One of the girls' Christmas gifts was a chef's costume to go along with a play kitchen we already had. I like the Pottery Barn model but I protest a pretend kitchen that costs more than installing granite countertops in a real one. The online description of the chef's outfit boasted something along the lines of "your little one will feel like a gourmet chef at a five-star restaurant." Umm, then why does my kid look more like a lunch lady and less like a Bobby Flay?
Lunch ladies always freaked me out. They seemed to be conspiring to poison us with their partially saran-wrapped hands scooping out moldy concoctions of last week's leftovers. Modern lunch ladies probably wear specialized bacteria-fighting gloves that laser peanuts on sight while simultaneously weeding out every germ imaginable. But I bet they're still kind of scary.
The smell of cafeteria food always made me a bit nauseous. Which is why as a kid I always brought my lunch. This backfired only once when my mother mixed up my brown bag lunch with my dad's and I wound up unwrapping a big hunk of meatloaf in front of a table of 20 seven-year-olds. They began screaming that my mother had packed me "dog poop" for lunch. I would have gone hungry if not for the resident fat girl who gently pushed one of her Ho Hos in my direction. Only a mercilessly teased fat kid could empathize with such ridicule. (ARE YOU READING, MOTHER? 34 years later I'm still traumatized by your "innocent little mistake!!!")
Despite this minor mishap, I continued my brown bagging tradition until high school when I could sneak off campus to Wendy's every day where I always ordered a plain baked potato and Biggie Diet Coke. They were both 99 cents. The Wendy's version of the lunch lady would see me coming and pre-order "the usual" so even if I wanted to I couldn't order something different because it might hurt her feelings. One day I really wanted some fries, but there was my meal all rung up with the little woman behind the counter smiling at me broadly, like she just did me a huge favor by my not having to wait an extra 30 seconds if she had just let me place the order myself.
I always imagined this was the highlight of her existence, exercising her omnipotent ordering gift, so I couldn't very well squash her spirit with an alternate order. Also, I wasn't sure she was coherent enough to implement a rescinded order, which might necessitate a backlog of high schoolers eager to eat their lunch quickly so they could smoke some pot before returning to class. I certainly didn't want to be blamed for the Jeff Spicolis in my school not getting their afternoon buzz.
So my daughters running around the house looking like lunch ladies is a bit off-putting. I may see if Pottery Barn has chef outfits. They probably cost as much as tuition at Le Cordon Bleu, but at least the unpleasant flashbacks will cease.