Sunday, January 10, 2010

Lunch Ladies

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 Also, I wasn't sure she was coherent enough to implement a rescinded order, which might necessitate a backlog of high schoolers eager to eat their lunch quickly so they could smoke some pot before returning to class.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.


  1. Oh, she looks so cute and hilarious!! I wouldn't order a new one. That is great.
    And what kind of high schooler were you?!? A plain baked potato and a diet coke? Where are the calories? Where is the grease? Where is the junk? How were you planning on pimples eating like that? Jeeezz...

  2. Please do not replace the chef's outfit...that is adorable! Jeff Spicoli's mom didn't even pack his lunch as evidenced by his need to have pizza delivered to Mr. Hand's class. You should consider yourself lucky. And if you tell my kids there is an option other than eating what the cafeteria serves up, I will smite you.

  3. Oh my word, LOOOOOVE the lunch lady look. So 2010.

    Keep it, that girl is WORKING it.

  4. She is so cute! Looks like they should be cooking up some super cute confections like cupcakes or macaroons or something!

    Hmmm, maybe you should teach them how to use the crock pot?? (or not, if you read Glass Castle)!