Saturday, March 12, 2016

Lunchbox


A few years back, global capitalism glitched or broke down, and the above product appeared on the shelf of a Northern California Target.

No American kid wanted this item. They wanted Frozen, they wanted Spider-Man, they wanted to blend in with the crowd and not be kicked down a flight of stairs to the sound of mocking laughter.

And what kind of mother would buy this lunchbox for her (presumably loved) child? "Good-bye, darling! I'm off to the office in DKNY and a salon blow-out. But here, you take this hideous thing designed by a thick-fingered halfwit and made in a third world chemical plant for fifteen cents. Have a great day!"

Because my kids have two houses, one lunchbox each is not enough. At any given time, half their possessions are "probably at Dad's." So I was excited to find an extra lunchbox marked down to $2. The store would just about pay you to get it out of there, as it was bringing down the tone. Sold!

Honestly, my reaction to this lunchbox was love at first sight. And because I think in hashtags: "#globalcapitalismfail"

* * * * 

Quickly, the lunchbox became a test of the love and character of those close to me.

After a series of leading questions, my son agreed that it was funny. He was willing to take it to first grade once in a while in a spirit of hilarity, and to please Mom.

My daughter was stuck in full-day preschool. Every afternoon found her on the swings, singing Frozen songs at the top of her lungs in a fugue state until I finally showed up to rescue her. The lunchbox was amusing, sure, but the salient issue was that I did not pick up her up at noon like certain other mothers. If I thought a cheap-ass lunchbox could bridge the chasm of this betrayal, I was mistaken.

Dave and I had not been dating very long when, one morning, I packed up some leftovers for his work lunch. Handing him the Leering Abomination, I explained that I loved it, but he didn't have to take it. I could put his lunch in a paper bag, no problem.

"Are you kidding? I would be honored to take this lunchbox to work."

Well played!

A few months passed, or maybe a year. At lunch-packing time, Dave gently expressed his preference for a paper bag.

"But I thought you were honored to take that funny lunchbox!"

"I was honored. On that day."

The lawyer in me respected this carefully-parsed answer.

Sadly I put the Mistake That Should Never Have Seen Daylight back in the cupboard.

* * * *

The other day, it was in the backseat of the car. Of poor quality to begin with, it was now smelly and stained.

Inside were the remains of a peanut butter sandwich and a bag of carrots. That was all it could hold. Even a juice box would have split its flimsy seams.

Yet its primitive, electric-blue face was perky as ever. It seemed to be calling out to someone, saying: "Hello, friend! Remember me? I'm not a dinosaur, or any identifiable creature, because the person who designed me was too stoned or insane to give me any features besides two vertical slits for eyes and a gaping red mouth. Ha ha! How 'bout that? Friend? . . . Bye, friend!"

I washed it out and put it back in the cupboard for next time.

Best lunchbox ever.

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