I thought I had all my tough problems in life whittled down to avoiding the ‘Big Five’.
(The Big Five is what I collectively call the handful of deterrents of any real significance to me any more. I figured if I just managed to keep myself from getting fired, divorced, arrested, injured or dead, everything else would pretty much work itself out.)
I was wrong. I forgot about bag lunches.
“Anything I prepare should be two-bagged, at least, to hide its shame from polite society, deep-fried in a desperate attempt to salvage some hint of flavor, and only eaten in the dark. Or preferably, not at all.”
Actually, I nearly completely forgot about bag lunches. It’s been twenty years since I packed myself a homemade lunch. It’s not that I’m ‘too good’ for a brown sack meal. I’m just awful at making food. Anything I prepare should be two-bagged, at least, to hide its shame from polite society, deep-fried in a desperate attempt to salvage some hint of flavor, and only eaten in the dark. Or preferably, not at all.
And why would I do that to myself at lunchtime? Eating lunch in the office isn’t depressing enough without poisoning myself, to boot? Why don’t I just slam my arm in a car door and call it dessert?
So, I don’t do bag lunches. I’ll eat at a food court, or off a food truck, or from the food floor before I subject myself to my own brown-bagged culinary misdeeds. Most of the bag lunches I’ve ever had were made by my mom, back when I was in grade school — right before I graduated to my SpiderMan lunchbox. And that’s how I planned to keep it.
Today I attended an event. It’s not important what sort of event — you fill in whatever you want it to have been. A party, a class, an intervention, a kidnapping, an orgy, court-appointed community service — hell, make it a combination of all of those, if you like. And you can figure out what the hell that would look like. Choose your own adventure, kids. Imagination is fun.
The important thing is that this event lasted most of the morning today, and into the afternoon. And the instructions — or invitation or syllabus or label on the fuzzy handcuffs, whichever you like — plainly said:
‘Bring a bag lunch.‘
Damn. There goes another streak out the window. This is “never licked a flagpole in winter” all over again.
More important, I soon realized, is that it’s been so long, I don’t really know how to pack a bag lunch. Not for an adult, anyway. The last bag lunches I can remember, from way back in the Cenezoic Era, were when I was eight or ten years old. I mean, back then I was eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with my sippy cup milk and blister packs of banana pudding. I had to think hard about how to translate that into something that a mature adult in big-boy pants might eat — especially in front of a group of gathered strangers / fellow students / hookers / concerned friends / desperate felons.
I mean, I had to think really hard.
Really, really hard.
So there I am this morning, making my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and pouring milk into my sippy cup and wondering whether anyone even makes banana pudding any more. Or whether I should go without dessert — or pack a beer instead.
I went with just a plain old banana. From what I remembered, I used to drop those damned bag lunches fourteen times before second period. So the banana would basically be pudding, by the time I got around to eating it.
Of course, the cliche third grader Smuckers ‘n’ Jif fare would have been bad enough — if only I’d stopped there. But Mom’s bag lunches always came with a little note stuffed inside. I just thought that was part of the deal. And my wife was already up and out of the house. So I wrote my own note. To myself. In my brown bag lunch.
Only, I didn’t know what to write. Mom’s little notes were always fun to find, with her sweet words of encouragement, like:
‘You can do it, my special little man!‘ or
‘Go get ’em, kiddo!‘ or
‘If you half-ass another Social Studies test, mister, then so help me god don’t even bother coming home.‘
(It’s possible Dad snuck the occasional message in the bag on his way to work. Either that, or Mom’s PMS was way more of a problem than I remember.)
None of that really seemed to fit my situation today, but I still wanted to send lunchtime-me a little pick-me-up, in case I needed a verbal pat on the back. And a lot could happen in those next few morning hours. Quite a lot. Could be a real circus, depending on what wacky trip you people sent me on up there. So I offered myself the most helpful catch-all I could think of:
‘Hope you’ve still got clean underpants!‘
It seemed fitting. And it was the least I could do, after bagging a lunch built for a nine-year-old.
Though I have to admit — the sandwiches were delicious. And as far as I could tell, I did still have clean underpants at lunchtime. That note was pretty helpful, after all.
Maybe I should rethink this whole bag lunch strategy. Next time I have a Saturday seminar / day trip / stakeout / golf outing / hostage situation, I am totally whipping up the PB & Js. Thanks, me-Mom!Permalink | No Comments