Middle School Cafeterias

This afternoon I broke a 12 year streak and ate hot lunch in a Middle School Cafeteria. The following image I found online summarizes the memories I have of this social and gastronomical misfortune.

Today’s adventure, however, was surprisingly pleasant. Provo’s Centennial Middle School fed me a tasty chicken salad in a whole wheat wrap and a green salad that contained no iceberg lettuce, but had everything from beet greens to cucumbers and radicchio in it.  Dessert was shortcake with real strawberries and cream on top. $2.75. Who knew anyone in a public middle school eats this well?

I took a few strides back in time as I squeezed through the disordered clumps of awkward adolescents, tray and milk carton in hand, and asked a girl sitting alone at a table if I could join her for lunch.  She wasn’t sure, since she was saving the 3 empty seats around her for some friends still waiting in line. It was probably my charming smile, or my very adult appearance, that finally won her acceptance. We pulled over another chair and soon these 3 seventh grade friends and I were talking about the usefulness of science, the nature of most school hot lunch menus, the instruments we play(ed) in band, and our favorite pets.

The best middle school humor I heard in our conversation came after I asked one girl if she lived in the country (she told me she had 25 pets). Her friend cut in to respond for her: “of course she does, it’s called the United States!” When the bell rang and the lunchroom again became a chaotic hive of not-quite-adults, all three of my lunch-mates thanked me for sitting with them and for bringing ‘fun science stuff’ to their school. How tender is that?!

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