#329 Being able to twist the lid off the jar after nobody else could

I used to hang out at Jean’s place.

Yes, back when I was in second grade and my sister Nina was in Kindergarten we spent our lunchtimes and after schools at a do-it-yourself daycare run by a leathery old woman named Jean. Her home was a cold and dark playground of plastic toys and Thundercats reruns and we spent hours and hours there for years and years.

At lunchtime the seven or eight kids she looked after crowded around a wobbly plastic table to dive into her famously greasy lunches. Grilled Cheez Whiz on buttery white bread, mayo-drenched tuna casseroles, and bologna and processed cheese sandwiches were a few of her faves. And Jean always capped each meal by pouring a big jar of apple sauce, syrupy peach slices, or fruit salad into little bowls for each of us.

I remember watching Jean try to open those jars like it was yesterday. Honestly, she’d be huffing and puffing till we thought she’d fall over. Sometimes she’d hold the jar under hot water, other times she’d twist it with a dish cloth, and then there was my favorite — the spectacularly loud bang-and-clang-the-lid-with-a-knife move, which we always suspected would result in a serving of pear halves sprinkled with shattered glass, but fortunately never did.

Poor Jean was surrounded by a weak and wide-eyed army of tiny hands, spaghetti noodle arms, and saggy biceps. We couldn’t help her much but after watching her suffer for years we took firm blood oaths to help others open those tough-to-open jars whenever we could.

Yes, twisting the lid of the jar after nobody else could fills you with a strong sense of Superman Pride. Suddenly you’re Popeye, Mr. Universe, or The Incredible Hulk, beaming like a flashlight in front of the kitchen counter as you hand back a freshly opened jar of


Photos from: here, here, and here

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