November 21 – that awful question

that awful question
each morning, again at noon
what is in my lunch?

Before we begin let me say that I understand that the ‘awful question’ I will be discussing would be a welcome issue in much of the United States and the world for that matter.

That being said, it is an awful question.

I question I face each work day and have faced since about 1972 when I started bringing my lunch with me to Riverside Junior High School.

Not, “What is for lunch?”

But, “What is in my lunch?”

I make and pack my own lunch each morning.

I dread it.

For one thing, coffee is about the only thing I want when I get up.

Coffee is about the only thing that my stomach will stomach.

There was a time when my favorite breakfast was an ice cream sandwich.

There was a glorious period in history when Oreo Ice Cream sandwiches were available.

At my age, that just doesn’t seem appropriate, so coffee it is.

How then, with food not something I want to think about, can I make a lunch?

I watch the clock and as the minutes run out of morning, I say to myself, “Got to do it!”

At this point, all I want is to get this over with.

What is the fastest sandwich I can make?

I check the fridge.

Any cold cuts?

Cheese?

Any packable fruit?

I make an uninspired sandwich as quickly as I can.

I start with and empty cold cut container to hold the sandwich.

We save these containers and their lids for leftovers and such.

I like these better than a baggie as I have eaten too many peanut butter sandwiches that have been squashed flat.

I take the empty container and toss in a piece of bread.

Then I drop a slice of cold cuts or cheese or cold cuts and cheese or maybe spread peanut butter on it.

Then another piece of bread on top and snap on the lid.

The sandwich is done and in the lunch bag.

Now the chips or pretzels or maybe, if I am really lucky, some oreos which I put into another plastic container and into the lunch bag.

Is there any fruit?

An apple, orange or banana?

If the oranges are clementines, I pack 2.

If its a banana, I have to think if its edible.

I have to ask that question because my wife likes bananas to be light green and chewy

How she can eat an unripe banana is beyond me.

There are some days when we have leftovers.

A container of lasagna or chicken alfredo is more than lunch, its a relief that I don’t have to make anything.

Often at dinner the night before, I get excited when I see that there are leftovers for my lunch.

I will be sitting with my coffee and watching the clock move and say to myself, lunch is ready to be packed up, and I sit for one more minute with a smile for my good fortune.

I slide the container in my lunch bag.

Wrap a fork in napkin.

A plastic fork?

Well.

That just isn’t right is it.

I drop the fork into the lunch bag and seal up the Velcro flap.

Lunch is packed in my back pack.

That should clear up any mystery as to what is in my lunch bag each day but, for me, the question still nags at me.

When lunch time rolls around, which is 11AM for me, I still ask myself, “What’s in my lunch?”

I am hungry now and hopeful.

Even though, I know the answer.

I am reminded of the summer when my brother, Tim, worked in construction.

He needed at least three sandwiches a day.

But he couldn’t stand the thought of, one, having to make them, and, two, knowing what was in his lunch.

Not that he was any master of the kitchen.

I have a memory of him standing in the kitchen holding an empty water pitcher and a can of instant powdered lemonade and saying to me, “do you know how to make this?”

Anyway, my brother Tim started paying my brother Pete a dollar a day to make his sandwiches.

That lasted until there was an argument over the selection of sandwiches.

Tim wanted them all different,

Pete felt that a ham sandwich with a slice of cheese WAS different from a cheese sandwich with a slice of ham.

I understand what Tim wanted.

I know what is in my lunch.

Maybe that is why it is such an awful question.

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