It felt like winning a
prize. I bragged about it. Only when
Ms. Sanchez informed me with a mouthwash-breath
huff that it was no point of pride, did I realize that I only
It is a lunch special to feel
heartache when you see a polystyrene
tray. We’d steal them to sled down snowy hills in
blue Januaries. I learned to go hungry, as was my
birthright. I told my teacher I had a
tapeworm. I told her I named him and he came out at night to rest with my
bones. She told me it was probably gas that made my
tummy rumble all afternoon.
Before I could control my hunger, I’d
beg. I’d beg my classmates for food and Ms. Sanchez would
send stern notes home. My mother would not read them. When I could not throw
them out of the Bus 8 window, I’d crumple them up and
eat the notes line by line. Nobody could see them that way.
The first lean learning the lunch ladies
doled was the idea that there’s no
free lunch. Even for me,
it came with a sticker price tag I would later use to help me
gag. After all, it squeezed me like a
boa constrictor into my hand-me-down jeans. First I’d skip it to
hide my status. Later I’d skip it because it was the
thing to do.
Today I am a Person of Authority. I do not hide my
pansa. I do not leave my plate un-
touched. And if a colleague says a lunch might leave her
dismantled, unable to
I do my best impression of Ms. Sanchez.
Your size is not a thing to toast.