Sometimes, I forget to eat it. Sometimes, it is all I can think about. Lunch and I have a very complicated relationship.
It took me a long time to get used to the idea of ruining a perfectly good slice of rye bread by using it to hold meat in place. The bread was enough for me; why was roast beef needed?
It was in elementary school that this first became an issue; there was no Go-Gurt or Lunchables in the 1950's. G'ma would make a week's worth of sandwiches, label them in her tiny print, wrap them in Saran Wrap and pop one in my lunch box every morning. By the time I opened it up at noon, the frozen bread had softened into an interesting paste, often adhering to the pastrami or salami or turkey it contained.
Friends soon learned that sitting next to me would often garner them something much more interesting than their pb&j from home. I wished I liked peanut butter; I loved jelly and bread. Trading for an apple or a cookie, I'd leave the cafeteria hungry and sad. It made learning in the afternoon a challenge; I attribute my math difficulties to the fact that it was always taught right after lunchtime.
In 6th grade we were allowed to go off campus for lunchtime; every once in a while G'ma would write me a note and a friend and I would walk to the diner and have a hamburger. But these treats were few and far between; mostly, I suffered.
In middle school, lunch took on a whole other meaning. It was less about the food and more about socializing. With whom would I sit? Somehow, eating became less important than negotiating a favorable seat. By high school, we could drive to Mickey D's or Dairy Queen if we had an older, licensed, friend. Sometimes I ate in the girls' gym, keeping the monitor company. It was weird, but I did it. The lunch room was often too much of a social scene for comfort.
In adulthood, I learned to binge. For weeks at a time, I'd carry an egg salad on challah in my purse. That morphed into tuna in a margarine container. When I was pregnant with Big Cuter, McDonalds was back in a major way; my co-workers informed me I was no longer allowed to choose our lunch destination. It made a come back when Big Cuter was in kindergarten; his afternoon classmates would meet up for kids' meals then carpool to class. I was no longer able to gag down the burgers, but the french fries never lost their allure.
At home, raising the kids, I'd pack us into the car and we'd go out for lunch. Making it at home was never an option, except when I heated up Spaghetti-O's for my son. They never tempted me, but I could delude myself into thinking I was a good mom because I was cooking for him at home.
And now, as an adult, with all options available at the turn of an ignition key, I am still stuck. Fast food burgers at 5 Guys, pizza at Sauce, tuna salad at Beyond Bread, Jimmy John's delivery, yogurt from the fridge.... I'm hungry and I'm unable to decide.
Bread and butter is looking awfully good right now.