Monday, November 10, 2008

The Lunch Lady's Daughter

Last week was my thirty-first birthday. As always, my mom called around noon and reminded me that I was born, “Just in time for lunch.”

She also told me another story, one I’ve heard many times before, but this year I can’t stop thinking about it. Mom has always joked that the lunch lady wanted me. See when I was cooking in my mom’s belly, she was still a high school senior who pushed a plastic orange tray through a lunch line to get food every day.

As the legend goes, each day this particular lunch lady (whom I’ve just named May in my head) told my mom, “If you don’t want that baby, I’ll take it!”

Growing up, the lunch lady was something of a joke, as in, “If you come home puking vodka one more time, I’m going to call up that lunch lady and see if the offer still stands.”

When my mom told the story this year she said, “No really, the lunch lady really wanted to keep you. It got a little creepy actually. I had to switch lunch lines.”

I couldn’t help but think of my previous blog entry (Excuse me, Are You Going to Raise that Baby?) as it dawned on me that the creepy lunch lady could be me. Because if I worked in a high school I guarantee you I would be stalking the lockers of every pregnant girl around. Possibly even the ones I merely suspected were sexually active (Pssst, hey girls, over here, if you get knocked up, here’s my card! Call me….seriously.)

It’s strange to think that the course of my life was hinged on the whim of a seventeen year old girl. A simple decision could have cast me in an entirely different role in life. Named and raised by the high school lunch lady, I could have been anyone. Maybe I’d be Margie the Seamstress, Paula the Pediatrician, Chrystal the Crack Whore. All my mom had to do was say, “This is too much to handle,” and I would have been whisked off to a land of stainless steel counter tops, hair nets and large bins of macaroni salad. (The super-secret tater tot recipe would be my birth right).

But my mom didn’t give me to May. Honestly, the decision is still a mystery to me. Put in the same situation, there’s NO WAY I would have had me. I would have begged and stolen and hitchhiked my way to the abortion clinic and if that didn’t work I would have auctioned me off to whatever school service employee was interested.

Not my mom though, whatever her reasons, she kept me and despite some rocky times for both of us, things have turned out pretty well. Neither of us have ever been in jail. I am not currently addicted to crack or having sex for money, I bathe on a regular basis and never call people after nine on a school night. All in all I’d say my mom fulfilled her requirements as a parent.

Would May have done the same? I don’t know. I’ve always imagined May the Lunch Lady as kind of a weirdo. But now that I want a baby and can’t have one, I understand her. I have a strange desire to move across time and space to comfort her. I know the heartache of wanting something you can’t have. It must have been devastating to want a child and watch this young girl, a child herself really, passing in front of her eyes every day at noon.

When I think about it, May did contribute to my existence. She provided my mom with essential sustenance in the form of heaping piles of canned green beans and macaroni and cheese. Maybe in some way I was aware of her.

Now when I think of being born just in time for lunch, I think I was giving a nod to May the Lunch Lady. As if to say, “Maybe I wasn’t meant to be with you, but don’t worry, your baby will come down the line eventually. Also, thanks for all the tater tots.”

(P.S. Obviously my mom deserves double helpings of props for squatting me out, hauling my ass around, cleaning up aforementioned vodka puke and generally doling out greasy, buttery lovin' for thirty-one years.)


Shonta said...

Great blog. I always enjoy reading your blog when i get to learn a little more about where you come from and how it has effected you as a person. As our conversations in person are only 2 seconds of how ya doing where ya going hope all is well. Maybe I should start a blog? Lmao.....

MsLisaL said...

omg, you were adorable in your little red dress and pinafore. what a cutie!

james ford said...

"Chrystal The Crackwhore" and she spells it with an "h" cracks me all the hell up. I can't believe the McCain campaign didn't think of that.

Funny story. When my brother was born, my dad doing what dad's did, waited outside. They told him his son had been born and was in the nursery. He trekked upstairs and amidst a room full of babies, found the only brown one and beamed at his newborn son. He went downstairs and spoke with my mom who then told him there was another nursery downstairs. He went downstairs and found another brown baby, this one marked FORD. He went two floors up to inspect the imposter child marked MELENDEZ.

For years we always threatened my brother with taking him (who we refered to as Baby Julio) back to the Melendezes and getting my real brother back.

Erica said...

OMG, this is an awesomely funny elaboration of essentially the same thing as the Buddhist concept of interdependance:

"When I think about it, May did contribute to my existence. She provided my mom with essential sustenance in the form of heaping piles of canned green beans and macaroni and cheese. Maybe in some way I was aware of her."

Erica said...

oh, and I always misspell interdependence. some intellectual elite I am.

Jocelyne said...

Now, I went to the same school as your Mother, and I can't picture you with the lunch lady. Girl, your Mother definitely did you a favor. said...

Great story! Thanks for sharing. I always read your stories under unique circumstances. Today, I am in the mountains, trying to find a little trailer to put on our property so that we can stay there from time to time. The big family cabin will have to wait a couple of years. But as always, your all invited to stay in our little ghetto trailer (whenever we find it) and hand with us in the mountains. And yes, everyone includes Kiddo. She would have 12 acres to run around in. I think she would like that!

madwoman said...

I was surprised your mom was so young. You seem so sensible and balanced.

About the baby, I hope someday you can have one because she (or he) would be so cool and smart, but if not you'd be a great adoptive mom I think. Just don't mention your blogs while they're checkin' you outl. :) Take care, Kim