The message scribbled in blue Sharpie marker on the sandwich bag containing a ham, cheese, lettuce and pickle sandwich – part of my lunch one day last week that also included a granola bar, a little sealed container of peach slices and a plum – had taken a decidedly darker turn compared to the lighter, more loving messages in my lunch my wife for quite some time had been known to author.

    “The (insert your favorite swear word in plural form here) stole my patent!” she wrote.

    In actuality, there was nothing for the (repeat plural swear word) to steal. My wife had never actually sought to patent, trademark or otherwise secure as her own intellectual property and in doing so potentially profit from her practice of writing positive, encouraging, reassuring and/or uplifting, confidence-enhancing and self-esteem-boosting words on lunch items she makes for me. Nor did she seek to publicly claim her penchant for lunchtime positive reinforcement as her own invention over the many years that she’s made lunches for our sons that they’d taken with them to work or on a road trip on game days.

    In fact, my wife never tried to pretend that she was the only wife and mom on the planet, or probably even in our neighborhood, to do such a wife-like but especially mom-like thing like taking a moment each day to jot down some happy thoughts that the recipients of her lunches would see before devouring whatever she’d prepared for them.

    But, still, it’s not like EVERY wife and mom does this. Certainly my wife and our sons’ mom was in the minority. Most husbands and kids lucky enough to have a lunch prepared for them by their loving wife and mom likely aren’t also so fortunate to have happy, uplifting words included in their lunches, too.

    So, she felt pretty good about the little gesture she took the time to carry out each day, to draw a smiley-face or a heart, or to tell someone to have a good day or to wish someone good luck in their game.

    So good, in fact, that she mentioned a few months ago that she should invent an actual white box or some type of white space on sandwich bags or chip bags, specifically for moms and wives and anyone else who makes lunches and wants to go the extra mile by writing a few happy words for the recipient. As she lined up three thermal lunch bags on the counter one morning earlier this summer, she even mentioned that a particularly innovative mind could reserve a little white area on the thermal/cooler bags themselves for similar messages. With the right marker, she said, you could wipe off yesterday’s positive thoughts and replace them with today’s kind words.

    But, then, for reasons that could only be rooted in the fact that she’s super-busy at work and tries to fit in exercising and who knows how many other things into the waking hours of each day – she’s upped her daily step goal from 10,000 to 12,000 and even 14,000, for crying out loud – my wife never acted on her idea. She just kept scribbling messages on sandwich bags or on Post-It Notes included in the lunches she made, sometimes in black marker, sometimes in blue, and now and then in red or green. (We bought a Sharpie variety pack a while back for some reason.)

    Then she saw the TV commercial. It was for Doritos or something similar, and there was an actress portraying a doting mom making lunch for her kids, and in the corner of every snack-sized bag of chips, there was a white space. And wouldn’t you know it, “mom” was writing happy thoughts in that very spot.

    My wife unleashed a brief tirade, and I think her serious/joking ratio was around 80/20. She hit the 30-second rewind button on the remote control to, I could only surmise, further cement the fact that her brilliant notion had been ruthlessly copped by a mega-corporation that makes fatty snacks.

    The next day at my desk around noon, as I read my wife’s vented frustration on my sandwich bag, it was my turn to encourage her, in a text, by noting that her lunchtime messages are still the best, even without a special white space. She replied with several red heart emojis, and all was good.

    But that doesn’t mean I  ate the peach slices.