Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Room For Pie

Last night I was talking to a friend of mine about her son's school lunches.  When I was a kid, there were paper bags full of PB&Js and granola bars littering the cafeteria tables.  Some kids had those fancy Tupperware lunch boxes with the matching containers inside.  I always had a metal lunch pail. Either Strawberry Shortcake or Star Wars or Care Bears.  I'd remove the thermos for more room for food.  (It was West Texas.  Not really soup weather most of the year.)  I can't really remember anything fancier than an apple in anyone's lunch.

My friend puts ice packs in her kid's lunch to keep the food cold.  I know this is normal nowadays.  But, it seems so foreign.  What, what?  Ice packs?  For what exactly?  I was thinking of packets of goldfish crackers and fruit roll-ups.  But my friend's kid gets yogurt and string cheese and fruit in his lunch.  You know, real foods that need to stay cold.

Okay, I get it.  But it made me wonder why we didn't need our lunches to stay cold way back when. We shoved them in desks or in completely UNrefridgerated lockers with absolutely no ice packs!  IT'S LIKE WE GREW UP IN THE DARK AGES!

I started thinking about food and about how the things you learn about food when you're a kid affect you for the rest of your life.  I mean, my friend's kid has been eating sushi since he was really little. (When I first met him, he was two and we dined at a Greek place. Dude was knocking back olives like a pro.)  I didn't try Chinese food until high school.  (I thought the only three food types were chicken fried steak, fajitas and pizza.) He's a fairly adventurous eater for a grade schooler.  I'm a squeamish little baby person when it comes to what I grub on.  If it looks like it did when it was alive, I might burst into tears.  You'd probably rather take the kid out to dinner even though there's a big chance he'll do a science experiment with the beverages on the table or end up horizontal in the booth playing Angry Birds on your phone.

When I was a kid, my grandfather was the authority on pretty much everything.  First off, he was old, which obviously lent him a certain amount of authority.  Also, he was a preacher.  I'd see him give sermons about right and wrong from the pulpit so I figured he knew what he was talking about or people wouldn't come listen to him every Sunday.  Plus, he had tons of books.  Clearly he knew EVERYTHING.

But he loved to mess with me.  He leaned over one Christmas Day after I'd protested that I couldn't eat another thing and told me that there was a separate compartment in our stomachs for sweet stuff.  He pointed to where the compartment was located.  I happily believed him and scarfed down two pieces of my Meemaw's pie.  I did not discover this wasn't true until high school biology class.  (But even now I sort-of believe it on some level.  I mean, I can always find room for a cookie.)

How much have my Papaw's words affected my eating today?  Is he the reason I can't turn down dessert?  Are my no-need-to-refridgerate 80s lunches responsible for my unbreakable addiction to processed foods?  I try to eat healthy.  I shop at the farmer's market for most of my food and do pretty okay most days.  But, if I'm stressed or sick, I need graham crackers from the blue box.  I need Wonder Bread and vanilla wafers and Pringles.  I need Dr. Pepper or Sprite in a glistening can.  I need familiar foods in perfect shiny packaging.  Tough chemically disgusting foods like the Twinkie Woody Harrelson's character was chasing in Zombieland.  Foods that will survive the zombie apocalypse.  Foods that don't need no stinking ice pack.

So, yeah.  I think despite my efforts, I am a product of my Care Bear lunch box.  I am my grandfather's granddaughter.  I will always break down and have a granola bar.  I will always have room for pie.

*Photo of me by probably my mother.  Please please please note the splatter paint hat that matches my all-cool splatter paint shirt.  Yeah, baby.  Yeah.