While my friends in elementary school proudly showed off their My Little Pony or Smurf lunchboxes, I never got to participate. Why? My parents just had me buy a hot lunch from the cafeteria every day instead.
When we had field trips, however, bringing your own lunch was required. My mom had to figure out what to pack for me, thus resulting in one of my earliest memories: finding the absolute worst thing ever in my lunch bag.
I was in first grade and the field trip was to the beach and tide pools. There's nothing quite like the excitement of a school field trip: the anticipation, boarding the bus with your friends and chatting away, keeping tabs on the precious pocket money your parents gave you to buy a treat or souvenir.
All of this fun came to a screeching halt when I opened up my brown paper lunch bag (remember, no cool lunchbox for me) and found one of the worst possible things you could ever give to a six-year-old: a can of V-8. And remember, this was the original stuff, way before they came out with much more palatable juice blends.
I remember furtively looking around to see if any of my friends had noticed what I'd pulled out. Luckily, they were enjoying their more kid-friendly foods and drinks, including coveted Capri Suns. My poor mom probably patted herself on the back for packing me such a "healthy" drink, but I was mortified. I wouldn't drink it at home, so what made her think I would drink it on a field trip?
The teachers at my school usually walked around and checked to make sure we had eaten most of our lunches, and I was petrified they would come by and make me drink the V-8. So what did I do? Walking to the garbage can would probably be too conspicuous, so I quickly buried the whole can of V-8 in the sand and inched away from the scene of the crime.
I sometimes wonder if there's still a can of unopened V-8 buried on the beach in Alameda, California. Maybe someone roaming the beach with a metal detector found it and was just as disappointed as I was. My mom's a great cook, but somehow really missed the mark on that one.
What's the worst thing you ever had in your lunchbox?