The Dreaded Hot-Lunch Line
Time is precious, and negotiating your way through the swarming hot-lunch line takes some skill. The best way to buy hot lunch is to walk purposefully to the end of the line and maintain position. Beware of cutters who may have a ruse, such as acting like they forgot a fork or straw. Usually they are wormy little sixth graders, so don’t be afraid to tell them to buzz off! You may think it best to wait for the line to die down, but don’t! By that time, the food goes from grotesque to downright vomitous. (Just sayin’!)
Not all entrees induce the lunch flu, but be cautious of certain food items. Anything with a catchy name like “Fiesta Fajitas” or “Burger Bangers” should be sized up with suspicion. Also, dodge the mystery meat whenever possible. This is anything containing meat product that can’t easily be identified with the naked eye. It’s usually topped off with some sort of gravy-like sauce so as to conceal its identity. Hence, the name. Also, stay away from the pizza altogether, as it’s riddled with mystery meat droppings and altogether nast.
Where to Sit
Where to sit in the middle school cafeteria is a strategic chess move that can be executed with ease. Just face the fact that cliques are the number-one unspoken rule of the lunchroom. (If you don’t already know, a clique is a self-segregating group that hangs and eats together. They were around when your grandparents went to school, and they’ll be around when your grandchildren go to school. A few common ones throughout the ages are preppies, geeks, punks, emos, oddballs, hipsters, VIP popular kids, and wannabes.)
Now, the good news is you can click outside your clique. You just have to know which ones are flexible and which are not. For example, the trinity of Madison Heights royalty—Kandi, Kassi, and Kalli—is one grub ’n’ snub club that isn’t accepting new members. One can tell this by their guarded body language that screams “Admire—then expire!” when you walk by their reserved VIP table waaaaaay in back of the lunchroom.
On the flip side, most cliques love to meet and talk with new people, so don’t be shy! If you’re new and don’t want to eat your cheese puffs solo, case the caf for a friendly looking group or just take out a book or magazine and chill. If you look confident and comfortable with yourself, someone is bound to join in. (Quick Tip: While you’re sitting there by yourself, feign popularity by pretending to wave at random people. It works!)
The upshot is finding a crowd to chow with definitely gets easier with time. Before you know it, you will have your own little table surrounded by your best besties, eating the mystery meat du jour!
Don’t know what to gab about while you grub? Try these hot topics:
Can you believe that English project?
Are Uggs really a good look?
Makeup/breakup/shakeup of the week
“I know, right?,” “That’s so random,” “24/7,” Just sayin’,” “It’s all good,” and other phrases that should be banned
Team Edward vs. Team Jacob
The virtues of headbands
Today’s cute math substitute
Yesterday’s scary science substitute
What teachers really talk about in the lunchroom
Beware: Try to avoid food fights. Some fun seekers might try to instigate, but it’s ultra-immature and could ruin your gear.
Helpful Hint: No matter how tempting it is to food bash, always be nice to the “lunch ladies,” and never insult the food while in earshot. They’re the hardworking women who put the mystery in mystery meat and have hairnets, oversized glasses, and large moles. Always be polite, and try to learn their names (usually something like Edith or Joyce). You may just get an extra big helping of mystery meat goulash!*