I'm not a cook. It's not that I'm a bad cook. I just don't cook. At least not very often. I mean, I'm sure I'd be a good cook if I tried. At least I try to convince myself of this fact. When I hear the word "potluck," however, my ears perk up. My adventurous spirit starts to rouse, and my brain convinces myself that not only can I cook, but I am a chef.
I'll never forget the first time. It was the Pastor's Appreciation Dinner of 2007. Based on my last name, I was supposed to bring a meat or pasta dish. Lasagna, I thought. Here is a word to the wise. No matter how easy you think it may be, and no matter how good that lasagna may look in your head, do not, I repeat, do not attempt lasagna for the first time for a potluck. Especially not the day of the potluck. It's not pretty. Just trust me on this one. I speak from experience.
The next time was the Missions Luncheon of 2008. I wanted to redeem myself from the disaster of 2007, so I decided to try pasta again, but I took an easier route. Spaghetti with homemade meatballs. The spaghetti itself wasn't too bad, actually. A bit dry, perhaps. It was the meatballs that proved to be the problem. They would have perfect, had I been attempting to make round hockey pucks.
Next was the Youth Graduation Dinner of 2009. Alfredo. That didn't involve meat. I figured I could handle that one. Notice how each dish takes the difficulty level down a notch. The pasta was the best yet. The sauce left a bit... okay... a lot to be desired. It may have reminded some of them of their kindergarten days when they used to eat the paste. That, however, was not the effect I was going for. Reminiscing is good. Paste, when intended to be food, is not.
Cue the Lady's Luncheon of 2010. This time, I decided pasta was the culprit, and took an entirely different route. Jello. How hard could it be? You mix up the Jello, and you put it in the refrigerator. There's nothing simpler than that, right? Well, apparently, someone forgot to relay that message to the Jello. I followed the instructions, added some fruit... to add flavor, you know, and put it in the refrigerator. I couldn't wait until the next morning to see my tantalizing dish waiting for me. I took it out of the refrigerator to take a closer look. Uh... straws, anyone?
Then there was the 2011 Church Picnic. Now one would think by now that I would have learned my lesson. That would be wrong. God bless my resilient... okay. Fine. God bless my stubborn little soul. This time I decided to try cookies. After all, that wasn't even cooking. That was just baking. Yes, I realized that a Jello dish isn't exactly cooking either. But that is besides the point. How hard could cookies be? Once again, I followed the directions exactly. Or at least I thought I had. I still take a bit of pride in the fact that they were not burnt. They were, however, harder than a baseball and flatter than a Frisbee.
You may have noticed by now that each of these events has been associated with my church. There are two reasons for that. One, we all know that no one does potlucks like churches do potlucks. Two, I know that my church family will love me unconditionally, no matter what dish I present to them. Who am I kidding? You're crazy if you think any of these dishes actually made it to the church. There is no shame in buying something from the store. Just make sure you use your own serving dish, and tell everyone it's a secret family recipe that you cannot share, for fear of death.
Don't worry. I have learned my lesson now. Wait. The Fifth Sunday Lunch is coming up? Don't mind if I do. I'll bring the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They'll be the meanest PB&J you've ever met. In one way or another, I can promise you that.
If this doesn't work, I give up. Next time I'll just bring the chips and dip.
This story is fiction. I do not cook. I do not get an adventurous spirit when it comes to potlucks. I'm the one who brings the chips and dip.
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