Tim Miller, 6th Grade

Today’s school lunch was chicken sandwich. My kid’s favorite. So we drove by the school to try for something, anything, that had even the slightest shred of normalcy.

It came with carrots and a carton of milk. Which took me back….

In 6th grade, my dad put me on the milk plan at Wilmot Junior High. One the first day of school, at lunch, I walked into the cafeteria and followed other kids to the Milk Line. I waited until it was my turn at the Milk Desk, and told a big scary 8th grader, let’s call him Plish, “Tim Miller, 6th grade.” He gave me a milk and checked my name off the list.

I did the same thing the next day. And the day after that. And every day of 6th grade.

The other kids figured it out. There weren’t all that many kids—this was after all the golden era of Capri Sun. After about a week or so, the Plishster had it down. He already knew all the 8th graders. Besides, you don’t become Milk Chief without some skillz upstairs.

The face, the name. White or chocolate. Next. It was very orderly. Kids waited, maybe smiled or said ‘Thank you” and the Plishmaster checked them off. And his lowly, un-named assistant would hand over the milk. But not me.

“Tim Miller, 6th Grade.”

I like to think it was a bright spot in ol’ Plishdiddy’s day. He looked at me sort of like Ryan from the Office. Exactly like that. He would wait for it. Lean in a little. Sometimes ask me to repeat, just to be sure. Sometimes he went with a preemptive strike. “By any chance are you Tim Miller, 6th Grade?”

Sometimes the Plishmaster would see me in the hallway and say, “Hey, look. It’s Tim Miller. 6th Grade.”

Ahh, those were the days.

My middle daughter Mia doesn’t like chocolate milk. For some reason she thinks the 18 grams of sugar make it too sweet.

“Do you want it?” my wife asked.

“Sure,” I said. But I couldn’t drink it. I couldn’t even open it. Something was holding me back. Then I said, “Tim Miller, 6th Grade.” It went down so smooth. Nothing says school lunch like chocolate milk.

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