I Care What You Had For Lunch

Today I was thinking again about that silly book: No One Cares What You Had For Lunch. 

I think of that book a lot. I wonder if I still have it. Or did I give it away in a fit of manic bookshelf cleaning? If it’s still in print I think I’ll order it again. Maybe the Kindle edition this time because of that over-flow situation that is my bookshelves. 

This little guide book for new bloggers contains 100 blogging ideas to get you to write about something other than your lunch. 

But despite what the author claims in the title, when it comes to blogs, I happen to be that person who very much cares what you had for lunch. 

I like reading about the mundane aspects of people’s lives. 

I was that creeper who used to walk home from school just as it was getting dark, but before people closed their drapes for the night, and peek into their houses and watch them set the dinner table, watch TV, argue, and read the newspaper under their lamps in their boxers. 

I am also that person who cares about what other people order in restaurants. I’ll ask the waiter, who just put down the plates at a nearby table: “What is that?”

I check out what people are reading on the subway, and the plane, and the bus. I notice people’s shoes as they wait at the airline gate. I wonder if they bought those shoes brand new, just for this trip. A lot of people who travel seem to have new shoes.

I look at tote bags. I check out luggage as it twirls on the carousel. I look at college student backpacks and I have definite opinions about them. 

Back when the yoga studio was open, I looked at my students’ mats. I noticed the age and quality of them, gauging how much mileage they had accrued.

In winter, I notice hats and scarves. I am obsessed with handbags.

I notice if people are well-groomed. Or not.

Now, during these Covid times, I look at masks and how people wear them. I find myself getting pissed off if their noses are sticking out of them. Especially if they are talking in groups. As I pass I want to bark something like: “Masks up, people!”

But I don’t. 

(But I should.)

My favorite author, Haruki Murakami, is my favorite author precisely because his characters are so ordinary and do such ordinary things. 

They make pasta and drink beer and have cats and cook up a nice dinner with a just few simple ingredients. 

“Breakfast was exactly the same every day – dried horse mackerel and fried eggs, a quartered tomato, seasoned dries seaweed, miso soup with shijimi clams, and rice – but for some reason it tasted wonderful every morning.” from 1Q84

Yet these seemingly ordinary characters of his manage to find themselves living through extraordinary situations where magical and mind-blowing things happen to them.

These characters give me hope for my own ordinary life.

Because I want magical and mind-blowing things to happen to me, too.

I think the reason the lives of Murakami’s characters transcend the ordinary is because they pay very close attention to their lives. 

They care what they have for lunch.

Because, really, there is no such thing as an ordinary life.  There is only a life that is paid attention to, and a life that is not. 

6 thoughts on “I Care What You Had For Lunch

  1. When I lived on the north shore of Boston, I used to drive into Marblehead on hot summer evenings, to walk the crooked streets and watch/hear people living their lives. TVs blaring, dinner clatter, pieces of conversations. I usually wound up with a cat or two following me. Thanks for reminding me of this memory.

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  2. I am totally with you on the pleasures of ‘noticing’. As I have got older, I have become increasingly drawn to books about so-called ordinary lives. Such a quiet joy when done well. I am reminded of this quote from one of the masters of such writing, Barbara Pym: “The small things of life were often so much bigger than the great things . . . the trivial pleasure like cooking, one’s home, little poems especially sad ones, solitary walks, funny things seen and overheard.”

    Thanks for caring about our lunches, Kath! 😀

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  3. I liked this piece Kathy. I think one of the reasons is because for 35+ years my lunches were always the subject of great interest at work due to being a vegetarian and always packing our lunch. Anyway, I enjoyed reading it and also your piece about your walk with your friend and pondering how our outlook and habits (?foibles) will be different post pandemic. I’ve become very used to living with the pandemic by now, I’m concerned with how different it’s going to be afterwards.

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