Anne Lamott has an entire chapter in her book Bird by Bird on school lunches. I loved it. So much can be pulled from your childhood just through the memories of a school lunch.
For example, my mom never had Ziploc bags (sorry Mom)….she always used the cheap bags that you had to flip over to close…..but instead of flipping the fold over she used a twist tie. The twist tie smushed two corners of the sandwich turning it to wheat-jelly-gel. For a child (and still as an adult) with a bread phobia, this made 32.8% of the sandwich inedible. I always eyed the Ziploc bags of my friends with jealousy. I asked for Ziploc bags once and my mom told me they were too expensive.
We can’t afford plastic bags?! End. of. the. world.
I thought about trading in Alice, my new Cabbage Patch Doll, for a lifetime supply of premium plastic zipper lunch packaging….instead I talked my mom into buying me a lunch ticket. (Um…lunch ticket is more expensive than adding in Ziploc bags…something isn’t adding up.) That was awesome until I realized I had to either drink milk or die of thirst. I gagged at the smell of lunch milk…chocolate milk was the worst. It wasn’t anything like the chocolate milk I made at home. Then a kid found a centipede in his vegetable soup. The horror of it all caused lunch amnesia for the next few years. My only consolation was that I wasn’t on the bottom of the totem pole at least: one kid in my class had parents who gave him whole unwashed carrots…..with the green stuff still on it….and Spam.
Because of my childhood lunches, to this day, I am obsessed with Ziploc bags. I put everything in them: lunches, snacks, toiletries, photos, clothing, junk, donations…..sometimes I even put trash in Ziploc bags. I’m also obsessed with Doritos because I dreamed of having those in my lunch. Instead I got either super-green-algae cookies (apparently it will make you live to be 100 for $500 a month) or Stoned Wheat Thins (tastes like cardboard). Sometimes I got a banana but it made my sandwich bread smell like banana….and I can’t eat banana-scented bread. I almost threw up just even writing about it now. Now I am hyper-lunch-aware. I’m sure Boo thinks I’m psychotic-lunch-lady:
Did you get enough to eat? Was the mac and cheese cold, hot or just right? Do you want more variety? Did your bread smell like banana? Does anyone else have a lunch you wished you had?
Anne writes in Bird by Bird, “Remember how in elementary school, grape jelly was the best in your lunch, strawberry jam was Okay, but raspberry was real borderline? Can you talk to me about your experiences with these things? And my friend went into an impassioned, disoriented riff about how there was too much happening in raspberry jam, too many seeds per spoonful. It felt like there were all these tiny little pod people in it. It was Body-Snatcher jam. My friend then mentioned apricot jam, which was even worse than raspberry.”
Ha. When I read that I had apricot jam nightmares flooding back. We always had apricot jam….but never enough grape or strawberry. And we always had plenty of raspberry jam too, but I happened to like the seeds. But if my mother had made a PB&J sandwich with apricot jam, and used a twist tie baggie to package it, I’m pretty sure I would have run away from home.