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 Texas : Features : Columns : Spunky Flat and Beyond :
Spunky Flat and Beyond - A Memoir


THE SMORGASBORD
by George Lester
George Lester
Is it just me, or has this happened to you? You are around people for years, and suddenly, one day, out of the blue, you look at them differently and really see them for the first time. I mean really see them. Before, you were aware of their presence, but you didnít pay much attention to them. When this happens to me, and it often does, I have a guilt complex for a long time because Iíve been so impersonal with a living, breathing person. I then vow it will never happen again, but it does. I donít think we have any control over it, do you?

It goes way back to my childhood when I attended Eureka School. There were only about forty-five kids in the entire school, and I thought I knew each one as well as could be expected. There were some whom I considered close friends, some I thought were okay, but that was as far as it went, and then there were a few I just didnít like at all due to past problems I had had with them. Every school has its bullies, and some of the latter fit into that category.

It happened by accident. One day I had a chance to really get to know the kind of people I had for classmates. When the bell rang at noon, I went to the cloakroom as I always did to get my lunch box. It wasnít there. Only then did I realize I had left it sitting on the kitchen table. To a nine year old, this is a major tragedy. I know my disappointment showed in my face as I sat down with the rest of the kids and watched them eat. One of the students to whom I had hardly spoken was the first to ask me what was wrong. When I explained, she reached into her lunch sack and handed me a sandwich. She said she had more than she needed, but I donít think she did. One at a time, other kids offered part of their lunches until I had more than even I could eat, and I could eat a lot. It wouldnít have been nearly as surprising had all the donations come from my close friends, but many of those I had not really liked very much were the first ones to pitch in. It would make a much better story to say that I was so taken by it all that I couldnít eat, but my hunger overcame my emotions. At that time it was the best meal I had ever had. It tasted so much better with the added flavor of human kindness.
© George Lester

August 9, 2004
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