Saturday, December 3, 2011

Time Flies and So Do Lunch Boxes

Another week's gone by, and I guess it's time to discuss the long, checkered history of the Tweet-o-Chomp, the flying lunch box that I invented for my best friend, Claude Hinkey.  It all began the day his mother announced that if he forgot his lunch box one more time, she was going to chain it around his neck with a padlock.  (That was also the day Claude shared my peanut butter and jelly sandwich and ate the half that had all the jelly.)

Now it's not hard at all to build a flying lunch box, but somehow some little thing always went wrong.  One lunch box flew through the front window of Wickelfitter's Hardware Store and tried to force its way into a wren house.  Another one built a nest in the steeple of St. Swithin's church, and Claude's chocolate milk almost drowned the boy who rang the bells on Sunday morning.

Even when the lunch boxes actually arrived at school, there were minor difficulties.  Like the time I used pigeon feathers and Claude couldn't get his lunch box down from the school roof.  Or the time I tried warbler feathers and the lunch box chirped all morning outside the window of the home economics room.  Ms. Snafu-Fuba kept mistaking it for her tea kettle and turned the stove on and off so often that the knob fell apart.  She had to leave school early with a headache.  (I suppose I should invent a knobless stove for her, but I've been a little busy lately.)

For two weeks I invented a new lunch box device for Claude every day, but something always went amiss.  Finally Claude pointed out that he'd spent his allowance for the next seven years on lunch boxes and hadn't managed to eat lunch once.  The only remaining option was to build in a homing function so that Claude could blow a whistle and call the lunch box.

As you know if you've read my life story, Flat Like Fred, whistles can be risky.  It was, after all, a whistle that led to the arrival of alien tadpoles in Wampler, Wisconsin (not to mention its leading to Mr. Rugby, our principal, being trampled into a petunia patch by a truckful of stray dogs).  Well, what happened this time was that the lunch box with the homing device summoned all the other lunch boxes.   They gathered on the courthouse lawn (where a traffic clerk who was fond of over-ripe bananas had a memorable lunch).  And then they flew south for the winter.

To speed their flight, the lunch boxes ditched their lunches enroute, and it rained jalapeno pickles and cottage cheese in Elephant Foot, Kentucky.  The last I heard, the lunch boxes had arrived in Oglewarts, Florida, where ornithologists from all over the world were gathering to observe them.  I worry what might happen next spring when the flock migrates north, but for right now, Claude (whose name and address were on his original lunch box) has received a citation from the Audubon Society.

And his mother refuses to pack him any more lunches, so he's still eating half of mine.

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