School Lunch: Thanks for the Memories

School lunches. I bring up this touching topic because I am in the middle of reading “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott. (It’s a great book and does not disappoint if you’re looking for something to read that will help you get on with your writing.) So anyway. School lunches.

I spent my elementary and high school years in an all-girls Catholic school. You can now politely wipe away that subtle sneer or not-so-subtle look of horror at the mention of “all-girls” and / or “Catholic school.” (And if you never wore that subtle sneer or look of horror, kindly disregard my lame attempt at humor.)

Those years were the some of the best years of my life. Except for all those Math and Speech classes, which I was horrible at and therefore hated. Other than that, I had fun there. I repeat: I had fun there. While it was nowhere near perfect and the uniform… Argh! I could have not looked more awful even if I tried in that white ruffled blouse and navy blue jumpskirt. But then again, I was short, pale and skinny so I guess it’s not the uniform’s fault now, is it?

Sidenote: Speaking of school uniforms, the ones from the fictional Constance Billard school in “Gossip Girl” is the best. No contest there at all.

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I’m meandering here. Let me circle back to school lunches by saying this: The food was good. We had a lot of choices. And even though there was a time they banned sodas from the school canteens, we survived. I remember the meal tickets option, though. I don’t know why, but ever since I can remember, I hated bringing packed lunches to school because I didn’t want lugging around an extra THING. But then the other kids started talking about it because it was something new. Even the popular kids wanted it. So of course, the appeal for meal tickets shot up.

I ended up not getting it simply because I preferred choosing what I eat for lunch. I liked going around the different vendors in the canteen and I wasn’t ready to give up my rice and burger steak with gravy and mixed vegetables, which at that time I thought was the next best thing after not getting called for recitation during Math class.

The day they launched that program, there was a huge fuss about it. I remember long lines. I remember that those with meal tickets had to eat in the canteen on the second floor. The rest of us who brought money or home-made lunches were left to occupy the ground floor. It was an… interesting week. I felt out of place, like I was left behind and couldn’t quite catch up. But then I made my way to my favorite food stall and ordered my usual burger steak meal and all was right in the world again.

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