Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Chocolate Cake with White Icing

Whoops, a whole month went by. I checked my sitemeter expecting to see tumbleweeds…and whaddya know, someone had just visited from a domain called WideOpenWest. I took it as a sign I better post something before this blog becomes a ghost town.

In the midst of all the unbloggable events going on in my life, I had sudden thoughts of elementary school (a subject many writers probably visit from time to time) and cake (a subject pretty much everyone enjoys).

Those thoughts popped up when I decided to bake a chocolate cake with white icing, for no particular reason. Right smack in the middle of trying to get dinner on the table, I thought to myself, you know what would make me feel better? Chocolate cake with white icing. I can mix one up right now! I have all the ingredients! Dinner can wait.

Back in elementary school, chocolate cake with white icing was the one thing that could make me happy about being in the cafeteria. I hated everything about the place – the hot plastic trays and leaky milk cartons, the lonely search for friends while standing with a clod of beefaroni on my tray.

When I was in first grade, my teacher put me at the beginning of the lunch line every day and appointed someone to stay with me at the dining tables after everyone else had gone back to class. I guess she was worried about me because I was skinny and didn’t eat my lunch. I didn’t eat because the food was gross and the cafeteria freaked me out. The solution was to force me to spend even more time there.

Ice cream sandwich days weren’t too bad, but chocolate cake with white icing really was my deliverance. If I spotted kids coming out of the lunch line with those precise squares in the corner of each tray, even the smell of Pine Sol and gray-green corn couldn’t get me down.

In fact, eating chocolate cake with white icing may have been my favorite part of elementary school. Funny that my favorite thing occurred in the one place I dreaded the most.

So, what about you? What takes you back…what conjures up your best and worst school memories?


Rebecca Ramsey said...

Wow. Your post transported me right back to the cafeteria at Frances Lacy Elementary. I ALWAYS brought a bag lunch. Soggy tunafish sandwiches and PB&J. The only good time of year was Girl Scout cookie season. Mom would include a couple of thin mints, and life was good.

I think PE was the worst for me.
Oh, and the time I got impeached as Class President. (It was around the time of Nixon and the class watched too much TV.) But that was okay, I didn't want to be president anyway. Somebody else nominated me and I was too shy to decline.
I'll stop writing a book now.

ICQB said...

I have a couple of wine bottle corks floating around in my 'a little bit of everything' drawer in the kitchen.

Everytime I see them, I remember that one Halloween in elementary school when I was a leopard. Right after lunch was the costume parade at school, so lunchtime was 'don your costume' time. My mom sent a cork with a burnt end so that I could use it to color my nose black and draw whiskers on my face.

For some reason, the memory of doing that is one of my favorites from elementary school, and I remember it everytime those corks roll into view.

Anne Spollen said...

There's a certain shade of pea green that still gives me shudders - both on the walls of our elementary school and in the cafeteria with a gloppy soup they used to serve. Talk about textural memory.

But I love the smell of floor wax -they always starting cleaning and waxing the floors right before dismissals before vacation.

And Anne the teacher says I love the readability of this blog post -have you ever tried writing middle grade? It just sounds like a middle grade I couldn't put down.

Kim Kasch said...

I was a true freak 'cuz I liked school at least most of the time. I loved wiener wraps and pizza but most of the time I walked home for lunch because it was cheaper. I remember when milk went up to .04 and I thought it was outrageous ;)

Mary Witzl said...

We had nasty grey peas too, hard as bullets, dry and tasteless. But we also had spaghetti cooked to mush and mixed with the sauce. It was served in neat little dollops from an ice cream scoop and I thought it was delicious.

Suzanne Casamento said...

Chocolate cake with white icing has always been my favorite. H just made me chocolate cupcakes with white icing for my 38th birthday.

In middle school I got dumped from my clique. One day I sat down at the lunch table and no one talked to me. For months and I sat there, ignored, every day. Waiting for my friends to talk to me again. By far the worst school memories.

Damn the cafeteria.

adrienne said...

Becky - That impeachment story is amusing - obviously a case of bad timing. For me, P.E. didn't become a nightmare til around high school.

ICQB - I love that story...and what a clever mom!

Anne - Ah, the institutional pea green walls - I think they determined they were supposed to be calming or something. Ack.
(Anne the teacher's comment made me smile - I HAVE thought of writing middle grade. I always get stuck thinking I need a plot all worked out, but maybe some time I'll just go for it).

Kim - I forgot about pigs in a blanket! It's hard to mess them up too much. :)

Mary - I still marvel at what can be servied up with an ice cream scoop.

Suzanne - It's hard to escape the drama of the cafeteria...cake always helps. Happy belated birthday!

Ara Burklund said...

The best of high school: driving with the sun roof open, letting my hair blow all over the place, getting horribly tangled but not caring because the sun and the breeze feel so wonderful.

Ocean Girl said...

I love chocolate cakes. In school, I had not heard of chocolate cakes. Only until I got to college in the city that I was introduced to chocolate cake and it was RM 3 (80 cents US) a piece and I could not afford it.

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

i took my lunch - could not stand the food :(

Keats The Sunshine Girl said...

During recess, my friend used to share her small cone of' kacang putih'(boiled chick peas) with me. She had more money to spend than I did.

Angela said...

I'm like you...it is hard to keep up with blogging.

I've always loved school...and I work in schools now...so lots of good memories...to many to list.

One of my recent favorites was a 'survivor type' obstacle course in high school PE. The class was divided into teams by the coach and on one team was a student with limited use of a leg. The whole team helped this student and he was able to get across the obstacle course with his peers!


Rena said...

My school didn't have a cafeteria. Towards my later years they started doing hot dog & pizza days. In all honesty, I don't have many fond memories of school. However, sometimes when I drink milk, if it's just the right temperature, I'm taken back to preschool. It's really weird how a taste can take you back ...

Lily Cate said...

Mmmm cafeteria cake...
I used to like that stuff too, until I bit into a clump of baking powder stuck right in the center of one. Blech.
We also had this super strict lunchroom superviser who didn't like us to talk, and wanted us to eat every scrap of food on our plates. I hate that rule. Why teach a kid to force themselves to eat when they aren't hungry? No wonder we have horrible eating habits in the US...

Favorite school memories? Making art projects, and writing, of course. I remember making about a hundred paper rabbits for my fifth grade class once. I don't really remember why, but my teacher let me put them all over the door and the hallway window.

sruble said...

I don't know when/if I've had chocolate cake with white icing! I'll have to look for it. I totally get that feeling/thought you talk about though. Dinner can wait. It's time to make chocolate cake! (Or cookies, or starting a painting, or ...)

Your first grade teacher was so mean! I can't believe that she'd do that. And how could she not know that cafeteria food doesn't taste good to everyone. I'm right there with you on that too, except the pizza and tacos, which I liked. I even put them both in my zombie novel, because pizza and tacos = school food to me (or at least school food I was willing to eat).

So sorry that life is still rough. I hope you get some chocolate cake with white icing to help you through it.