I used to eat lunch by myself at school. I'd sit at the end of the table wearing my big parka (I don't usually use that word parka, I think it's more mid-west style, but I really had a parka, one of those army green down coats with the hood that had grey fur trim; the hood came out from my face a bit to protect me from the subzero Himalayan winds), sitting in front of my tray, little carton of milk, dried out lasagna (which I loved) or a sandwich on dry bread with some sort of pink meat inside. I was fine with this. I preferred it. I was always hungry and I'm pretty sure I ate everything I was served with no complaints. My kids find this incomprehensible, well Mo just thinks it's a little sad, the others are flummoxed. You should hear the screams. Weren't you embarrassed? Oh My God! How could you do this? Mom! Why did you wear your coat? Didn't you have one single friend?
As far as they are concerned I am the poster child for a victim of bullying, the creepy loser that people talked about behind her back, or worst of all, the invisible child. The greasy unwashed hair, the big smelly coat. The LUNCH BY MYSELF.
I have no common ground to have this make any sense to them. I went to the same school from Kindergarden to 12th grade, all girls; I wore a uniform. I didn't worry about anyone looking at me or judging my outfit. I ate lunch alone because I was hungry and just wanted to eat, not because no one liked me; I had friends and was comfortable on my own. We all wore the same exact thing, my parka was my defining feature, the thing that made me unique and jazzy.
When I look over in the middle of my monologue, I see their faces go from incomprehension to pity. They pat my back, shake their heads slowly. Suddenly they see me in a new light and I look worse than they imagined.
They just don't get it.