Ask anyone who ever spent time in school being the new kid, the chubby kid, the too smart kid, the poor kid, the nerdy kid, the learning disabled kid, the kid who wears the wrong jeans, the kid with the neck brace, the gay kid, or really just any kid who has the nerve to be different, the most gut wrenching part of the day is lunch.
Classroom time at least pretends to be egalitarian. Normal kids sit along side the popular. The teacher controls the setting, although inhumanity often finds its way. Lunch, on the other hand, is Darwinian theory in its cruelest form. The strong and the beautiful perform mating dances while leaving everyone else to fend for themselves. School social hierarchy is multi-tiered. First tiered people are only seen with first tiered people, second with second and so on. But inevitably, there are some that are left alone. Some brave the cafeteria. Some find a little hideaway, hoping that no one will see them. Some hold back tears. For some, the tears break through. Some are so heartbroken that they give up on the world entirely.
Sometimes, as Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and the Onion often prove, truth is best told in satire. This Onion article is a fictional story of a 12 year-old boy who happens to be gay. The boy eats lunch alone in the stairwell of the school, the place where he is best accepted. It tells the story of Ben McElroy of Saginaw Michigan. Of course, Ben is a fictional character, but he is as real as you or me.
McElroy, who has revealed his sexual orientation to no one but is unceasingly ridiculed by his peers for perceived feminine qualities in his voice, dress, and gait, confirmed that he enjoys his solitary meal on the staircase far more than the bus ride to school, the walk from the bus to homeroom, finding an unobtrusive seat in the back of every class and hoping he doesn’t get called on, receiving anonymous text messages from classmates telling him to kill himself, and every other moment of his day.
In addition, McElroy said that as his lunch period approaches, he enjoys staring at the clock on the wall and eagerly counting down the minutes until he can finally sit and eat alone on the seldom-traversed staircase in the school’s South Hall.
“Sometimes when I’m in third period, I get this excited feeling inside knowing lunch is coming up,” said McElroy, adding that the solitude offered by his staircase location allows him plenty of time and space to perform his usual ritual of carefully laying out his lunch on the step in front of him and moving through it piece by piece. “It’s probably the most excited I get all day. I’d come here on weekends if they’d let me.”
McElroy, who sources reported has been called “faggot” on 43 separate occasions in the past month, confirmed his favorite lunch spot is strategically located on the exact opposite end of the building from both the gymnasium and the hall most frequented by the school’s eighth-graders.
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