the sound of ultimate suffering. My heart made that sound when Rugen slaughtered my father. Michael Kohl makes it now.” – Inigo Montoya, from The Princess Bride

It turns out that Michael couldn’t pick up my phone calls because he had been holding his precious lemony beverage wedged between his left thigh and the car door, left hand on top of the lid, right hand on the wheel. He placed it there after a couple of bad spills had already depleted the hard-won liquid, which prompted him to find a safe haven for his treasure. When he arrived at our meeting point, however, sleep deprivation, anxiety, and frustration conspired against him: he opened the car door without thinking and, in a single moment, gravity foiled Michael’s hard work and high hopes. Not to mention a good pitcher of lemonade.

Michael spiraled into an unshakable gloom. Out of respect for our wounded comrade and because Sri Lankan parade floats had unexpectedly taken over our usual performance space (true story, it was a Sri Lanka festival), we called off that day’s performance. Just as we were all about to leave with our heads hung low, saying our goodbye’s around Michael’s car, he burst out laughing with the abandon only three hours of sleep and utter disappointment can bring. Chuckles soon overwhelmed us all, and before we parted ways we exchanged hugs and smiled hard at life’s ridiculousness.


Life gave us lemons, and we made lemonade. Then we spilled all of the lemonade, but we had each other. So that was alright.

Do you have your own “lemonade” story? Have you ever had to laugh off an utter disaster? Tell us about it below!

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4 Responses to The XY Lemonade Affair

  1. Liz Soto says:

    This actually made me laugh out loud. As bad as I felt for Michael, I couldn’t help but laugh at the thought of him cursing and screaming for his poor pitcher of lemonade. The only embarrassing story I can remember right now is the time I wore two different colored high-heeled shoes to work. As I was getting dressed for work, I put one of each shoe on to see which would go better wth my outfit. It wasn’t until I was walking from my car to the office that I realized I had never made a decision. I had to spend the next ten hours trying to hide my feet from the world. At least all of my coworkers had a great laugh.

  2. pOpz says:

    Couldn’t you have just bought some frozen lemonade and called it organic? That’s what any sane person would do.

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