There’s an author who gave her writing students the assignment of writing about school lunches. This woman wrote about how defining those lunches were, how embarrassing yet important they were, how they determined if you were in fact cool or not. I’ve been sitting on my bed, trying like crazy to conjure up old feelings of panic or embarrassment or depressing memories related to my school lunches. Obviously I must have had trillions since I did go to school. I barely remember a lunch box but as far as the contents, nothing. Not even an apple. So there’s nothing to say about kindergarten or elementary school. I was extremely skinny then. This mean girl called me “bag of bones”. Maybe it was because I didn’t eat lunch. Maybe that’s why I don’t remember.
When I was in junior high, we got to leave the building, walk under the highway and over to either the Stuckey’s or some little diner. The un-named diner had those little mini juke boxes that were at the tables. Whatever happened to those things? Anyway, we would put in our order and go sit at one of the tables waiting for our number to be called. There were sandwiches and chicken fried steak and I’m not sure what else. My most vivid memories of that time are of a boy I liked. Jimmy Joe Wright. He was a toe head with blue eyes and was a year older than me. We never walked there together but did lots of staring across the booths. Such an exciting time. “Gimme a ticket for an aerorplane, ain’t got time to take the fast train. Lonely days are gone, I’m a goin home. Cause my baby just wrote me a letter”. Listening to that song on the juke box and staring at Jimmy Joe while eating chicken fried steak, those were the days. Still, no embarrassing times at lunch, just hormones.
High school. We got to drive at lunch. Big times at the Dairy Queen which we could actually walk to. Fried shrimp baskets with the best tarter sauce. Burgers, fries and ice cream. Nothing embarrassing about that. Now I’m at the end of my school lunch journey and still no bad memories. How did I miss out? I honestly do not remember a single negative thing related to food and lunch and school. Since I was so skinny early on, I am about to conclude maybe I didn’t eat lunch during those early years.
If I had to pick one thing out of my entire school lunch experience, I would have to say there were two things. One was Jimmy Joe and that song that we always played on the juke box. The other was learning about a dish I had never experienced until lunch in the cafeteria at Royse City Elementary (it was also a junior high and high school). My friends introduced me to ice cream and potato chips. We got those little vanilla ice cream cups. The word ice cream was no where to be found on the container; it was ice milk. You just pulled the paper top off and they came with a flat wooden spoon. My friends crushed up potato chips and mixed them in with the vanilla ice milk. It was amazing stuff and I felt so cool and wordly, being exposed to such an exotic treat.
I think it’s time for the next assignment.