I had learned early on that buying a school lunch was all sorts of sketch. Half the time, I wasn’t even sure it was real food they were offering. It was safer to just bring your own. But you couldn’t have anything weird if you wanted to sit with the popular crowd. It was best to bring simple, stylish foods: some vanilla Greek yogurt, carrot sticks, and maybe a single can of soda. Healthy, but not excessively so. The girls who only nibbled on a single piece of celery were definitely whispered about behind their backs. But you didn’t want to eat like the band geeks – pizza and chips – or the Mormons – jello and leftover potatoes.
Since I wanted to fit in with the popular kids, I tried to have the right lunch. I usually brought some sort of fruit – nothing weird like a pomegranate or grapefruit, just simple fruits like an apple or a bunch of grapes. I liked a good ham sandwich, nothing too excessive or smelly, just some whole-grain bread (trendy because of its health benefits), two to three slices of ham (more makes your sandwich hard to handle), a little bit of mayo (not enough to see from the outside of the sandwich, no one wants to see goop on your crusts), some lettuce and tomatoes (must be fresh), and a thin slice of cheese (preferably cheddar because it tastes good but isn’t too strong). And it all must fit comfortably in a Ziplock bag. If your sandwich makes a mess as you pull it out of the bag, you’re doing it wrong. I’d bring a protein bar but that had to be eaten carefully in broken-off-under-the-table pieces. Taking a chomp out of a protein bar in plain sight is not okay. And my water bottle was always right there, next to my arm. But not a pre-packaged, plastic bottle, I was a swimmer after all. It was a chic, light blue metal one with a screw-on cap and a breast cancer awareness sticker on the side.
I worked hard on these lunches and learned the hard way a few times, like the time my banana broke and fell on my lap and I had banana goop on my pants for the rest of the day. Or when my can of grape juice spilled all over the table and stained Julie’s notebook. You can’t overdo it with anything, or you’re on your way out of the popular section of the cafeteria and into the awkward sidelines of tuna fish and kiwi.
My water bottle was really the best part about my lunch. It was metal because someone, somewhere decided that plastic reusable water bottles gave you cancer. But really, I think he’s just the one who invented metal water bottles and wanted a mad rush of consumers. But anyways, it was cool. I picked it out of a big selection at a sports store. I chose blue because pink was too girly and the red was too bold. Pale blue was the way to go. All the blues were good, but the pale blue was more feminine, but not as drastic as the pink. And if you’re going to carry your water bottle everywhere, you don’t want the part your mouth goes on exposed. That is just gross for everyone. So I got the kind with a screw-on lid, it keeps the rim clean and it’s spill resistant. And then there’s the breast cancer awareness sticker. You know the kind, the pink, looped ribbon one. That sticker showed I was trendy. I was supporting those in need, but not overdoing it like the girls who started a “save the whales” campaign last year. (They got ousted to the tuna-zone.) I had done really well with that water bottle. It said I was cool, sporty, and approachable. And it fit in the side pocket of my backpack. You don’t want to be the kid carrying their water bottle in their hands; hands should always be available for hugging girlfriends you haven’t seen in a while or catching a rogue Frisbee or football. But you don’t want your water bottle clanking around inside your bag because that causes too much sloshing and sounds strange as you walk down the hall. The side pocket is the way to go. Safe, but also shows off your coolness.