Friday, November 19, 2010

The Besiding

I am still seething from yesterday. I am beside myself. In fact, I could drape my arm around my shoulder and lean in close for a bit of hanky panky, I'm so beside myself. And it has nothing to do with the Day After Tomorrow.

Yesterday was our Thanksgiving dinner on a school lunch tray. Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, green beans, hot roll, and pumpkin pie. I have not eaten a school lunch for nigh on two years now. Perhaps a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner here and there, or a greasy crunchy grilled cheese with vegetable soup. But on a regular basis, I have decreed a moratorium on school lunches. I've been carrying a balance of $3.50 in my lunch account for quite some time.

I went through the line, and one of the cooks (I call them that, even though all they do is heat up prepackaged food and slop it on a tray) looked at me and said, "Do you want a tray?" Puhleeeeeze! What was she thinking? I had to choke back a myriad of smart-mouth answers:

*No, I think I'll take that turkey and gravy in my cupped hands.

*Nope. I'm just looking.

*No. I'm just standing here because this seems like a hip, happening place to be at 10:53 a.m.

*No. I brought my own trough. Let the slopping begin.

*Is that what you do in here? I thought I was buying tickets to the new Harry Potter movie.

Those wacky lunch ladies! Their hijinx never cease. One of them kind of sighed. She turned and carved out a section of dressing roughly the size of a loaf of Wonder bread, and plopped it on the corner of my tray. As an afterthought, she tossed on a hot roll. Then she asked me if I wanted green beans, so of course I says yes, because nobody's ripping me off and withholding the green beans from my $1.75 teacher's tray, by cracky! Moving on down the line, I got to choose my own pumpkin pie. It was real pie this year, not the graham cracker bottom Cool Whip concoction from years past. Real pie, with crust, and a dollop of whipped cream on top. The kind you get out of a can that the kids use to do whippets.

When Mr. S joined me at our table for eight, I noticed that he had two hot rolls. And so did LunchBuddy. And so did Stuart. And everybody else who sat down. Even the former student sub. So I asked Mr. S first, because I feel so comfortable with him, because we started teaching here the same year, and we are likethis..."Why do you have TWO rolls and I only have one?" Mr. S clued me in. "You have to ask for them. 'Hey, gimme two of those rolls, don't be skimpy.' " Then I asked LunchBuddy, and she, too, said, "You have to ask for them." Well. I'll be gosh-darned if I'm gonna beg for my lunch accouterments, after electronically forking over $1.75. I would rather stew in bitterness and my own churning stomach acid for a year or two. It's just like when they used to give everybody else TWO grilled cheeses, or TWO peanut butter and syrup sandwiches, but I only received ONE. Like they had a big powwow before the lunch bell, and decreed that I certainly didn't look like I required any extra caloric needs.

But that's not what set me in such a state of seethe. Nope. That's not what put me beside myself, flipping my earlobe, jabbing my ribs with my elbow, inserting my licked pinky finger inside my own ear. I HAVE HAD IT WITH THE SUB. Not the former student sub. He is harmless, mainly because he doesn't do much of anything. No, it's the adult sub who is actually the best sub for subbing, because she actually gives the work you leave and makes the kids behave and leaves notes on the naughty ones. Not THE best sub, who doesn't sub anymore, the one who even graded your papers if you left a key, the one who made bad boys stand with their nose in a circle on the blackboard for smarting off.

Here's the deal. If you sit down at the table and stare at everyone's tray and like an imbecile say, "Oh, are you having your turkey dinner today?" We will become annoyed. I know I will, anyway. Stuart tried to be nice. For Stuart. After he whined to Sub about how territorial we are with our seats, enabling her to snark a bit about how she had noticed that, he said, "Why don't you go get a tray?" And Sub said. "I didn't know you were having your turkey dinner. I already ate my lunch before I came." And Stuart still encouraged her to get a tray. But she didn't. It would have been almost all right if she had stopped there. But the psychics among you know that she didn't.

This is where my besiding begins. I have not taught at this school for 12 years so I can be weaseled out of my regular lunch seat by a sub. Laws, NO! M-O-O-N. That spells Mrs. Hillbilly Mom had better get her regular seat at the lunch table and not hear another word about it. It would be one thing if a new sub sat there and didn't know. But this one knows. So don't go acting like you have a right to whatever seat you want, and criticize us with Stuart. Because that implies that you have paid your dues, which you have not. But that is still not the root of my besiding.

Throughout the 23-minute lunch, Sub stared at me. I find this very annoying. It enrages me. But that's still not the precipitating incident for my besiding. It was the conversation. Or, rather, the inquisition. I knew there was limited time, and that I would not be able to finish the tray. I ate most of the turkey, a bit of mashed potato, a couple forks of chopped green beans, three forkfuls of dressing, and about half a hot roll. In between these savory bites, I deviated from the tray to score a mouthful of pumpkin pie in its little styrofoam bowl. And SUB had the nerve to inquire, as soon as the plastic fork entered my mouth, "Is the pumpkin pie good?" What could I do but nod? I wanted to tell her to go get herself a freakin' piece of pumpkin pie and leave me the freak alone for my 23-minute competitive eating challenge.

Sub was in a veritable trance, eyeing my tray throughout the lunch period. "Is that cornbread dressing?" How would I know? It's dressing. Dressing is dressing. I do not have the discerning palate of Andrew Zimmern. All I know is that it's school dressing, not Stove-Top Stuffing, not my mama's dressing, just school dressing, and I don't know WHAT it's supposed to taste like, but it's passable. Then Sub says, "They gave you enough for three people." Get the freak outta here! Who made you the USDA monitor of the National School Lunch Program? Go get a freakin' tray and stop drooling over mine. I've a good mind to sit here after the bell and eat every freakin' crumb on this three-person tray just to see what you're going to say next. Lunch Nazi.

She was there again today, gooning at me all lunch period, which did you know starts at 10:38 on Fridays? And she brought her lunch, which was disturbingly similar to mine, being some kind of sandwich on a whole-wheat bagel and some Harvest Cheddar SunChips.

I'll bet she didn't know that my SunChips expired on October 19. I wish I had queried her about each course.

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