Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What Luck

It’s holiday time. That means gift shopping. And stress. Traffic. And stress. Potluck holiday parties. The biggest stress of all.

I totally get the concept of potluck. Everyone brings something, and everyone eats a bunch of stuff. The term “potluck” has origins in “the luck of the pot,” which suggests there is a factor of mystery, potential risk, you know … “luck.” With luck, the food items will be great and you’ll like at least one of them (probably the one you brought in).

What I don’t get is the sign-up sheet to list what we’re bringing – and not just “side dish” – the menu Nazis usually want details. What side dish? What’s in it? I don’t know. I’ll decide the night before and the end result will be completely dependent upon what time I actually arrive home and how much time is available for its preparation. It is highly likely that my contribution to the event will be whatever is available at Kroger on my way to the event. I am rarely home (awake) long enough to make myself a proper supper never mind whip up a potluck dish. Unlike some potluck participants I have known in the past, my dish is not an attempt to win a popularity contest.

In my mind, once the menu planning comes into play, there is no luck involved in the potluck. It’s now a catered event. Might as well just bring in Martha Stewart and have her start dishing out assignments. My friends who specialize in improvising and accuse me of over-planning everything will probably be surprised by this, but I hate the management and planning aspects of a potluck, which just feels like more of the logistics I have to deal with at work every day.

As if having to commit to a particular dish isn’t enough, there is the scrutiny of the list to deal with. Hearing someone whine for a week before the no-luck-involved potluck that “Nobody signed up for green bean casserole!” can really add a layer of poop icing to the crap cake. You know what? If the damned green bean casserole is that important to you, bring it yourself. I don’t know what it is, I don’t care if we have it, I don’t want to hear about it, and I will not be badgered into making it, whatever it is.

With three potlucks on my immediate horizon, I am stressing over them all, and haven’t signed up for anything yet. I expect the harassment to begin any minute now, and having to decide one to two weeks in advance what I am going to make and commit to it in writing on a sign-up sheet is stress I don’t need. Seriously, I can’t even decide a day in advance what to wear to work, or four hours in advance what to have for lunch. This is one big reason why I eat so much ramen – it’s fast. I can decide to eat, and in five minutes, be eating. If I could predict what I’d have time to fix (or feel like making) two full weeks from now, I could set myself up with a job in fortune telling.

Just trust people will bring something, and if you are lucky, they will. I like to live life on the edge. Or maybe I just have great luck.

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