Those two words would strike more fear in the hearts of school kids in my day than “go to the principal’s office.” We even feared liver day more than that pink sawdust stuff they put on puke when a kid had too much fun on the playground after lunch.
Liver day. Seriously, those two words make me shudder to this day. When I was a kid, liver day was fairly rare, but it did happen. It was usually a Friday, it seems to me. If you had not packed a lunch that particular day you had three choices: Eat the liver (never a good choice); eat everything on the plate except that disgusting liver; or give the liver to Robin, the crazy kid in our class who couldn’t get enough liver.
For the record, Robin was also the kid who ate glue and the stuff he pulled from his nose, so what he found appetizing was always suspect in our eyes.
I had a mom who made sure I had a lunch packed on liver day. PB&J, chips and a Ding Dong. I was the envy of pretty much everyone in the lunchroom. Ding Dongs were the gold standard of lunch desserts in the 1970s. And they brought a high price when it came to dealing at the lunch table.
“Hey Brad, can I have your Ding Dong?”
“Sure, for $1.”
“A dollar? Who do you think I am, Howard Hughes?” (He was the one rich guy we all knew about).
“OK, then 50 cents, three of your best clear marbles and a Hank Aaron baseball card.”
The bargaining could go on for much of the lunch period. It usually ended with the entire deal being called off because I really just wanted to eat that Ding Dong.
Most kids who did not have a mom as cool as I did would just shuffle down to the end of the lunch table toward Robin, who was really the king of liver day. They would scrape the offending organ onto the pile growing on Robin’s lunch tray and then shuffle out to the playground like hungry zombies in search of brains.
Robin, meanwhile, gorged happily – liver chunks stuck to his face. They actually stayed there for a couple of days. Robin didn’t care, and apparently his parents didn’t either.
I don’t think there is such a thing as liver day anymore. Now it is about fresh and healthy, which is a good thing I suppose. I’m not sure there is a “kale” day at schools, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Little Jackson and Britney staring at their phones as they munch on vegetables like rabbits, sipping water and eyeing the modern day version of Robin at the end of the table, eating a sandwich like a homeless person. He doesn’t even have a phone! And is that meat he is eating? The horror!
OK, it’s probably not like that at all, but in my mind kids todays are just a little too pampered and a little too precious. They need a liver day. That will toughen them up a little, give them something to talk with their therapists about.
Sadly, today’s parents would probably sue the school for trying to force their little darlings to eat liver.
But it puts a smile on my face knowing that out there, somewhere, is Robin. He is still eating liver, and maybe even picking his nose. But the fact that he still exists in this increasingly sterile world makes me feel good.
Here’s to Robin, the king of liver day.
Brad Jennings is editor of The Ogle County Life.