Another installment of back to school stories....
"Mom, did you buy hot lunch when you were in school," middle son asked.
"In elementary school I remember I did, not alot, though. I remember the fish sticks and I liked those."
"What about the pizza?" he said.
"The pizza we had isn't the fancy stuff you guys get now from a pizza place. Ours was frozen squares of pizza. I used to get that too but my mom made my lunch most days and then when I got older, I made my own."
"Did you get hot lunch in middle school?" he continued.
"I have no idea. I can't even remember what the cafeteria looked like in my middle school. When you get older, you will realize that you block out most of middle school. Plus, our middle school was only two years, so it wasn't long enough to remember it all."
"What about high school? Did you get hot lunch then?"
"No, I couldn't."
"Because my friends and I all sat in what they called the Bag Lunch Annex. My high school was huge. I don't even know if I ever walked into the real cafeteria. No one brought hot lunch in the annex."
"It was a rule?"
"No, it wasn't a rule. It was an unwritten rule. It was a rule made up by someone a long time ago and passed down throughout all the bag lunch carriers over time. It was sacred though and you wouldn't want to be the one who broke it."
"Did anyone ever try?"
"Oh yeah, every so often at the beginning of the year, usually a new kid, would try to come in the annex with hot lunch. But everyone would yell, "Bag! Bag! Bag!" and they'd leave. An unwritten rule is still a rule but it's harder to prove since it's not in writing. Nowadays everything's in writing because people like to sue each other.
"Did any kids ever sue about the Bag Lunch Room?"
"No, I really don't think anyone cared. The Bag Lunch Room was a crowded mess anyway. It was probably more comfortable in the cafeteria. But the annex wasn't set up for hot lunch. No napkins, no spoons, not even a spork."
"What's a spork?"
"A spork?! It's a spoon that's a fork. Your grandfather John used to bring them home from work."
"He stole them?"
"No, he worked in the food business and had a lot of sporks. They're the greatest thing ever! You can eat canned peaches with them and get the juice, or macaroni and cheese with no problem. Sporks are fun. They used to have those with hot lunch. Do you want me to make you a spork costume for Halloween? Your brothers could be a hot lunch tray and a carton of milk!"
"Um, no. Why would anyone dress up like a spoon?"
"It's a fork too!"
"That's okay, mom. You're so weird."
"It's an unwritten rule!" I said with a smile.