You remember the joys of the school lunch tray, right?
You know, it was that segmented TV-dinner-looking, plastic-formica mind-meld thing where your school slopped helpings of the day’s cuisine for your enjoyment and gut-churning agony.
The school lunch tray was always teeming with joys like …
Slimy spinach …
Greasy pizza …
Cardboard meatloaf …
Plastic mixed vegetables …
Tiny spoiled cartons of milk …
And, God help you … “Cook’s Choice.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure if our cooks had had their druthers, that last would have been loaded with spit and dandruff and dog urine and maybe hemlock.
Anyway, the good news is that once you graduate, you never have to see one of those compartmentalized swill-buckets again.
Except … you totally do.
I mean, if you have kids or grandkids or attend school board meetings or go to flea markets out in a field somewhere … well, chances are you’ll encounter a school lunch tray now and then.
And when you do, some terrifying crap is going to go down.
Here’s what to expect …
You Smell Farts
Sorry to be crass (I’m really not sorry), but schools smell bad. Real bad.
And lunchrooms are right up there with locker rooms as the absolute worst of the worst in any given school building.
That goes double for high school, which is probably the last place you saw a school lunch tray as a kid.
And what happens when you cram a couple hundred teenagers into a 1980s crapeteria serving up as much suet-laden pizza, sour chocolate milk, and year-old apple cobber as they can jam down their throats?
Lunchrooms smell keenly fart-y, and it will all flood back to you when you see that shiny tray.
You Taste Grease
And speaking of that tray and those pizzas, what’s the first thing you think of when you see that yawning biggest well gaping back at you?
Right … school pizza.
You remember it, right? It was the prize of school lunch, because it was pizza.
It also happened to be about equal parts sponge and bacon grease, with maybe a few hunks of candle wax layered on top as “cheese.”
You could do some pretty amazing things with the pizza at our school — I remember more than one kid wringing it out like a rag and filling the big compartment with hot grease.
Then making some nerd (possibly me) drink it.
Bad vibes that you’ll taste in an instant when a school lunch tray flashes at you.
You Hear “Panama”
Our junior high school had a jukebox in the lunchroom, and it was the first real live jukebox I had ever seen.
It was cranked up to earsplitting levels, and it played all the time during lunch.
That fall, “Panama” by Van Halen was a popular number, and it ran at least twice each lunch period.
To this day, I can hear David Lee Roth belting out the vocals to this baby whenever I smell greasy pizza or smell farts or see a school lunch tray.
And vice versa.
Even if you didn’t have a jukebox in your lunchroom, and even if you were gobbling from school grease pits during some other time period, I can just about guarantee there was a song that narrated your days.
“Panama” is more a state of mind, after all, than an absolute.
Your Stomach Rolls
Yeah, look … even when you were a teenager, school lunch made you gag.
I know it did. And if it didn’t, you’re either a liar, a damn liar, or a pig. Which, to be fair, a lot of teenagers are. Maybe most.
Still and all, even most piggy teens gag with school lunch.
And there’s not an adult worth his salt that can choke through all the ghostly, greasy farts that seeing a school lunch tray evokes without having his stomach lurch a time or three.
You’re an adult, though, so try to at least be dignified enough to hit the trash can.
Your Face Breaks Out
Does greasy food make you get acne?
Hell if I know.
What I do know, though, is that the only thing that rivaled the oil levels on my school lunch tray in high school was the sheen I wiped off my face each night.
And I was sorta light on the self-lubricating face gel, comparatively speaking.
With oily skin, of course, comes pimples … acne … zits … face volcanoes.
Like all the other joys of high school, your pizza face will come rushing back in the cold, glinting light reflecting off a glimpsed lunch tray.
Your Palms Sweat
Why were you nervous as a kid?
Was it your fat butt?
Your crush on Cindy Farber?
Your crush on Caleb Farber?
That big algebra test right after lunch?
Just your general suckiness eating at you?
You may have suppressed whatever insecurities gnawed at you all those years ago, but they’re still there.
Waiting for the next time you run into a school lunch tray.
You Pop a Boner
How do I say this delicately?
Well, I don’t … so I’ll say it indelicately — teenagers are horny.
And when you get scores and scores of them together in one place, man, the hormones will be raging.
It’s been like that forever, including when you were a kid.
We were all walking sacks of bad choices in high school, and all that can be yours again, if only you can find a school lunch tray.
Maybe it’s the combination of all the stuff above flooding back to you, but that lunch tray will make you feel like a young buck again, for a fleeting moment at least. (And if you’re a woman, whatever the female equivalent of a young buck is. Blushing doe? Vibrant doubloon?)
So step away from the raw oysters … unless you’re eating them from the dessert bin of a school lunch tray.
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End Date: Sunday 10/11/2020 16:32:04 EDT
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