If memory serves me right, my very first lunchpail was a beat up plastic yellow box that featured Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the whole Peanuts gang on it. It was a hand-me-down from my older brother and significantly declined in coolness, and increased in overall wussiness, by a factor of 10 by the time I graduated Kindergarten.
As a first-grader, I was able to grasp the importance of the socio-psycho-economic perceptions put forth by one's choice of a food containment vessel (I've always been an observant lad). For instance:
- Peanuts lunchbox = "Please punch me in the face."
- Casper the Friendly Ghost lunchbox = "Please drag me into the boy's bathroom and stuff my head into the urinal."
- Anything featuring laserbeams, superheroes, or laserbeams = "Don't mess with me or there'll be hell to pay, scoundrels!"
So I articulated the pros and cons of a newly purchased lunchbox to my mother (i.e. cried until I got it, or until my dad put me in a Figure-4 leg lock). After many tears, and a strained anterior-cruciate ligament, I was bestowed with a gleaming metal lunchbox illustrated with the likes of Spiderman, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, and others that would surely beat the stuffing out of Peppermint Patty, Linus, and Lucy in a steel cage match (Well, maybe not Peppermint Patty. She's a tough cookie).
My new lunchbox was awesome and my playground cred shot through the roof. I didn't have to wait in line for the monkey bars or for the drinking fountain as my peers gifted me with "cutsies" upon my arrival. Coincidence? I think not! Once, while sipping milk from my Marvel Superheroes thermos I saw an anonymous egg salad sandwich sail through the air and nail a kid square in the head whose lunchbox was emblazoned with Care Bears. Public school, a barbarous lot we were.
Yet, as we were often taught at that age, it's what's on the inside that counts. Terribly cliche, but it was especially apropos of lunchboxes and what was carried inside these lunchboxes.