Friday, March 23, 2012


Probably no other meal preferences have changed during one’s life more than lunch. Think about it. 

By the time you’re five years old, you pretty much have your breakfast selections made and they remain unchanged. I preferred my eggs over-easy with a glass of tomato juice; a Denny’s server will receive the same request from me now. Same goes for dinner. Steak: medium rare. Pizza: with anchovies; blue cheese dressing on the salad. Seafood has always been a favorite. 

But think about lunch during your lifetime. It’s all over the place.

Elementary school: We ate in the school cafeteria. Lunches were seldom brought from home. I remember on the first day of school, the little carton of milk appeared on my lunch tray and I started crying because I didn’t know how to open it. Opening the carton of milk was not yet part of my skills-set and I thought it was terribly unfair that everyone assumed it should be. I finally mangled it opened. 

Our favorite entrée in the school cafeteria was an item we called “moosey-cow”. It consisted simply of ground beef and potatoes in a thin, milky sauce. Even as a little kid, I knew that moosey-cow was highly overrated. 

Junior High: The 8th-graders were the big shots and were allowed “open campus” for lunch. That meant we had just enough time to scurry down to the lunch counter on the town square if we really hurried.  A hungry twelve year-old boy can wolf down three chili dogs amazingly fast. They were 25 cents each. 

High School: Junk food from the snack bar, sitting with your best friends. Once driver’s licenses were obtained at sixteen, we’d peel out with Led Zeppelin blaring from 8-track tape players. I have to admit that beer was consumed on occasion for the sole purpose of being naughty.

College: Dorm room cafeteria food was actually pretty good. Or, we’d hang out at our favorite burger joint, Grins, which is still there and where I still like to meet my best friend from college, Madeline, whenever I’m in Texas. We used to drink several pitchers of cheap beer and skip class. Now, we’ll have, maybe, a Dos Equis. We’ve both completed graduate studies in theology and she’s a hospital chaplain.  I remind the waitresses that we used to eat there thirty-four years ago. I’m sure they’re bored with it. 

During my twenties: I worked in a bank and would bring my lunch to eat with thirty women in the employee break room, glued to the TV, watching All My Children. I can still remember everyone crying when Jenny got blown up on the jet ski. Good times. 

In the monastery: Lunch was a simple affair, eaten in silence while one of the monks read aloud; usually passages from saints’ biographies. Once when I was reading, I came upon a passage about some saint who was mortifying himself by consuming a diseased person’s pus. I skipped that sentence (as if anyone was actually listening anyway). 

Now: I keep promising myself that I’m going to save money by bringing a healthy lunch from home. I never do. Sushi from the food court or lo mein from Panda Express are far too easy. I eat in my office and blog.  

Things have, indeed, changed from the days of moosey-cow and mangled milk cartons.  


At 2:40 PM , Blogger Bob said...

On days when don't work from home, i bring my own lunch. Usually some kind of wrap sandwich, an apple and a granola bar.

It really does save money. And, i like to think, it's healthier.

At 3:30 PM , Blogger Mom said...

When I was little I went home for lunch. Mom made me PB&J or grilled cheese. In high school I brown-bagged it, usually ate peanut butter/banana sandwiches. In nursing school we usually fixed our own food in the basement kitchen. There were constant fights because of people stealing other people's food. When I was working I usually brought left-overs from home. Now I'm retired and we go out for lunch almost every day.


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