Saturday, 7 July 2012


I'm just putting it out there - most guys hate Pot Lucks.

OK, sure, there are exceptions and I'm completely basing this statement on a very limited sample. It seems to defy logic - number one it is very close to something dear to many men's hearts - the all you can eat buffet - and number two it means that, by providing something modest, you are entitled to eat a great amount and of great variety. If that is all it was it would no doubt be fine. But it is the unspoken requirements that go along with Pot Luck that ruin it. And, again forgive me, these requirements seem to be female imposed. Or rather they are self imposed by women and men who venture too close to pot luck get caught in the undertow. Also, some of the food is plain gross and unidentifiable but you are expected to try everything.

A couple of years ago, when At Home Dadding, my middle son's co-op nursery school held its annual end of year pot luck. I had a couple of other kids to wrangle and wasn't sure that it was going to work for me and so I didn't sign up for anything. My wife noticed this. And as the time approached, she mentioned more than once I should let them know if I was going and if so what I was bringing. I nodded agreeably and did nothing.

The morning in question I came downstairs to find her dressed for work with an array of foodstuffs on the kitchen counter. She proceeded to give me a quick tutorial on how I could whip up some quick and delicious party sandwiches if I decided to go to the party at the last minute. It did seem quick and easy and they would no doubt be delicious and so at the end of the presentation I thanked her. But then advised her that I wasn't going to be making any party sandwiches. In fact I was not going to make anything. Earlier on in my stay at home career I might have felt obliged to do so and feel resentful or pretend that I was going to and then come up with some lame excuse later on about why I couldn't  but the success of stay At Home Dadding requires a forthright and regular announcement of how you plan on running your show.

She spluttered in indignation. I couldn't just show up and free ride on the pot luck. I explained I had no intention of doing that but, should I decide to go, I would simply pick up a couple of bags of Smartfood cheese popcorn. There followed a shocked silence and then the claim that I couldn't do that either. Why not? It just... wasn't done... She would feel horrible showing up with only a couple of bags of Smartfood. What would the other mums say?

She had to go to work and had no choice but to leave me to my own devices. At the appointed time I did just as I promised (though with admittedly some pangs which I did my best to quash) and showed up at the potluck, popcorn in hand. It was a huge hit. One teacher sidled up and thanked me quietly - with all the healthy homemade fare provided she appreciated the junk. As did the kids who quickly devoured the two bags. Oh, I got some passive aggressive comments and dirty looks but I didn't care. I felt remarkably free. The worst thing from my wife's point of view was that I got praise from a bunch of mums for even bringing that. She was outraged by the double standard. Me? I just enjoyed it.

So the lesson here, Dads? Don't be afraid of falling short of external standards. Don't be guilted into doing what is "expected". As always, make your own Pop Luck.

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