For some reason, I don’t know why, this girl Sandy from my home room asked if I wanted to sit with her at lunch. Ralph Waldo Emerson Junior High was very divided when it came to lunch. Everyone just seemed to know where they belonged and without variation they ate together- the beautiful people. I knew where Sandy sat… by the windows, by the girls with long, very straight hair and some makeup; blue eye shadow to be exact. I wonder if they know today, what I knew back then …the table.they sat at was called the ‘popular table’. Why Sandy asked me there on that day, I will never know. I certainly never anticipated that I would be asked. But I do know that it was a mistake, one that would that haunt me for years afterward.
We first went through the cafeteria lunch line. Thank goodness it was Pizza Day and I hadn’t brought my lunch. My mom only let me buy lunch twice a month. I was acutely aware that the ‘popular table’ always bought lunch. I loved, loved the pizza they served- so cheesy with a wonderfully soggy crust. The grease just pooled up on the top, just like I loved it back then. Sandy had her pizza and I followed her like a gosling over to the table.The eyes turned up and looked at me for a second and then they just went back to their conversation about who liked who and who was going shopping uptown and who was the cutest boy in 7th. I sat down next to Sandy feeling fairly confident in my decision to abandon my friends at the old table when suddenly…
the room started to spin. My nose was itching, my body was quavering. I let out the this screaming sneeze. In slow motion I saw the entire cafeteria watching for what would happen next. The volcano erupted and snot went flying everywhere!
Back then it was considered rude to sneeze into our arm like the kids of today have been taught. My hand back then, hadn’t reacted quickly enough…no Kleenex could have ever cleaned up that mess.
Sandy turned to me “…you…you…your snot is sitting in my pizza”. Everyone at the table was silent before they erupted with laughter…even my old table of friends.
For years after Sandy would remind me, whenever she saw me, which wasn’t often, of the day when I sneezed in ‘their’ pizza.
My old table…well…they actually welcomed me back…just glad that it wasn’t them that faced the humiliation of the ‘sneeze that was heard around our world’.
snip…snap…sneeze- that telling was a breeze