Wednesday Weeping: “Mr. Noodles”

15 Jun

“Wednesday Weeping” is a new weekly series here on ThisNeedstoStop. One of us, usually Joel, will recount a sad/funny tale from childhood.

During the fifth and sixth grades (as you may well remember) the dry Mr. Noodles (or Ramen for non-Canadians) for recess fad had well taken hold. In fact, it had already crested in popularity and many of the cool kids had moved on to other exciting snacks.

But after months and months of pleading, I had finally convinced my mother to buy me a packet of Mr. Noodles to take to school. Money was tight, to say the least, and though Mr. Noodles were cheap, they had never made it onto our very short grocery lists.

That morning I was, for the first time in my life and never to be repeated, excited to go to school. The sense of belonging filled me to the bones, the idea that I, too, could be cool. The secret was a packet of dry fried noodles and a tiny package of mostly salt and a few spices. And a recess so far away, but finally so close.

In the preceding months I’d studied how the other children did it. They brought their Mr. Noodles out of their backpacks and placed them on their desks. And then with the deftness and skill of a surgeon, they slammed their fists into the plastic, breaking up the noodles inside. They carefully opened up one end of the package, removed the spices, tore a corner off of the silvery square, and poured the brown-ish green mixture onto their noodles. Then, they shook the bag lightly, clutching closed the opened end to mix the spices evenly.

That day, when recess finally came, I took my Mr. Noodles out of my backpack.

I placed it gingerly on my desk. Slow enough that everyone could see what I had brought. They knew, now, that I was one of them. I had sought and pleaded for the golden ticket to their club, and I had brought it with me. And here it was.

I knew what I had to do.

I raised my fist into the air, and brought it down toward my desk and the Mr. Noodles atop it.

And in one moment I saw dry, broken noodles, along with my hopes of one day, one minute, one second of belonging fly into pieces onto the floor.

My classmates reacted the only way children know how.

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