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Potluck Dinners: The Tradition That Must Die

Inevitable is the lentil. They always begin and end with lentils, with particle-board textured homemade bread weighing down the kitchen table alongside several undressed, probably soil-and sunflower-seed-specked salads just yanked from an overgrown garden. And everything, all of it, oversalted with the tears of the children faced with this groaning board of despair. Decent, normal, happy kids who just want a burger and some dessert. Who lack the necessary vocabulary of outrage to coherently elucidate why a thick chunk of murder-red beet jammed between two undercooked slices of heirloom potato do not equal a hamburger on any conceivable level.

Welcome, my friends, to the potluck dinner. Eat if you must, but leave early enough to stop at a restaurant on the way home. If not for yourself, at least for the children. Please, for the children.

If Harry S. Truman had the guts to stop the buck in the Oval Office, then allow me to carry on that tradition, in the Sort of Square Office in Elizabethtown, with its the gustative corollary of Trumans famed challenge: The Potluck Stop Here.

I no longer attend potluck dinners. In part because Im never invited to them anymore, but mostly because anyone whos known me for more than 10 minutes has heard my often repeated and, at this point, searingly boring opinions on potlucks.

Now, Im sure these dinners have a long tradition in these mountains related to community survival and recipes passed down through generations, a North Country history so steeped in legend that Ill receive at least three overwrought letters of outrage.Possibly a menacing phone call. But I have to take that chance, because of all things great and small in this world, I believe passionately in just two: 1) that human space exploration is, at this time, a complete waste of time and money, better performed by robots and computers, and 2) that potluck dinners are the last refuge of the shiftless party-giver.

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