My cheese sandwich is not like the others.
We all want to make a connection.
We see a news story, read something on social media, or talk to a friend. We might think, “I know exactly what you mean!”
But where we might see stunning similarities, others may only perceive glaring differences.
My Cheese Sandwich Moment
It was 1977 and my first year at senior school. I was 12 years old and deeply and hopelessly in love with David in the year above me.
Alas! A second-year senior boy would never seriously consider a first-year as his ‘girlfriend’.
But I lived in hope. I trailed around after him during break time at school. He made me laugh. I thought he might like me, a bit.
I walked home with his crowd of second-year friends, even though it was well out of my way.
David’s best friend Robert was going out with my older sister, so I held on to hope that magically, one day, he might consider us a foursome.
We could go to the cinema. Hold hands. Snog.
I adored his expressive face, his lovely curly hair and large sparkling brown eyes.
He was funny, clever, handsome and he lived in a big house. His father was a doctor. He read real books. His family were educated and worldly in a way mine weren’t.
My heart hurt when I thought of him and the boyfriend potential.
How could I, a lowly, stunted first-year ever make a connection with this handsome, smart boy?
How could I possibly make him see we were Meant To Be?
The answer came one lunchtime. We were in the playground (Ha! Dead giveaway to my senior school naivety. To call the outside tarmacked space a ‘playground’ was the height of uncool.) So, I was hanging around David and Robert as usual. I was on the edge of his vision. Trying to see if he would notice me.
He had packed lunch, same as me. I didn’t often eat mine. Except … today I saw David was eating a cheese sandwich.
A cheese sandwich.
A CHEESE SANDWICH.
A kind of logical klaxon went off in my head.
I ALSO HAD A CHEESE SANDWICH IN MY BAG!
Surely, surely this was The Sign I’d been waiting for?
It was obvious to me.
We both had cheese sandwiches.
If David saw me eating a cheese sandwich alongside him, he might just say ‘Hey, you, you’re alright!’ and we could move a step closer to my romantic dreams.
My heart was beating hard at this sublime and extremely rational plan to make David fall in love with me.
I scrambled around in my school bag and took out the squashed cheese sandwich my mum had made. It was supermarket white bread, a sweaty slab of cheddar cheese, bound in clingfilm like a mummy.
I unwrapped my cheese sandwich hurriedly and took a bite. I wasn’t hungry, and it tasted of rank plastic. But I looked up quickly to make sure David saw that I was sharing the same lunch as him.
That he could see we were together in our Cheese Sandwich Experience.
David did look up. He did see my cheese sandwich. And he said (in words that are toasted into my heart) “Urgh! Yuck. Poor you! Imagine, THAT kind of boring bread with THAT kind of cheese. Urgh. Yuck.”
Then he turned away and bit into his far superior cheese sandwich of fresh, crusty granary bread, flavoursome Red Leicester cheese and crisp green lettuce.
I realised I’d got it wrong.
My Cheese Sandwich was not the same as his Cheese Sandwich at all.
There was an intellectual and social gulf between us.
The bite of sandwich in my mouth turned to vile glue.
David could never love me. I was inferior in every way to him and his mighty cheese sandwich lifestyle.
My crest was well and truly fallen. My heart broken. Robert (the best friend) must’ve seen, because he kindly said, “That wasn’t very nice David.”
But David just continued being himself. Looning about. Having a laugh. He wasn’t even aware of the Cheese Sandwich Moment.
It made me realise that you can’t make a connection with an experience or with someone, just because you want to.
Your Cheese Sandwich is not Their Cheese Sandwich.
The valuable life lessons that cheese sandwich moment taught me:
1. Your own experiences and perceptions in life are never going to be exactly the same as someone else’s. What you might think is OK, another person might hate (and vice-versa).
2. Use a sandwich box.
3. If you get the chance, try new foods.
4. David was a sandwich-snob. And a bit of a tw*t.