Thursday, September 10, 2009

Joke's on me

Making these things is a coping mechanism. I used to try to do something fun with my older son, who we call Primo, every day those other miserable bastards were in school, and something special whenever we could. The park, the zoo, the pool, the library, the children's museum - all staples. Some, like the fire station and the strawberry patch and - one more nail in the coffin of the idea of an all-loving God - the John Deere tractor and combine exhibit at the western Iowa fair, I still get props for to this day. Others are best left to manifest themselves as compulsions and phobias later in life. Lucky for me he's still eating salami 'til then, because he got two "surprise lunches," as he calls them during his first week of school, and his second was Batman's antipasto antithesis: The Joker.

Talk about your lessons learned. Let me say that these are all foods that my son eats. Let me also say that yes, those cherry tomatoes and cucumbers are fresh from our garden. Yes, his hair is chopped fresh basil, plucked from a still-living stalk in said garden. He is accented with koshering salt and fresh cracked pepper. What’s that? He has indeed been drizzled with olive oil.  Yes, good eye, as a matter of fact, his suit is cut from a homegrown, heirloom Black Krim purple tomato not really done justice by this photo. Also, a kindergartener swings and shakes his lunchbox a lot. Almost to comical excess, one might say.

This I didn't fully appreciate until I asked him how his lunch was and he replied, with uncharacteristic economy of language, "good." I asked him whether he knew who lunch was supposed to be. He told me that he didn't, but that the tomatoes were good and that they were the kind they picked one time with his aunt and that's the time when they went swimming in grandma's pool and the dog... So, as my son returned to form, I wondered whether he had been looking at the Joker upside down. After all, he couldn't read the cheddar "HAs" either way. Once we got home, though, it was obvious what had happened. At least everything had gotten a nice, even coating of dressing.
So, everything since has been packed in tight or has used natural stickiness to its advantage. As in life, really.
When my son did eventually see this lunch as it was intended, because my wife posted it on Facebook, he was impressed. His lips pursed and his eyes lit up. "Whoa! The Joker!" passed breathlessly from his mouth and left a smile there as he looked at me and at his mom and then back to the screen. And it was nice to be there for "the reveal," since I'm not there in the lunchroom. And it might have been even nicer that he just stayed there in that happy place where the picture took him, rather than moving on to disappointment that it didn't make it to school that way.

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