Grand Theft Lunchbox

I was not one of those kids who did the school lunch deal, which is probably why I've lasted this long. Thinking back, my heart goes out to all those kids forced to eat that stale cheese (with pizza built somewhere into it), meat nuggets of mystery, and the ever-nefarious "brownie" that all seemed to invariably land wrapped in Styrofoam. In many ways though, being a lunchbox kid was worse socially than it was gastro-intestinally. On the mean streets of the lunch room, a war was brewing between the trayers and the baggers, and you did not want to be on the wrong side of that table.

In my day, we didn't have no fancy Vitamin Water to take to school, we had a juice box, and if we didn't have a box, we had a a device known as a thermos that took up all the room in your bag and crushed your sandwich. Opening this juice box was a piece of work, and involved a process similar to poking a baseball bat through a sheet of Saran Wrap. If you poked too soft, it'd never go through. If you poked too hard, you'd have a geyser of punch in your face. With a Thermos though, once you dropped the straw inside, that was it for your ability to extract liquid unless you took the top off and guzzled it like a loser... (guilty as charged).

Food was another story, because if you came in with something good, all the trayers wanted a piece of it. Opening your lunchbox was like driving a Viper through a real seedy part of town. If you got up to get a napkin, you could only expect that someone has jacked your chunky peanut butter sandwich. It was a tough boy-eat-banana-world, devoid of mercy or respect, but to us elementary schoolers, it was a place we called the cafeteria.

Of all the years I spent fighting in the war, only one battle turned out me: 1, bully: 0. Every day I came in, this other kid would take my lunch. If I came in with any sort of candy, it was his. If I came in with a granola bar, it was his. If I came in with nothing but a sandwich, he'd take it and pull out the meat. Every day I had to surrender something. So one day, I decided to get even. My mom gave me confectioner's chocolate to bring in--the real nasty 90% pure ground cocoa kind. Sure enough, the moment he saw chocolate he snatched it up and took a bite. This kid practically puked! His face went sour and he spit it out in a napkin. "Sick! What kind of chocolate you eating man?" I don't ever remember him stealing my lunch again.

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