I didn't hate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches until the fifth grade. Every day I opened my brown paper lunch bag to mom's neatly-wrapped-in-wax-paper-with edges-folded-like something-was-going-to-try-and-get-out sandwiches. She put an apple or an orange and a paper towel in the bottom. Sometimes there was a homemade chocolate chip cookie but it didn't make me like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches any better. She only used creamy peanut butter and white enriched bread with the crusts cut off.
I hated creamy peanut butter. It stuck between my teeth and cheeks. I tried to use my tongue to get it. When girls saw me use my finger they made yucky faces and laughed. You know what peanut butter under a fingernail looks like? Once, during morning recess, someone went in the cloakroom and stepped on my lunch bag. After that I waited until no one was watching before I tried to get peanut butter out-a my cheeks.
Other kid's moms made thick sliced salami and cheese sandwiches. Guy's sandwiches. Meat and cheese. When the guys opened their bags it smelled just like when dad took us to Filippi's for dinner. Filippi's didn't smell like our kitchen, like boiled peas, mashed potatoes and tuna casserole.
Most boys had lunch boxes with comic book action characters, potato chips and candy bars. I had brown paper bags. Even cookies couldn't buy me a trade. Everyone said, "Little kids eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches…older kids eat sandwiches stuffed with meat." They said meat made guys get muscles and beards. Peanut putter made boobs grow.
I made a playground vow. I was gonna grow up and be a butcher. Before going to bed I looked at myself in our bathroom mirror. I'd look good with sideburns and handlebar mustache. I'd have a barbecue in my back yard. I'd invite friends over for steaks. I'd never make my kid eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. He'd be a fifth grader who could grow a beard.
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