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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Lunch - The Happiest Part of the School Day!

All right, so for this Saturday's topic, I'm going to switch it up a little bit.

(Funny, so far this March, I've been switching it up quite a lot lately.  I think that this could be a recurring theme.  Keeps this place fresh.)

Anyway, today I'm going to making this blog about one of the greatest things ever.


Seriously, is it just me, or is lunch time one of the best times of the whole day?  For people who go to school, or work a full-time job, the lunch period can be a welcome addition to the day.  A nice break in between classes and job tasks.  And certainly, depending on what you do for a living, your lunch hour might very well be the only thing that keeps you sane!

Well, that is if you get time to take a lunch.  Some people don't.

Now, I will say one thing before I go ahead with this discussion on all things lunch.  My lunch periods at school were very much unconventional.  Unconventional in that unless it was very special day (like whenever we had McDonald's day, or pizza lunch day), I very rarely stayed at school for lunch.  I lived fairly close enough to my elementary school that I went home for lunch 99% of the time.  And, most often than not, this was probably one of the greatest joys that I can remember from my school years.

You see, going home for lunch was certainly a major positive.  Now, I see some of you arguing that I missed out on eating lunch with my classmates in a school classroom and having an extended play period outside in the playground with the enticing swing sets and slide sets.  But you also have to understand that I was always the kid who used to get picked on in school, and particularly in the later years of grade school, I was in a stage where the less time I spent with my classmates, the better!

Seriously, going home for lunch during school hours was the absolute best!  I could sit and eat my lunch in the living room on a TV tray while I watched whatever cartoon was on during that time (usually it was "The Flintstones", "The Pink Panther", or even reruns of sitcoms like "Three's Company" or "ALF"!) 

And, while most of the kids who stayed at school had to settle for apples, milk, and soggy peanut butter sandwiches (which have since been banned in my school district due to allergy concerns), I used to have hot lunches, whether it be stew, grilled cheese, or my personal favourite, fish sticks and steak cut french fries.  Might not have been the most healthiest lunch, but I didn't really care too much about nutritional value as a kid.

Let's face it.  Most kids don't, really.  At least, none of the kids I went to school with didn't.

Oh, and every second Thursday, my mom would plan a special lunch (as Thursday was pay day in our household).  It would either be an A&W cheeseburger combo (hold the onions, please!) or a poutine from the mini restaurant around the corner (which has unfortunately shut its doors since).

By the way, for those of you who are not sure what a poutine is, it's a plate of french fries covered in gravy and cheese curd.  Some of you may call this a disgusting combination.  I call it best lunch ever!

Now, of course, there were some instances in which I did stay for lunch.  Mostly it was on special days, where they served pizza in the classroom.  For moments like that, we stayed in and ate the pizza at our desks.  But when I was a kid, I played a couple of lunch time sports (mostly broomball and volleyball - the only two sports I knew how to play), and I had to brown bag it with a sandwich, drink, and candy bar.

TRIVIA:  You know my candy bar of choice back when I was a kid?  Cadbury Rum and Butter!  Now sadly defunct in Canada...and possibly worldwide.  My heart still breaks over that fact.

Well, actually, I didn't brown bag it.  I Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle lunch boxed it.  And, this was the actual lunch box that I used between 1989 and 1993!

Isn't it so cool?  I wish I still had it.

Of course, my elementary school had its own little milk bar that was located inside of the French classroom on the second floor.  All the kids from grades one to eight would line up with their hands filled with pocket change to purchase drinks and snacks.  There was regular milk, chocolate milk, and lemonade for fifty cents each. 

(Of course, those were the 1990s prices.  Now, they'd be something like four dollars.)

Though, admittedly, I did sneak up there to pay for some lemonade.  I don't know what it was, but I liked the lemonade from the milk cartons...just because of the fact that it was pulp-free.  I hated lemonade with pulp.

Of course, those were elementary school lunch periods.  I can tell you exactly the number of times I stayed at school for lunch when I was in high school.

Seriously, living next door to my high school was a blessing and a curse.  A curse because I lived next door to the place that made me miserable for five years...but a blessing because I didn't have to spend my whole day there.  I did get that break at lunch time, and I really loved the fact that I had the opportunity to get away from the school for fifty-five minutes each school day so I could de-stress. 

(Yeah, in high school, lunch hours weren't really hours at all.  We got 55 minutes.  No wonder I hated high school.  Though to be fair, I did hear from other kids who went to high school with me that the lunch fare in high school was quite good, and the choices involved tacos, nachos, and hoagies.)

Things began to change when I was in college.  In college, for those of us who lived in residence, we had quite a few options.  Obviously one option was that we could do was cook and prepare our own meals...but since hotplates were banned, and there was one microwave for the seventy people who lived on our floor, it wasn't the most popular option.

But we all got meal plans which allowed us to eat all our meals in the cafeteria area, as well as some cash cards that we could use to eat at many of the fast food/coffee/dessert places scattered all over the campus.  Of course, some kids used up all of their money by November and were essentially screwed the rest of the year.  I did okay, as I made my cash card last until February.  After that though, I was forced to eat at the cafeteria.

Though sometimes that was okay.  Mind you, some of the meat dishes looked kind of sketchy, and there were only so many combinations of rice, fries, and mashed potatoes that you could make.  Mostly I spent my time at the cafeteria at the sandwich bar or salad bar.  However every Sunday they would offer ice cream sundaes which you could top yourself, and on holidays and weekends, they always brought out the best stuff. 

I'm talking steaks, cheeseburgers, and chicken burgers - with real chicken!  Not that processed breaded chicken. 

And they also did some really cool stuff for holiday dinners too.  They made turkey for Thanksgiving, ham for Christmas, and lamb with mint jelly for St. Patrick's Day - which actually made me sick...but hey, one meal out of 250 or so wasn't that bad.

And, one of the greatest things about the student rez cafeteria was the fact that you could sit pretty much anywhere you wanted.  There were two different sides, and one was painted green and the other was painted yellow.  I always sat at the green side.  Who wanted to eat lunch in a cafeteria that was the colour of urine?

And during first year, I always had a group of people who I could eat lunch with constantly.  A group of people who never judged my unhealthy addiction to raspberry juice nor cared that I dipped my dinner roll in a combination of A-1 steak sauce, and soya sauce (usually the two condiments I would use during lunches and dinners).

Hey, don't judge.  It's a delicious combo!

Though, part of me couldn't help but notice how some people would want to sit with their friends, but there wasn't enough room at the table, so they would steal chairs from neighbouring tables and scrunch up together around the same tiny table.  There were even a couple of times in which some people would grab chairs from my table essentially leaving me at a table where nobody else could sit with me.  And, you know, at first it really bothered me.  But the more I think about it, it was quite funny.  It's like sitting on an airplane.  While the group of rude people were all scrunched together having hardly any room to eat properly, I was at my own personal table with all the room in the world to eat.  If they wanted to turn their lunch experience into the coach section on an airplane, they had every right to.  I was fine with the "first class" experience with plenty of leg room.

All in all though, lunch time was a fun time.  What were some of your lunch time memories?

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