He was just getting used to the lunches that his mother wasn't making him. In the eighth grade, he was finally turned loose on his own midday meal. It was ironic that he was using most of the same raw materials from his mother's pantry, but now he took special care in making a lunch that looked like he imagined teenagers should eat. No more Wonder bread - sandwiches came on rolls that were carefully split down the middle. Chips were pretty much the same - Mom wasn't buying any of those individual serving bags (waste, waste, waste!). The chip portion was larger because there weren't carrot or celery sticks. This too was sometimes cause for a moment of melancholy, since Mom was so very good at putting just the right amount of peanut butter in a celery gutter. There were days he wished he had the patience. Dessert was where the difference really showed. Instead of a few cookies in a bag, or a single Zinger, there was a pair of Twinkies or a foil wrapped Ding Dong. When he had the time to spare he went to the store with his mother to make sure she brought home the chocolate Snack Pack pudding - not those damn fruit cocktails. He didn't need milk, since he brought his thermos full of water kept cold by the ice cold aluminum of the mountaineering bottle that had his name etched in the bottom.
He was completely self-sufficient and didn't need to stand in line for a minute. He walked to the lunch room with his lunch box and started eating. Wait. Lunch box? Eighth grade? Not a brown bag? Nope. A big black construction worker's lunch pail that had been lovingly decorated with cartoons from his own feverish imagination. Lunch box in junior high school=social death. How could he have known?