Saturday, August 20, 2011

Radio Potluck with Guido

by Steve Downing, aka Guido

            Pot. Luck. Two words, become one. Let’s leave the first for another poem and focus on the second, as it relates to you and the thing our two-word word identifies.
            How is your luck running? At the potluck, there may or may not be E. coli in the home-made beef stew. Salmonella in the deviled eggs. A very long---or, worse, short and curly---hair or two in the fruit salad. Lead in the venison chili. Mercury in the pickled fish. Suppose whoever brought the gallon jug of ice-house punch has an axe to grind and spiked it with one or another friendly chemical: mescaline, say, or laboratory tetrahydrocannabinol.
            Still: at any given potluck dinner you’re more likely to discover a new (and nice) spice combination, or dessert presentation, than you are to assume your role in the next life, or even to wind up lie-down, sit-down, get-down sick.
            The offerings on potluck dinner tables always exude hope, don’t they. Hopefulness. Remember: potluck dishes, themselves, are no strangers to the vagaries of luck. Lovely as they look, they could easily have blown up in the oven, or collapsed as they cooled, or acquired the unmistakable flavor of dish soap somewhere, almost anywhere, in the process.
            To say nothing of the transit risk. Who hasn’t had a crockpot full of chutney curry soup turn dramatically un-full, in the car, potluck-bound, when a stop sign materialized out of nowhere, or a deer?
            A key tenet of old-school Occidental philosophy---“When something is spilled, something else is not spilled”---won’t mitigate the crockpot mess in your car, but it does remind us that everything is connected.
            And this is the point of the potluck meal, too: we may be up to our eyeballs in hard times and bad ways, but we’re in it together. What’s mine is yours. Yours, mine.
            That may warm the cockles of your chilled-out Marxist heart, but, between you and me, a cautionary note: think twice about bringing anything ostentatiously left-wingy-healthy to the potluck. Most folks will take a forkful and pretend to love it, but the Bubble-Up Pizza Hotdish with added blue cheese and bacon bits is what everyone will be talking about tomorrow.
            My theory: bring bread. Period. Not for nothing are there more than 300 references to bread in the Bible. And a loaf of bread that doesn’t catch on at the potluck will seem a lesser failure than a fussy, fancy (or un-fancy) tofu loaf that sits there on the table at the party looking just hopeful.

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