"It'll Stick to Your Bones"
7:00 AM and we were promptly lined up outside the doors, shivering a bit in the chilly 65 degree morning. The elementary kids got to go first, as usual, so I stood silent with the other bleary teens, resentful that we were forced to get out of bed and come to breakfast when it was the worst meal of the day. A few more months and we'd be in the last trimester of our senior year--then we'd be allowed to sleep in and skip breakfast if we wanted!
Finally it was my turn to shuffle through the creaking doors and sidle up to the long tables. It was Monday: oatmeal day. I groaned in my mind. Huge vats sat steaming faintly, hapless students whose turn it was to serve breakfast wielding enormous ladles in repetitious movement. Dip, lift, glop. Dip, lift, glop. I stared glumly at the array of blue plastic bowls already lying in wait. Which one contained the least? I hesitated, then snatched a bowl before Lauren could shove me ahead. I didn't need a tray for my solitary bowl and spoon--the only thing worse than the food was the watery reconstituted milk, lumps of undissolved powder still floating in the greyish scum on top. I wouldn't be taking any. Lauren, of course, loaded her tray with four small plastic cups of the stuff. I shuddered.
Bowl and spoon in hand, I wandered over to our usual table, where other girls from our dorm were already sitting and doctoring their lukewarm cereal. I plunked my bowl down on the table, then sat.
"I just love this stuff," one of the other girls muttered. She lifted her bowl and turned it upside down, demonstrating for the umpteenth time that the glutinous grey mass at the bottom barely quivered, much less succumbed to gravity. We chuckled wearily. It was an old joke. I quickly reached for the sugar container. I upended the jar and watched as the crystalline stream poured into the scant ladleful of oatmeal at the bottom of the bowl. Once the quantity of sugar nearly matched that of the cereal, I stirred the two vigorously until the contents of the bowl took on a semi-transparency.
I sighed, hesitated, held my breath, and shoveled the syrupy mess into my mouth as quickly as possible. The quasi-dissolved sugar allowed the bland glue of the oatmeal to slide over my tongue rather than cling to my tastebuds, but I still had to force each spoonful down my reluctant throat. One, two, three, four....Done!
I sighed again, in relief this time, and pushed the bowl away. The sickly-sweet taste of my sugar overload would stay with me for a few hours, but that was better than the alternatives. One more Monday breakfast over; one less bowl of oatpaste to consume.