This process of heating the entire meal in those metal packs was not ideal. Everything got heated at the same time and somehow each section became its own loaf thing. For example, on Wednesdays there was the burger/tater tot loaf, the green bean loaf, and the canned peaches loaf. Even things that should remain cold were not like the salad loaf, and my personal favorite, the dreaded pudding loaf.
Now, my mother insisted that I needed to have a “hot meal” at school and try as I might, I could not convince her that she was wasting her money, and it would be cheaper and healthier for me if I took my lunch to school. “What good is it if I don’t eat it?” I cried, but she wouldn’t budge. So I spent most of my lunchtime sitting on the grass begging for food from my friends whose mothers let them bring a sack lunch. “Trade you half your peanut butter sandwich for my burrito loaf.” Oddly enough, they weren’t usually interested although they did occasionally take pity on me. Laura’s and Jamie’s moms always sent them with the usual sandwich, chips, and apple or some other sturdy fruit. Joyce’s mom, on the other hand, was special. She loved her daughter and always sent Joyce with some kind of forbidden snack cake. We were all envious of Joyce and even Laura and Jamie often tried to trade, but when it came to Hostess Cupcakes, their apples and chips had about as much value as my pudding loaf.
Now this particular day was a beautiful, sunny one, and we were all sitting under our favorite tree. I was having a particularly hard time trying to trade because it was hot dog/French fry loaf day. I’m not sure what happened to the hot dogs during the heating process and transport, but they always came out green. No kidding, literally, the green weenie. Jamie had taken pity on me and had given me half of her smooshed peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We were chatting, secretly stealing glances towards Joyce waiting for the unveiling of the snack cake of the day. Joyce tried to be quiet, but you can’t hide the happy crackling of a snack cake wrapper. We all turned to find Joyce unwrapping Dolly Madison royalty…the coveted Raspberry Zinger. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a vanilla snack cake with cream in the middle. The outside is covered in coconut flakes glued on with raspberry jelly. Sigh.
Of course we all started hounding Joyce for a bite of the prized pastry making our best trade offers, but she refused as always and started to savor the creamy coconut raspberry goodness right in front of us. Who could blame her? We all watched with rapt attention; our eyes following the smallest coconut flakes that fell silently onto the grass.
About half way through the Zinger we knew it was a lost cause. Joyce would not share the tiniest piece, so we stopped bothering her and resigned ourselves to watching her enjoy it. When she started in on the second half, a large pincher bug (earwig) climbed out from underneath what was left of the Zinger and onto the backside of it. Laura, Jamie and I all saw the heinous creature, and in an attempt to save our friend, we all yelled and reached for Joyce at the same time. Unfortunately, she saw this as a last ditch attempt by us to gang up on her and take what was left of the Zinger by force. She did what any kid would do and shoved the whole thing in her mouth. Her cheeks could barely contain the last half of raspberry goodness and a little bit of coconut fell out as she smiled smugly at our looks of horror, thinking she had outsmarted us.
The moral of the story is: Anytime you think someone is going to steal your Zinger, they may be trying to save you from eating a pincher bug.