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Friday, October 07, 2005

Always Somthing There To Remind Me

To the 26 brave and wonderful people who shared their most embarrassing moments yesterday, thank you. My thanks are not just from me, but from my mom, and the 150 visitors Home Fires had yesterday. Mom is feeling better. She had a flu bug but seems to be over it now.

Yesterday my buddy William gave me a case of the grade school lunchroom flashbacks. There I was, in my Way-Back Machine while reading his post. He wrote about carrying his homemade lunch to school in the Wonder Bread bag, while classmates had cool superhero lunchboxes and normal brown paper bags.

Like my mom, William's included a little note everyday. That was always my favorite part about lunch. On the note, my mom would draw a little cross-eyed smiley with one curlicue for hair, sometimes adding Mr. Spock ears. She would write, "Lois, Have a nice day! I love you! Love, Mom" That was almost verbatim of what William's mom wrote.

The one point William didn't mention, but triggered my memory, and always made me envious, were takeout lunches. You know what it was like eating your purple bread from your squished peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You would watch from the corner of your eye as some other kid's mom brought them Mc Donalds. The lunchroom erupted in cheers and finger pointing for the lucky kid as if he couldn't see for himself.

"Look Mikey, there's your mom! She has a Happy Meal for you!" Everyone ooohed and aaahed at the prize.

For me, the toy was no biggie. But, oh, the smell of the fries would send me into sensory overload. My mouth would salivate and my eyes would stare. We weren't a fast food family. The smile on the kid's face, the envy on all faces around, is fresh in my mind as if it were happening this very minute. It never failed, that kid was the king of the lunchroom. Everyone wanted to sit near him, if only to bum a fry.

I didn't even get a taste of a fast food burger until I was in sixth grade. My best friend Cheryl used to get $5 every week for allowance. I got a quarter. One day after school Cheryl told me something magical. "Lois, McDonalds is having a sale on cheeseburgers! They are only 29 cents! Do you know how many cheeseburgers we can get with $5.25?"

See, she was my best friend. How many other kids would say "we" when one of "we" couldn't even buy one, 29-cent burger?

We walked a mile from our school to McDonalds. I was so happy. When we arrived, we saw a kid from our school. He and his parents and his little sister were sitting in there eating. I was amazed at that sight. I wished my family would go there to have dinner one day. I envisioned our monstrous family sitting, taking up at least two booths. I, the only lefty in the bunch, would finally get an end seat and not bump elbows with all of the righties sitting near me. I smiled at the thought.

We stood at the register, counting on our fingers how many burgers we could get. It didn't matter that our tummies could only hold a small amount. A balled up five dollar bill and one quarter tossed onto the counter, Cheryl said, "We want this many burgers. The ones on sale."

I smiled at her way of getting out of that math problem.

The lady gave us 16 cheeseburgers. It was the Leaning Tower of Burger on that tray. We giggled. Once we sat down, Cheryl divvied them up. Even-Steven we each had eight even though my measly quarter went unused. Cheryl didn't want an odd amount of burgers. Best friend ever. We were three burgers in when we realized how thirsty we were. We didn't have enough money for a drink. I went up to the counter and asked for two waters.

The lady said, "20 cents please."

"20 cents? It's just water!"

"We have to charge you for the cups."

I raced over to Cheryl, told her the bad news. She reassured me that we still had enough money. She dug into her pocket pulling out my shiny-hard-earned quarter. She handed it to me and I went back to the counter.

With less than a dime left over, we were stuffed to the gizzards and didn't even die of thirst. Good times.

What William did was inspired my brain. Each and everyone of you bloggers do that to me. You trigger something in my mind that reminds me of a great time in my life. Here on these Internets, we share our lives more so than we do with the real live fleshy people we come in contact with every single day. For that, I thank you.