Saturday, 16 February 2013

TO CATCH A THIEF

In pre 80s small town America, cafeterias were nonexistant and lunchboxes/lunchbags were mandatory, unless the student could go the entire day without something to eat. Starting somewhere in middle school, then progressing into high school, the usual corps of lunch thieves established itself then grew into a perpetual machine all its own. Keeping a watchful eye for the most likely sources of goodies, the squad of vultures (usually 2 to 3 in number) scanned the lunchboxes as they were secured into the lockers then, at the most opportune moment (i.e. when the victim was out of sight), they swooped down devouring everything, leaving only the wax paper and the paint on the lunchbox. Lunch thieves were a fact of life and most got dealt with in one way or another. JC once caught a guy, red-handed, rummaging through his lunchbox. He promptly showed the thief the error of his ways by making a dent in the locker door with the thief's head.

Cross JC off the list of possibles; he's too dangerous...

About ten miles up the road was another community which contained a school complete with all the things to ensure the usual pecking order within the student ranks. And that included the gang of lunch thieves.

Monte was a little small for his age but lots of hard work on the farm made him tough and wiry beyond most of his peers. He didn't stand for any fooling around but, like so many others, he was powerless to stop the rampaging lunch thieves as they, being the cowards they were, struck when no one else was around. Bette, Monte's mother, was a good cook and baker and always supplemented her boys' lunches with fresh baking in the form of cake, cookies, butterhorns and brownies. Unfortunately that made the boys' lunches, especially Monte's, a prime target. Sometimes Monte would come home ravenous because the thieves had stolen his entire lunch.

One could assume that Monte was a tough kid but one of the worst mistakes that the thieves made was underestimating Bette.

Bette came from a large family of tough, hard-working kids and she also went to school where she learned what it was like to have her lunch stolen. When her treats repeatedly disappeared, her mother made some blueberry tarts then got word to the teacher and principal, telling them that there was a problem, adding how to identify the perps. Like everything else the tarts were stolen but the teacher simply made all the kids stand up and smile.

Blue smiles--busted...

What do for her own kid? Bette smiled as an idea began to formulate. She went into the kitchen, clad herself in full battle regalia (apron and spatula) and got to work. She got out the mixing bowls, the pans, the ingredients and started mixing. Eggs, butter, white sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, all purpose flour, a dash of salt and even some chopped walnuts went in to make this the best batch of brownies ever. While the oven was preheating, Bette went into the bedroom and emerged with that special ingredient that would make this batch stand out like no other. She unwrapped the foil packages and dropped the dark cubes into a saucepan, heated them until they were completely melted and folded them into the mix, stirring it well, then poured everything into the pans which were promptly put into the oven. While the batch was baking she even mixed up a chocolat frosting into which was mixed more of that extra special ingredient.

The boys came home from school and were immediately greeted with the smell of fresh baking. They ran to the brownies and were told not to touch them as that batch was for a special occasion in town. They were then directed to a batch that was just emerging from the oven.

Brownies one day, Toll-house cookies the next; chocolate cake after that. Over the next three days Bette packed Monte's lunch and cautioned him not to eat the treats and that she'd bring in some fresher ones before lunchtime. When Monte questioned her she just told him that the batch already in his lunch was to identify the thieves once and for all. Well, each time Monte went for his lunchbox the brownies were gone but the perps had at least left his sandwiches. But Mom came to the rescue because just as the kids were leaving for lunch break, she was there with a package for Monte.

A few days later, Bette was in the supermarket. She ran into some other housewives/mothers from her home town and it was interesting how the conversations went.

'I had to keep Dennis home for two days so far. He's got Diarrhea so bad...' '...I'm going to have to take Trent to the doctor. He woke up in the middle of the night with the Hershey Squirts; he couldn't even make it out of bed before his system erupted. Now he's so dehydrated...' '...Kristen won't come out of the bathroom; she's so sick...' 'Well, Justin couldn't even make it from the bus to the house; ...it was running down his legs...'

Gross!

Bette just kept as straight a face as she could. 'My boys are fine but I just keep telling them not to accept any food from anyone else; you just never know what ailments kids might be bringing from home.'

As the old saying goes: Exlax cleans like a white tornado. Maybe Bette should've used only one packet instead of the whole box. But then, if kids don't remember the consequences of their actions, they are forced to repeat them.


5 comments:

  1. Oh Dear! That is one mamma bear for sure! Awesome.

    Fortunately we never had this problem in our small town school growing up. However, I sure could of used a mamma like this on more than one occasion in regards to some other things going on. HA Ha.

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    1. Hello Lynn. Always good to have you stop by. Yes, in our southern perch we had our share of perps. Most of those were harmless and thus took their ray of sunshine elsewhere when they got caught. I can't help but think how much trouble a parent could get into had she 'loaded' her kid's lunch today? But back 30 years ago that's usually all it took to stop the crime. Thanks for taking the time to read this. GMS

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  2. Priceless. Absolutely priceless! Identified and punished in one tasty treat . . . or two. The next generation of thieves were back in action by the time I reached the hallowed halls however. Should have had a Bette then, too. Didn't she have any kids in MY class?!

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    1. Bette was in Warner. Monte worked for me at the dealership. Interesting to note: all the lunch thieves came from well-to-do families and there was no shortage of food in their lunches. I guess stolen goodies taste better than the ones legitimately gotten.

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  3. Rats. I lived in the wrong town.

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