Potlucks make me a nervous wreck.
I’m not a huge fan but I get the need. I understand why we have them. I just don’t really like eating food made in Coughing Sue’s kitchen or on Bad Breath Bob’s grill.
When I am asked to bring something to one, I usually just buy something from the store. This past Saturday, I was quite happy with my purchase.
“Well, I got the tamales!” I said to my husband and kids as I got back into the car. They dropped me off at the grocery store so that I could run in to buy something.
“What are tamales?” both boys asked.
“Oh, it’s like a dry enchilada,” I explained as I looked down at my phone. “Uh-oh.”
“What?” my husband asked.
“It’s not a potluck.”
The neighborhood swim team’s back-to-school party we were headed to was not a potluck. That is what the e-mail said. It said it right there: “Bring a picnic and a dessert to share.”
Why can’t I read better?
“Well, kids, it looks like we are having a picnic but the only item we’re eating are tamales! We’re having a tamale picnic!”
“What are tamales?”
“Enchiladas with nothing on it. Basically. Remember?”
We had driven well away from the grocery store already and we were already running late. Also, grocery stores on a Sunday BE CRAZY. Going back for a dessert wasn’t really an option because, hello, there’s my driveway.
The thing is, you can’t come to a dessert-luck with no dessert. You are not allowed to pick up that brownie unless you’ve laid down a brownie. Or a lemon bar. Or a cookie. Or a macaron.
“You guys go ahead. I will be right there.” I said to my husband and kids once we got home. The boys had to change into their swimsuits. They were going to ride over on their bikes and I was going to follow behind them in the car.
I wanted a brownie bite, dingdangit. I couldn’t leave that house until I turned something into a dessert around here.
Cheez-its with powdered sugar on top?
Welllllll…. Maybe? Okay, no.
A half cup of forgotten mixed nuts?
And there I saw it.
Oatmeal cookies!! I could make oatmeal cookies!! They only take 10 minutes to bake and I have everything!!
So, I whipped those suckers up.
Ten minutes later, I was face-to-face with this pitiful thing:
I’m sure that is because I didn’t use real butter. Or something.
That “cookie” turned out looking like a close-up of one of Jupiter’s moons.
Or Mars’ armpit.
It tasted pretty armpit-ish, too.
I still shoveled the hot moon rocks onto a plate. All I needed to secure the future brownie was to set something edible made with sugar onto the dessert table. I had it all planned out. I was going to set these slices of space down on the table without a soul seeing me.
I had a plan:
-I put them on a disposable plate.
-I covered it with foil.
-I put them into a bag.
If no dish had to be returned to me, no one would make the connection. The foil would provide a shield against inquiring eyes.
This was going to work.
Once I got there, I put my head down and scurried to the looming dessert table. I glanced to my left and to my right. No one was there. I quickly dropped it like it’s hot.
And then I saw them.
The three people that came out of nowhere. The three people that now knew I belonged to this guy:
We were permanently and forever linked.
“I wouldn’t eat these,” I spewed.
It’s not like they were tempted. People usually don’t lurch for food that resembles a cow turd.
Did these really qualify me for a brownie? These people would now be judging me. Had I really made a legitimate deposit at the dessert table to warrant a bite of a powdered donut?
“So, did you end up making a dessert?” my husband asked when I saw him later. I had obviously scurried so well that he didn’t notice my covert Cookie Dump mission.
“Sort of? Can we get a dessert if you ‘sort of’ made dessert? What did you make?”
“Oatmeal cookies. They’re awful.”
“All oatmeal cookies are awful. Why would you make oatmeal cookies?”
“I had to make a deposit at the dessert table! There was nothing else to make besides frozen vegetables covered in Hershey’s syrup. I had to make something. You can’t just waltz into a neighborhood gathering and stuff your face full of eclairs without leaving something you brought on the table. If I had read that e-mail right, that dessert in there would’ve been good. But, yeah, anyway, It’s simple Neighborhood Gatherings Economics. Leave a dessert, take a dessert.”
“But, oatmeal cookies?”
“Well, okay then. I just wanted to know if we could eat something besides tamales.”
My boys: “What are tamales?”
FOR THE LOVE.
The night, as unlikely as this seems after my dessert issues, went well. Lots of fun conversations took place. The kids had fun. The company was great.
But, still remaining dispersed through the crowd were The Three That Saw. There was no escaping this reality. They couldn’t unsee what they saw anymore than Hilary Clinton can go a day without a blazer.
As much as I had hoped and prayed these three would forget this ugly moment in time when I plopped down the Ugly & Hardly Edible Things, a conversation got started by one of them as the night was winding down.
“Are you the one that made that mound of cookies over there?” a neighbor asked as he walked over to the moon rocks. “Didn’t I see you put these down?”
“You made those cookies in the corner there, right?”
“Yes. Yes, it was me. Fine. IT WAS ME! I AM COMING CLEAN! IT WAS ME!!” I exclaimed in despair as I held my wrists out for cuffing.
“Ha! Well, check this out. Look, y’all check this out!” He called to his friends. “HAHAHA!!!”
He went to pick up the top cookie on the Mound O’Moon Rocks and THE WHOLE MOUND CAME UP. The whole. flippin’. mound. The whole entire plate of cookies, the plate included, lifted up.
I had essentially made a cookie sculpture.
One Of The Ones That Saw tried to be diplomatic with his “but I bet it tastes good!” as he chiseled off a piece of the mound and plopped it in his mouth.
He quickly retracted that statement.
I dumped those suckers in the trash in front of everyone and came home and did this to the ones I had left on the pan:
As much as the pain stews in my heart, I am able to see the positives. The one thing I am proud of from that night? I never did eat any dessert. Not a bite. The guilt was just too great.
My kids? They definitely had dessert.
My husband? Oh, yeah.
I fully expect the HOA to knock on the door tomorrow. If they do, I’ll be ready with a cookie.
I saved one just for them.
(I just said that so you could gaze at its beauty one final time.)