What Your School Lunch Says About You
You with your Lunchables
You are the product of amazing marketing and/or busy parents without the time to make something in the morning. You have taken the legacy of New York City pizza and made a mockery of it, spreading pizza sauce over a pathetic cracker with a plastic stick that ought be used for spreading artificial cheese. You are the remnant of the American Dream: speed over quality, color over content, calories over all.
You with your Dunkaroos
You don’t need to share your pencil in class. You don’t worry about being picked for kickball. You have everyone’s attention and affection. Everyone squeals around you, pleading for a skateboarding kangaroo cookie, or, if lucky, the final swoop of the index finger into the pool of frosting. You relish in this power, gleefully rejecting each advance. But in your generosity, you offer the remains on your plastic wrapper. You’re evil.
You with your carrot sticks
You have nothing to share, nothing to trade, nothing to offer the intense negotiations around you at the cafeteria. You munch in silence, reading the nutritional facts on a friend’s pouch of fruit snacks, preparing your oral arguments to convince your parents to buy you some, noting that they contain real fruit juice and Vitamin C. You are smart enough to know it won’t work. But you have very pretty eyes and perfect vision.
You with your chocolate milk
You understand the essence of childhood. It is about adults compromising with their children, giving them the things that they need by mixing in something else they like. Like mathematical video games.
You with last night’s leftovers
Did you bring garlic bread to go with your chicken parm? A side salad? A corkscrew? How old are you?
You with the bologna sandwich
You don’t ask many questions. You don’t question what animal bologna comes from. You don’t question if American cheese is as much cheese as Swiss or cheddar. You make no distinction between mayo or Miracle Whip. You like what you like. You like that white bread can stick to the roof of your mouth. No judging. I do too.
You with affectionate notes from your parents in your lunchbox
You have asked again and again for this to stop, knowing that insecure goons like myself will wave the Winnie the Pooh stationary around in mocking pleasure. Secretly though, you are glad that they do not stop. School can be scary. You like being reminded of a time when Pokemon cards didn’t validate your status in the class. You like rereading the Boxcar Children while everyone else has a riot over Tiana holding DelRoy’s hand at recess. Simply said, you miss third grade.
You with your Juicy Juicy
Eagerly enjoying 100 percent Juice for a 100 percent kid. You watch PBS, particularly Arthur and Wishbone. You dream of one day reading The Count of Monte Cristo or Romeo and Juliet on your own. You sometimes sneak in watching Hysteria. Because it’s sort of educational.
You with your cafeteria meal
You graciously acknowledge the valiant attempt of your lunch ladies, who decided to offset the gravy of grease that sits upon your pizza by adding a mushy apple on the side. You are a planner, analyzing the schedule weeks in advance, deliciously anticipating next Thursday’s special: fish sticks. You are a schmoozer, knowing precisely which lunch lady will be persuaded with a smile or your story detailing your anxiety over the afternoon’s spelling test. She adds extra fries to your Styrofoam tray. You possess all the tools for a revolution: ketchup packets, fruit cups, and your weapon of choice, the spork.
And me, with my peanut butter and jelly in a plastic grocery bag and apple
Of all the things that do not need to be placed into a historical, psychological, or emotional context, the peanut butter sandwich is one.
It is simple: Skippy over Jif. Smooth over chunky. Strawberry over grape. The classics. I’m like most kids. We don’t overthink things.
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Even as I write this now I am debating whether or not to erase it all together.
When I say I’m in love with you, I mean I love the story I can tell to my next lover, about my ex-lover, about how beautiful things were, how intense, how storybook, what a couple we were, and how you gradually, inexplicably, painfully, bit by bit, disappeared.
“I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.”
I was 24 and, while not gay, ever since college I had been getting more attention from gay men than from heterosexual women.