Thursday was hamburger day and the lunch room at Montclair had the best burgers I ever ate! There was this sauce on them, sort of like the Big Mac sauce at McDonalds, only without the chopped pickles. I hated pickles, but I loved those burgers and I doubt I missed a Thursday at Montclair in all of the years I went there.
One day, I had just sat down at the lunch table and was about to bite into my burger when a girl from my class sat down directly across from me. I will call her Jennifer, because that was her name…just not her full name, because as I have said, I am responsible enough to protect all of my Facebook friends in hopes that they would do the same for me, should they ever decide to write a “tell all” blog.
So there I was and no one else at the table yet…frankly, I was a little annoyed that she didn’t sit somewhere else because I knew that if she was sitting there, none of my buddies would. Wrong? I know, but the guys will know what I am talking about here. I was not a mean little boy, it’s just that little boys and little girls in the third grade simply do not have the same interests. They don’t talk about the same things or do the same things…complete polar opposites. But instead of getting up and going to another table, I just sat there feeling like a trapped animal, thinking that of all of the open tables in that lunch room, she had to sit there. Jennifer was sort of the fragile type and though I didn’t particularly like her, I did not want to make her feel bad by getting up and moving. Today we would consider that bad for her self esteem. She was not the ripest pumpkin in the patch either, but at that age, I really didn’t think any girls were worth looking at anyway. She was smart though and again, by today’s standards I would probably go as far as to say that she was, maybe…sort of…sweet, or likable at the very least. I would never have said that in 1975.
So Jennifer was sitting across from me and she opened up her Josey and the Pussycats lunchbox. Our of it she pulls a Tupperware tub. This was not cool in those days…like a sack lunch in high school. I dont why…maybe it was the pastel colors it came in or maybe it was that mean snotty 5th grader that kept hounding me about it…”Hey twerp! Did your Mommy pack your sammich in the pretty pink tupperware today?” I guess you could say I developed a bit of a tupperwaphobia. And here again, kids can be pretty cruel, so I should expected that from the big kids, but though that’s the last thing I would ever describe myself as having been in at Montclair . Hard to be cruel when you are only 4 feet tall…plus or minus an inch or two, but as far as I was concerned Jennifer was asking for it. She never said a word though…just stared at that tupperware tub for a few minutes as though she was trying to work up the energy to open it. It was all really frightening. I wasn’t yet sure of what was in it but apparently she was having second thoughts about it.
And then she did it. She opened the little Tupperware tub, exposing the biggest nastiest purple grapes I ever saw. I hated grapes as much as pickles and these were big ones… huge! There were probably 20 or more in there but it looked like hundreds as she began to put them in her ferocious beak, one by one, crushing the very life juices from them. It was a scene I could only describe as horrific. I tried to look away. I looked down at the table but I still saw her through the bottom of my brow and still she never made eye contact. She just sat there, emotionless. After about 15 of these dreaded grapes were massacred, she looked up and there was this Linda Blair moment. Her lips were purple, but I saw her skin tone begin to take on pale translucent qualities and I knew that she was about to blow. Just as the boys made their way over to the table, Jennifer let go with a purple haze all over it and in an instant, my favorite day of the week, Thursday the burger day was ruined.