Today is once again Thursday which of course means it's time for Theme Thursday. This weeks theme is Lunch. Since I am enternally out to lunch this was right up my ally. So I will serve up my lunch order and then go and see what others have served up.
“Go get my purse” she said as she kicked off her white duty shoes and started unloading the big pockets on her white uniform. Gladys ran into the laundry room grabbed her mother’s purse and headed back to the sofa. “Momma, why can’t I take my lunch” Gladys asked as she plopped down on the brown tweed sofa.
Nurse Meme crossed one leg over the other rubbed her toes and sighed “because your lunch sits in a locker all morning until it’s time to eat. Bacteria grows on food in dark moist places. You can get salmonella. Now here is twenty-five cents and I’ll give you an extra nickel so you can have ice cream. Do not buy ice cream unless you eat all of your food” Nurse Meme instructed as she placed the coins in Gladys little red plastic coin purse. She pinched it open slipped the coins inside “I will know if you didn’t eat your food and just ate ice cream so remember eat your food first then ice cream.”
Gladys put her little red coin purse in her big plaid book bag. She put on her white cardigan and adjusted her pig tails. “But Momma they are having mystery meat. I hate mystery meat. It tastes like barf. Can I just take my lunch on the days they serve mystery meat?” Nurse Meme slid her stocking feet into her gold lame house slippers and picked up her pocket book. “No, Gladys. You need to eat what those nice lunch ladies serve you. The food is perfectly good. That mystery meat is not a mystery, it is chicken fried steak.” Gladys screwed her face up into a pucker and said “but it doesn’t taste like chicken fried steak, it taste like dog barf.” Nurse Meme tired from working a double shift shook her head and sternly repeated “eat your food Gladys. Do you want me to take back that nickel? You know I don’t have to give you ice cream money. You can do without. Now do as I say and eat your lunch. There are starving children in China who would love to have your lunch.”
Gladys put her head down feeling a bit ashamed but mumbled “then let’s just send it to them.” Nurse Meme had enough. She was tired. Her feet ached and she hadn’t slept in over 36 hours. “Gladys, don’t make me spank you in front of God and everybody! You do as I say and I am done talking about this!” With that announcement Gladys was whisked off to school in the company of her older sister, Matilda, who sat smirking in the front seat. Gladys stuck her tongue out at her older sister and then went back to her job of sulking in the back seat.
It seemed to Gladys that the morning would never end. She would look at the clock, look at her Dick and Jane reader and then back at the clock. She tried not to fidget in her seat but it was impossible. Someone had put ants in her pants and she just wanted to get up and run around the room. She wanted to run to the cafeteria and break out her nickel and order up a cup of vanilla ice cream.
Brrirrriinnnggg, brrrirrriinnggg. Finally the lunch bell. Mrs. Bell motioned for the class to stand one row at a time. Oh gawd! This is going to take for ever Gladys told herself. One by one the rows of six year olds filed out into the hall and marched toward the lunch room. Gladys was mid march when she smelled it. The smell assaulted her first in the hallway and grew stronger the closer she drew.
She approached the counter and stared up at the lady in the hairnet with the huge mole on her nose. Gladys tried to smile but it came out more of a grimace as the lunch lady scooped a spoonful of gravy covered brown substance onto the divided plate. Next she watched as a pile of unidentifiable green mushy stuff was plopped into the space next to the brown magma. Oh my gawd they are touching each other! Gross! The juice from the green stuff is running into the juice from the brown stuff. It looks like vomit Gladys’ mind was screaming. She grabbed her tray tighter and waited for the lunch lady to put a roll on her tray. Gladys liked the rolls and knew that was the one thing on her plate that she could eat. Then the lunch lady did the unthinkable. She plopped the roll deep into the brown magma and green stuff juice. It was ruined. Gladys moved down the line and gave Principle Gray her quarter then she whispered “I have a nickel for ice cream.” Principle Gray leaned down and looked at Gladys “What did you say? Speak up child.” Gladys cleared her throat and said “I HAVE A NICKEL FOR ICE CREAM”. Principle Gray peered over his glasses at Gladys and said “you eat your food and then you can come back for ice cream. I’ll be watching you though. You eat it all or no ice cream.”
Gladys wanted to cry. She couldn’t eat this slop on her plate. It stunk. It looked exactly like what her dog Pepe’ had done after he ate a whole bag of Oreo cookies and that had come out of both ends of her beloved poodle. She sat at the table across from her friend Chris Robbins. He had a peanut butter and banana sandwich. He had a thermos full of iced tea. His mother loved him. She stared at the mess on her plate and began pushing it around with her fork. John sat next to her wolfing down the vomit scented mystery meat and Gladys gagged as she watched him. “How can you eat this stuff” she asked him. “It’s good! It tastes kind of like those new Swanson T.V. dinners” John replied. Chris looked at Gladys and said “how come you don’t bring your lunch if you don’t like what they have?” Gladys blushed and said “because my mom is afraid that Sam and Ella will make me sick.” John stopped mid-shovel and Chris bit off a big hunk of Wonder bread stuffed full of Jiffy peanut butter and banana. “Who is Sam and Ella” John asked. “I don’t know but my mom thinks they will make me sick. I told her we didn’t even have anyone in our class by that name.” John swallowed his bite then shoveled in another mouthful “wow, your mom is mean.”
Gladys sat looking at the now cooling brown glop on her plate and said “yeah, but she gave me a nickel for ice cream. I just have to eat all of this before I get it.” Chris looked at Gladys with true pity and said “aw, man, how is she gonna know if you didn’t eat?” Gladys smiled weakly “she and Principle Gray are in cahoots. She has spies everywhere.” The boys shook their heads and went back to eating. Gladys dug her fork into her plate held her nose and started eating the slimy brown substance. She scooped green stuff, brown stuff and roll all together and ate trying not to gag.
She was almost done. She only had a few bites left to go and then she heard the burrrrinnngggg of the bell that signaled the end of lunch. Wait! Gladys wanted to scream, I haven’t had my ice cream yet and I ate all this stuff on my plate! It was no use Mrs. Bell was urging each child on to dump their tray and get into line. “Mrs. Bell. I didn’t get my ice cream” Gladys pleaded as she was prodded toward the big silver trash can. Mrs. Bell ignored her plea and moved down the line touching each child on the shoulder moving them on.
Back in the classroom Gladys began feeling queasy. She looked at John sitting in the seat across from her. He looked a little green. Then it happened. Betty on the front row started making that glumping sound and then there was a plop of vomit on the floor. John saw Betty throw-up which of course caused him to begin heaving and puking which of invoked the domino effect. The whole class was heaving and horking. Mrs. Bell was running around with little brown paper towels “Oh my! Oh Goodness!” She was ushering a mass of children out into the courtyard. It was serial regurgitation. It was retching chaos.
“Mr. Gray? Yes this is Meme McGuillicutty, Glady’s mother. Yes, I was just calling to let you know that she will not be in school today. She has salmonella. Yes, I understand everyone who ate in the cafeteria contracted it. Yes she should be back in school Monday, thank you.” Gladys lay on the bed sipping Seven Up and smirking. Gladys knew she was vindicated but she still didn’t know who Ella or Sam was.