The Case of the Missing Lunch

By Judy Berman

Loss is something we all have weathered, whether it’s a defeat in a game, keys you can’t find or the loss of a friend.

This story, however, is about more than a missing lunch.

There must come a time in every kid’s life when they ask: “Just what were they thinking?”

“They” being their parents. That moment came for me in fifth grade.

I was not a fussy eater. Mom never had to worry about leftovers. Our cocker spaniel, Rusty, scarfed up any unclaimed meat – even if it was only unsupervised for a minute or two. I cheerfully gobbled down the remaining potatoes and veggies.

But there was one thing I hated: egg-and-olive sandwiches. Separate, fine. Together, repulsive.

I don’t know what possessed my Mom. She packed one for me for lunch. I looked at it in disgust and reluctantly plucked the bag containing the sandwich off our kitchen table.

By lunchtime, it was nowhere to be found.

I opened my desk in class and gasped, “Where’s my lunch?” A fellow student told the teacher he’d seen my lunch earlier that morning. Everyone was puzzled by its disappearance.

We had no cafeteria. So I was sent to the principal’s office, where he shared some crackers and milk with me. He looked bemused like: “What the heck is going on here?”

When I got home, I told my Mom about my missing sandwich. She didn’t say anything, but, after that, I was packing my own lunch every day.

She was on to me. Guess I wasn’t as slick as I thought.

What happened to that lunch? I’m sure the statute of limitations has run out on this one. So here goes. I ditched my lunch – sandwich and all – in a trash can on Main Street across from Harvey Brothers’ grocery store on my way to school. The student who said he saw it in my desk meant well, but he was mistaken.

Sorry, Mom.

So, what else was lost?

My little white lies, fibs, tall tales and outright whoppers … finally caught up with me.

My “ah-ha” moment happened after a really minor incident. I realized my parents doubted even the smallest things I’d told them even when I WAS telling the truth.

I knew I’d gone too far. I decided I better clean up my act to regain their trust.

Now, nothing could persuade me to tell a lie. OK, I lie ALL the time on surveys where they want to know your age, weight, income and the location of all your valuables. (Valuables? Fuhgeddaboudit! Our 12-year-old TV is the newest thing we’ve got.)

I’d make one other exception. If a friend asked: “Do I look fat in this dress?” Well, if she did, I’d sooner take a bullet than tell the truth.

Trust me on this one: The truth is out there. But, sometimes, that’s not what we’re really looking for.


COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider,, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Photo: Egg salad sandwich

Photo: Alley Grafitti – Lies – graffiti seen in a downtown alleyway in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada– May 18, 2008

    1. Kate, I suspect you are right. We’re not always as open to the truth as we think. I visited your blog – very enjoyable. Next time we’re in Vegas visiting my brother, I might venture out to Area 51. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  1. Sometimes it just has to happen or there’s no Grace, right??

    For example:
    Your kid brings home (horrible) art project. “Isn’t this great, dad?”
    Kid is “playing” soccer. “Didn’t I play great, mom?”
    “Did you miss me?”

    I better stop before I get in trouble! hehehe

    1. Yowzer! Michael, you’re so right. Telling the truth is sometimes a recipe for disaster. Other examples:
      After you’ve bitten into a dry-as-dust baked good your friend just made: “It’s a new recipe. How do you like it?”
      Hubby, after cutting the shrubbery to a nub: “How do you like the new look?”

      Head for the hills and save yourself.

  2. Reminds me not of lies, well…maybe…sort of but not by me. I always had wonderful pink balongie sandwiches (which I would NEVER eat now) for lunch. It was a small parochial school so no cafeteria or anything nearby. Mom always packed a piece of cake or some wonderful sweet along with a piece of fruit. For some reason my lunch was the first one stolen by the boys when the opportunity presented itself. There is nothing more disturbing than finding your lunch bag with a huge bite out of the pink balongie sandwich but the good cake and fruit all gone! Of course no one confessed but I had my suspicions. I was always smart enough to be grateful to Mom. She made the most awesome pastries and cakes.

    1. Kate … What a terrible experience. Did you even have lunch?
      My Mom also made fantastic pastries, cakes and desserts. That’s probably why I had so many friends hanging around our house when I was growing up. 😆
      But that particular day … I have no idea why she decided to pack that lunch.

  3. There’s a time and place for truth-telling. I believe that should be at the discretion of the one receiving the news, especially if it’s bad. I’m a little skeptical of someone who’s busting to tell a friend what’s wrong with her. I’m a believer that friends are friends because they accept you as you are…not as how society expects you to be.

    Meant to say something humorous, but got carried away about truths and white lies. Sometimes compassion is better than telling the truth. There I go again…not funny.

    humorous hugs…

    1. Point noted, hugmamma. I’d rather err on the side of kindness.
      What I tell my students about the missing sandwich, however, is that dishonesty leads to a lack of trust. It took a while for me to regain that from my folks. This example to my class was one of several where we talked about different kinds of loss.

      1. Erring on the side of kindness…my sentiments exactly.

        Forgive me for not realizing this sooner…I didn’t know you taught. What grade? You strike me as made for the job.

        I’ve a teaching degree. Realized it wasn’t my schtick after I practice-taught 4th graders who were as tall as me and had an answer for everything. Definitely felt I lacked control…height-wise…and self-confidences-wise. Not a regret, however.

        There are teachers…and there are learners. I’m still learning…

        NOTE from earthrider: I teach 7th grade Language Arts (English). Thanks for the compliment, hugmamma. I also consider that I’m still learning …

  4. What a refreshing post and writing style, Judy! Indeed, how our past always catches up with us. This is one of the ways I came to the conclusion that the world is round….:)

    Thank you for visiting my post but for which, I might not have been pointed here.

    God Bless.


  5. I love your reasoning about why the Earth is round, Shakti. 🙂
    Thank you for the compliment, and for visitng my blog.
    The video on your blog about the 10th dimension and the string theory as well as your thoughtful posting, “What if …,” was excellent. I like your comment we could make a choice “to see our life as something we create and be responsible for.”

    1. I’m glad you appreciated the humor in the story. Remember, though, crime does NOT pay. I made my school lunches for a l-o-n-g time after that. 😆
      Not to mention the guilt I felt.

Comments are closed.