curse of the plaid lunchbox
The way all kids want cool kid stuff other kids have. And I would pause, stars in my eyes, to admire lunchbox displays wherever they appeared.
Lunchboxes were, in my household, a frivolity. Even thinking about wanting something so frivolous was a clear indication of lack of character. But I did want one. And my mother being a savvy observer of human nature caught the lunchbox drift and one day told me she had a suprise for me and whipped out —
A plaid lunchbox.
Things kind of worked that way in my family. If you truly wished for something, it might appear, but always in a totally aberrant form. And a plaid lunchbox was about as aberrant as you could get. Other kids did not carry plaid lunchboxes. Other kids carried princess lunchboxes. Other kids carried super hero lunchboxes. Other kids carried cartoon animal lunchboxes. Lunchboxes were a statement of self, a banner, a flag, an emblem of identity. And what little kid wants their emblem of identity to be freaking plaid?
In my family, though, there were rules: If it was on your plate, you ate it. If you asked for it, you used it. And if it was not worn out, you kept it. So —
I could not say it was a bad lunchbox. A lunchbox I would be mocked and ostracized for. A lunchbox that would make my grammar school days a living hell. A lunchbox worse than the mark of Cain. A WRONG LUNCHBOX.
But that lunchbox had to go.
It took three years of carefully orchestrated covert lunchbox abuse to wear that thing out. Three years of banging that lunchbox along cobble stone walls. Dropping it from rooftops. Leaving it out in rain. Tossing it off street corners into the path of swervey automobiles. But by third grade the [titanium alloy built to withstand nuclear detonation manufactured on freaking Krypton] lunchbox was finally starting to show signs of wear. And my mother one day looked at the dinged, scratched, dented, rusted, warped scarred one hinge broken PLAID lunchbox with that considering look she would sometimes get. And said, Hmm.
Then we visited my grandmother.
My grandmother was an English teacher. She, like me, went to school every day. She, like me, carried a lunchbox. And on that day my grandmother casually dropped the info she had replaced her lunchbox — and gifted me with her former lunchbox.
You know it was plaid, right? You saw that coming?
To be continued….