Mightier Than The Pen

Making The World A Bitter Place

Would You Like Some More Ketchup with That Cucumber Salad, Young Man?

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Today is my eighth anniversary as a lunch lady at John Jay Elementary School. So to celebrate, I decided to give the kids a little extra on their trays. I went crazy overboard on the stewed prunes. You should have seen the grateful, hungry looks I got from every single child! The same look they display when there’s kissing on TV – you can just tell the little dears find the sweet things in life so special.

Why, just the other day I made sure to glaze the cupcakes in date paste just to give a little extra. I could just see those adorable children scrunching up their noses in delight as they nibbled voraciously at the treats. Oh, those children – I could go on and on about them. Never had any of my own, but as a lunch lady I get to feed them better than their own parents, and with federal nutrition guidelines to help me. If a dish needs more vegetable content, I just add ketchup.

That’s how I got the creamed corn to meet the federal standard. Same goes for the pizza and the macaroni and cheese. I even did that once for the lemon meringue pie, but for some reason the color came out wrong. It was only supposed to be a pinkish white, not a dark red. So I didn’t try that again. Tasted wonderful, though, if I say so myself.

I always try to show the children I care, too, by smiling sweetly every time I dollop some goodness on their cafeteria trays. I have a missing incisor and a gold upper canine, plus there’s this persistent rash on my upper lip, so the smile comes out just right, the perfect mix of down-home concern and salt-of-the-earth credibility. The kids always stare at me for an extra second or two before moving on, so I know I’ve made a connection.

Used to be I could take more liberties in what I added to the food, but health inspectors put a stop to that. I suppose they mean well, but gone are the days when I could give a little bit of myself to a child who needed an extra bit of encouragement or grown-up demonstrations of nurturing. No more strands of my bluish hair to garnish their lunch, and no more cigarette ash to add some warmth to the food of a child just gasping for a little more love from his environment.

I’m glad I ended up with this gig, not like my friend Wanda, who’s stuck over at Thomas Edison High School across town – she has to see young people groping each other and engaging in romance right there in public! I’m much happier nurturing the bodies and hearts of the more impressionable ages. You never know what a little bit of input from a trusted soul behind the cafeteria counter can do to the minds and hearts of developing children.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must add more ketchup to the apple sauce. It’s looking a bit drab.

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Written by Thag

August 31, 2011 at 3:25 pm

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