Trauma in the Lunchroom

It was the fourth grade. I hadn't yet been punched in the nose by Brady. That would come almost a year later. Our class sat on benches on either side of the long, metal table that folded out of the wall in the cafeteria. I don't know what the main dish was that day, but one of the little compartments on our plastic, rectangular tray was filled with canned peas.

Brady was sitting across from me. He loved peas. Many of the children at our table didn't like peas at all. A boy sitting next to him offered Brady his peas. Brady accepted. Soon someone else offered theirs, and then someone else. Brady gladly accepted all the peas offered. Before too long, peas were being passed from one tray to the next to the next until they ended up on Brady's tray. (The nastiness of what we were doing didn't occur to us.)

I liked peas just fine, but the group mentality and the funniness of Brady's growing pile of peas were enough to get the few of us who liked our peas to gladly give them up for the greater cause--filling Brady's tray with every possible pea from our table.

Brady made a comical show of eating several bites while trying not to laugh as he entertained us. Our entire table was laughing and cheering him on. Brady's tray was full of peas--not just the little pea compartment, but the entire tray. He'd even moved his milk carton to the table to make more room for the onslaught of peas. In front of him was a giant mound of slightly mushy green peas.

The commotion brought us some unwanted attention and soon Mr. Giles, the principal, was standing behind Brady.

"What have we here?" he asked, his hands on Brady's shoulders.

"Peas," Brady said proudly, trying not to snicker.

"So you like peas?"

"Yes."

"Good. Because you're not leaving this table until you've eaten every pea on your tray."

I was shocked. No one could eat that many peas. It was disgusting to think about. An uncomfortable quiet fell over our table as we realized that the joke we'd all participated in was not ending well. We quietly finished our lunches and went out to recess. I looked back at Brady's tray as I left and felt guilty for my contribution to that enormous pea pile.

We came back to class after lunch recess was over. There was no Brady. Mrs. Provost began reading "The Wind in the Willows" and when she finished twenty minutes later, there was still no Brady. Afternoon recess came and went without a sign of our vegetable victim. Finally, a short time before the final bell of the day, Brady walked through the door. He looked sick. He moved slowly. He was pale with what I could have sworn was a slight green cast. He laid his head down on his desk.

He'd had to eat every pea. He was miserable. He didn't speak on the bus ride home. I've often wondered if that day ruined his appreciation for peas. I wonder if he likes split pea soup or if he takes a spoonful of peas from the salad bar. I really doubt it.

10 comments:

Marina said...

Poor Brady.. I love peas, but I can't imagine eating so much of them.. Tough principal!!

Christie said...

That principal is horrid! I would be so furious if someone forced my kid to eat peas like that at school. No way could they get away with that today.

Tawnie J said...

Poor Brady.
Couldn't everyone have taken one bite of peas to help save the poor kid?!!!!

Mary L Walling said...

Poor little guy. I bet he hates peas to this day.

Susan said...

Dont' feel too sorry for Brady. I don't remember him being too nice.

Karey said...

Brady definitely had his moments. He's the one who punched me in the nose.

But in spite of that, I still feel a little bad for him when I remember how sick he looked.

Rich said...

I wonder if Mr. Giles stood there and watched Brady while he finished the peas. Do you remember Mr. Giles's clipboard? I'm surprised that wasn't part of Brady's dessert.

Alison said...

I think that it's too bad that a punishment such as that couldn't happen today. The shenanigans that occur in the lunchroom are sometimes unbelievable! I bet that after Brady had to eat all the peas, no body else initiated another pea pile! Problem solved. And I'm sure that Brady was just fine...eating vegetables never hurt anyone.

Susan said...

I remember that clipboard. I got whacked a couple of times and I never knew why.

Scott / Lori said...

I like peas.....fresh or frozen, but not those of the canned variety. When I read this I felt like I might throw up.