Who could forget public school hot lunch? Oh, and the famed "hot lunch line".
Even though I never once touched the stuff (I always brown bagged it) to this day simply contemplating the phrase "hot lunch" tickles the gag reflex of my very soul.
So today my co-worker is eating something which brought me back instantly to the smell of a cheaply fried something mixed with those grey recycled corrugated cardboard trays, a carton of whole milk... BARF!
I can't explain it but it's one of those smells that’s stored in your brain, quite obviously, forever. For I haven't been inside a school cafeteria in many moons and still it brought me back faster than a Rupert Sheldrake theory.
Gee, I don't know what it was that made it all so gross and unappetizing. Maybe coming from a Mediterranean family where food was our lifesblood and passion; something about the lifeless utilitarianism of a public school cafeteria sucked all the life out of those chicken patties and tater tots for me.
The lunch ladies were stereotypically old fraus; cranky and nasty with liver spots galore; dressed like surgeons serving up ladles of unidentifiable slop behind mammoth stainless steel counter tops which were as aesthetically pleasing as an emergency room. Hmmm maybe that's what did it?
Even in high school my phobia of school lunch continued. I never ate anything that wasn't shrinkwrapped. My normal lunch was a black & white cookie and a can of diet Coke. Healthy.
Around Thanksgiving they'd always have a Thanksgiving-themed hot lunch complete with a turkey shaped sugar cookie! I mean, it was just totally pathetic.
A retired Brother would stand at the head of the lunch line and call out the "specials" of the day. Things like "fish sticks" and "baked ziti in a cup for a dulla".
The lunch ladies in my high school cafeteria were actual zombies; chain-smoking Aqua Net zombies covered head to toe in liver spots just like you'd imagine.
The guy who ran the register would be smoking a cigar and dabbing his ashes on a wooden spike of soggy pretzels perched at the counter. Mmmm mmm mmm, that's good!
Senior year one day the toilets on the ground floor of my high school backed up. They backed
up so bad, dirty toilet water was coming up through the stainless steel sink drains in the kitchen. Can you imagine? I wanna puke now just thinking about it.
I had a shitty 64 oz. salad for lunch and now I've really made myself ill with my own words. That's a talent.