Meals from Hell.

Out of all my good childhood memories, I remember Sunday morning breakfasts the best.  Stacks of pancakes, or grits and eggs, with bacon usually.  Biscuits accompanied anything we ate except for pancakes.  Meals were very regimented in our household.  Because it was a “foster” household, we had strict meal times.  Breakfast, 8 AM.  Lunch was really dinner and was at noon.  Supper was really lunch and was at 5 PM.  Don’t even think about eating at any other time of the day.  Nope.  It wasn’t going to happen.  If you were late and missed the meal, well, you would be sure to make the next one on time, wouldn’t you?

Supper was the same every day of the year.  A half a sandwich (usually bologna) and a bowl of soup, usually chicken noodle or chicken and rice (Campbell’s).  Lunch was the big meal – well balanced of course – meat, sides, veggies, bread and dessert.  I left for school at 6:30ish, so no breakfast.  I missed lunch five days a week by being at school.  So I lived for the weekends and especially Sunday breakfast.  Saturday was oatmeal (gloopy, gloppy, sticky, yucky oatmeal) or plain corn flakes, no sugar; this also applied to the other days of the week as well but I missed those if school was in.

I had three main complaints that I have worked very hard to accept in my current reality.  Oatmeal, bologna and bananas.  The oatmeal has to be bug free, the bologna from the deli, and my bananas borderline on green.

Commodity oatmeal had bugs in it.  Boll weevils to be exact.  Little tiny oatmeal-loving bugs.  The old lady couldn’t see them so she denied their existence.  When I tried to point them out, she would slap me and say, “Eat your food.  There’s nothing wrong with it.”  So this forced me to devise plans to rid the oatmeal from my life.  I would get to the dining room early, hide a butter bowl in the chair next to mine, and then lollygag until she would finish eating and leave the room.  Scrape, scrape, scrape went the oatmeal into the bowl, close the lid, hide it again until I could get it out of the room, run to the back door, bend down and throw it as far as I could under the house.  No one went under the house except me.

(If you don’t know what a “butter bowl” is, it’s Tupperware for the poor.  Cheap margarine came in cheap plastic bowls, which we reused to store leftovers.)  Years later, I would crawl under the house to fix a busted pipe and found dozens upon dozens of containers of old oatmeal.   Egad, man.  And in case you don’t know, ‘commodities’ were what poor people got, once a month…a big can of pork chunks, a 5-pound block of something resembling cheese, bags of boll weevil oatmeal, peanut butter in huge cans with lots of oil floating on top, and powdered milk and the funny thing, we weren’t poor but she lied to get the free food.

Bologna must have been THE cheapest lunchmeat available at the time.  We ate it fried and we ate it right out of the package and the only time I ever liked it was the day it came home from the grocery store.  I remember it being so slick and slimy, and complaining, which brought another slap and then, “Here, this is what you do when it’s like that” and she would wash the slime off and then shake the water off.  “Here you go, there’s nothing wrong with it” and she would make my sandwich.  I’m surprised my eyes didn’t roll out of my head.

School mornings found me holding a brown bag that contained a bologna sandwich and a black banana or a small bruised apple.  She loved black bananas.  I hated any fruit that soft.  So every morning, I would take the bag, and while walking over the bridge to my bus stop, I would pull out the banana, peel it, throw it in the creek followed by my unwrapped sandwich.  I bet the fish in that creek hated bologna too by the time my childhood was over.  Hey, I wonder if any of them developed any kind of weirdness.  That much bologna can’t be good for anybody.

In fifth grade, they sent me home with a note from the School Nurse.  I weighed 45 pounds and you could count my ribs.  They said if I didn’t start to gain weight, the authorities would be contacted.  The old lady solved that problem.  A raw egg every morning in a glass of powdered milk.  There were mornings when she had to literally force me to drink it; you could never convince me that squirming wouldn’t help so I tried it every single day and every single day, she won.  Bitch.  But it worked, I gained weight.  Fast forward – Welcome to high school, now that I’m “chunky”.  UGH.

It was probably 30 years before I ate bologna voluntarily, have only began to eat oatmeal this year and bananas, well, I don’t eat any fruit that is any color other than glossy magazine photography perfect.  Issues?  No, no I don’t have any issues.

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2 thoughts on “Meals from Hell.

  1. That is a sad foster-care story. One can’t help but wonder if the system has gotten any better. I remember commodities, we would get them whenever there were lay-offs at the coal mine where my dad worked.

    • I don’t know if they still give them out or not; it was not the best life but I do know it could have been worse. Every time I get to feeling sorry for myself, I remember those stories of children chained up in basements and burned with cigarettes and I think, Hey, life wasn’t so bad after all. Look, no cigarette burns. Don’t I feel lucky?! Thanks for your response.

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