I made this out of a ripped, stained bureau scarf. But the subject of this post is spinach today.
Do you do this too? When shopping, I optimistically buy a large package of fresh spinach. Plans of healthy smoothies and salads form in my head. When I unpack the groceries, I place it in the refrigerator right up in front where I can see it.
Despite this proactive tactic, I forget about it. Life gets busy, we eat out, it eventually gets thrown away, slimy and stinky.
Today I actually noticed the current bag of spinach before it was a total loss. I could save and freeze about half of the bag’s contents. As I rinsed and picked out the good leaves, the scent of the slimy ones connected my olfactory nerve with my memory bank, resulting in a vivid memory. I was back in the cafeteria at my elementary school. I was looking down at the portion of cooked spinach in my light green melmac lunch tray. Lifted from its section with a fork, the dripping, clinging pieces of stinky spinach behaved and smelled exactly like the ones I was dealing with now.
Wait, did those hair netted cooks actually use rotting spinach? Did they know how disgusting their side dish was? It wasn’t flavored, salted, buttered, nothing. It was just cooked, but cold by the time I sat down on the long bench.
This wouldn’t be worth writing about, except for this next part. There were lunch ladies, two of them, that had the power to excuse you from the table. Once you had eaten your lunch, you had to raise your hand and wait for one of them to stroll over, inspect your lunch, then allow you to be dismissed. They wouldn’t let you go unless all your food was eaten and your place clean. One of them we nicknamed “Sea Hag”. I know, it sounds cruel, but it was chosen for a reason.
I didn’t buy lunch often, but I did on birthday day. Once a month there was a cupcake included with the menu. That day I was full from the spaghetti, the cupcake, and the carton of milk. I just couldn’t imagine eating that awful spinach. I raised my hand, hoping against hope. Sea Hag walked over, bent over my head, then declared that I had to eat it all before I could be excused. There was no negotiating. Some had tried tears.
I ate the spinach.
So lately I’ve been hearing that the “snowflakes” were created by their parents, the “boomers”. I ask you, is it any wonder? Who would blame us for our attempts to make the world a kinder, gentler place. Our protective actions were motivated by memories like this one.
I guess it’s true that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But if I had it to do all over again, I still wouldn’t let my kids drink out of the hose, or play with the mercury from the broken thermometers, or feel guilty for not belonging to the clean plate club.
P.S. Can you fill in the blanks?
“I’m strong to the finich
‘Cause I eats me spinach,
I’m __________ the ___________ ______!”