Friday, April 20, 2018

The Church Potluck Predicament - Fiction

You know, some days a writer has the urge to write whatever comes to mind and then she does. Even if she's not sure where it's going. Today was one of those days. I was thinking about potlucks and some of the crazy things that sometimes show up and touted as edible. When I was growing up, a lime green jello with carrot slivers always made it's way to the dessert table. Dessert? A dish with visible chunks of vegetables surely cannot be considered a dessert, right? Anyway, after a bit of thought, this is what came from my potluck musings. It's just a little snippet. Enjoy.

 ***

The orange jello cottage cheese "casserole" wiggled involuntarily in the leaf embossed Corelle bowl in front of me. Taunting. I could feel Mrs. Purdy's eyes upon me. Expectant. Eager.

I sighed. I scooped. I plopped the slop onto my paper plate.

She clapped her hand upon my shoulder once. Twice. Then released a sigh herself.

The gnats that hovered over the food table suddenly found keen interest in my plate. I moved on down the buffet line. No way was I going to eat this, this, disgusting mass of gelatinous goo. I just needed a moment where I could safely discard it without her knowledge. I closed my eyes in a quick, silent plea for God to be on my side and grant my wish.

Potlucks are a funny thing. Especially church potlucks. It's either feast or famine, rarely is it anything in between. Feast or famine is in the eye of the beholder, it's true. This particular Sunday was a bit of a famine, though Mrs Purdy never failed to show up with her famous concoction. Or maybe it's considered a salad. I've never been sure.

Inspiration hit when two neighborhood dogs showed up, sniffing the ground for food that had dropped from unsuspecting diners' plates. I gave a low whistle and the heads of the mutt and the schnauzer jerked upward. Both tilted their heads in expectation. I walked around the backside of the nearest oak tree with my two new friends trailing not far behind me.

"Here ya go, sweeties. See . . . mmmm . . ."

They dipped their heads toward the task of gulping down the goo and I turned to go.

"Oh, what a shame, Miss Caroline! Did you lose your dessert? C'mon with me and we'll get you some more." Miss Purdy hooked her arm through mine and lead me back to the buffet table.

I looked back over my shoulder to see the two dogs lapping up the orange jello with a fervency usually reserved for the starving. I wondered about the feasibility of "dropping" a second helping onto their proverbial laps.

"I'm gonna stand here and make sure you get some tasty cottage cheese casserole into that tiny belly of yours. C'mon now." Mrs. Purdy's carefully manicured fingers wrapped around a ladle and she dug jello out of the bowl, sliding the mess onto a fresh plate. Then she handed me a plastic spoon.

The dogs came and sat at our feet. Their tongues hung out over their teeth.

With a half smile at Mrs. Purdy, I scooped a spoonful and shoved it into my mouth.

"That's it, dearie. A bit of my jello and the whole world is made right."

I plastered a smile on my face and tried not to swallow.

Miss Purdy's smile expanded across her face as if she'd won the lottery. She patted my shoulder once again and stepped toward the next unsuspecting guest in line.

The dogs tilted their heads first one way and then another. The schnauzer lifted his rump from off the ground and stepped from side to side. He began to whimper. The mutt inched closer at pushed at my shin.

I tipped my plate. The dogs pounced.

If she asked I would tell Mrs. Purdy that the dessert was well received and enjoyed.

I just wouldn't bother to tell her it was by my new canine friends.

***

Joyfully,

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