One year I brought a loaf of white bread to the Thanksgiving potluck at work. Another year I brought Halloween candy, most of which I had gathered from work over the previous month. Most years I bring nothing, and when people ask which dish is mine, I point vaguely in the direction of a table and then pretend my phone is ringing.
“Who brought Charleston Chews to the potluck?” said Gladys from accounts, her voice a shrill and fiery disapproval that tore through every hallway in the office like molten lava. “It has bats and ghosts on it! Honestly, how hard is it to use a stove?”
Very hard, Gladys. There are at least six or seven knobs and buttons on my stove, and I have no idea what most of them do. I pressed a button once, and it turned on some weird fan that made the entire room smell like expired lunch meat. The microwave has never done that to me, Gladys. Neither have Charleston Chews. Lesson learned.
Work potlucks are fantastic events. There’s a real lack of caring from everyone involved, which makes the atmosphere very comfortable. It’s a Ghetto Thanksgiving, for lack of a better term. Bring in any trash off the street that appears to be food, and you can trade it for real food made by someone with actual cooking skills. You’d think the skilled people would catch on after a few years and stop working so hard on their dishes, but they’re very stubborn. They believe their good example will cause me to become honest over time. They are wrong.
“People are bringing too much dessert,” said Gladys, her hands perched on her waist like an angry mother eager to deliver a beating. “People should be bringing meat or actual dinner food, not just junk food.”
Don’t be a meat bitch, Gladys. I appreciate the fact that people attempted to cook something, burned it horribly, and then made it into a dessert by spreading marshmallow over the top of it. Think of it as a subtle nod to our country’s recent foreign policy efforts.
I always get away with bringing crap to potlucks. My legendary reputation of being a terrible cook precedes me so much that this year the organizer of my workplace potluck only asked me to bring a 12-pack of soda. Naturally, I will be bringing Grape Shasta, and then eating three plates of whatever awesome stuff everyone else brought.
“Look at all this store bought food,” said Gladys, grunting so much that people nearby swore the sound was coming from the restroom. “Everyone should know how to cook. It’s easy.”
Things are better this way, Gladys. Trust me. The only food I can cook is eggs and hashbrowns, and both always end up burned and tasting like the pan I cooked them in. Much how a mother or father’s cooking will always taste better because of the love added to it, my cooking will always taste terrible because I add a little bit of my own personal failure to each dish. My home-cooked meals swap out the heart and soul for failure and bullshit. Also, dog hair. I’m too lazy to dust my apartment properly, so there’s dog hair pretty much everywhere. You get used to it.
Ironically, I once worked as a cook at a Perkins restaurant in college. I had applied for a server position, but they badly needed a cook and claimed they could train me. They claimed they could train anyone to cook. I proved them wrong. After three months, I was so bad at it that I was still only allowed to make pancakes, and only while supervised by a real cook.
If left unattended, they knew I would get bored and attempt to make Mickey Mouse pancakes, which wouldn’t have been so bad if they didn’t always turn out horribly deformed. I’d try to salvage the pancakes by chopping off the mutated ears, but the head cook would scold me, saying the customers wouldn’t appreciate pancakes that looked half-eaten.
After three months of terrible cooking and spotty attendance, they fired me. The head cook was more devastated than I was. I think my inability to learn even the most basic skills broke his spirit. He might still be a shattered shell of a man today. I don’t care enough to check.
So Grape Shasta it is! Nothing wrong with that. It’ll put some hair on everyone’s chest. Not as much as the food poisoning they’d get from my cooking, but it’s something.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, you’re welcome, co-workers. You’re welcome.