My nicely planned day went completely pear-shaped before 7 AM. Grr. Everything that usually occurs on Monday, did not, and new meetings sprang up to fill the spaces like mushrooms in compost. I ended up having a noon meeting, so I grabbed my bento and hied myself to the conference room, fully prepared to be mortified eating in a meeting.

When I got there, another attendee was already snarfing down a sandwich, so I apologized for bringing my lunch to a meeting and opened up my bento. That’s when things got weird.

I eat at my desk quite a bit, but I guess folks don’t really pay attention. As people trickled into the conference room, though, they were confronted with A’s take-out clamshell and my bento. “What is that?” “That’s so efficient!” “Did you make that?” et cetera. My bento attracted an embarrassing amount of attention for such an innocuous little blue box.

I admit, the contents were a little odd for a Western lunch. Home-made inarizushi, made from black rice and home-made tofu pockets, Japanese cabbage salad, carrot sticks, mushrooms, and mixed nuts for ‘dessert.” It unpacks in three tidy little packages, then packs back up into a single tidy little package. You would have thought I had invented nuclear fusion.

I don’t like eating in front of people I don’t know very well. Chewing and swallowing seems very intimate and personal to me. Also, eating in front of people who are not eating seems rude, and offends the Southern part of my genetic heritage. Now, I am triply compelled to avoid this situation, because how I pack my lunch is so very distracting, as is what I pack.

Nonetheless, this turned out to be a perfect day for bento. I ate on time; I ate healthily; I navigated the shoals of uncertainty with aplomb. Not bad.

Tomorrow, I will work 12 hours. I must remember to carry food, again. Otherwise, things could get… freaky.


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