Wednesday, March 07, 2007


We're having a potluck lunch today for a colleague who is celebrating a birthday. I haven't participated in a potluck for many years, since, well, way back in my non-profit days. The first time I was at that particular non-profit, not the second time.

My contribution to today's potluck is a fruit platter: strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, bananas, oranges and pineapple. Pretty yummy stuff, if I do say so myself.

But on the way in to work I was thinking about potluck and the tradition of it and how great it is when people actually contribute. We had potlucks go awry at the non-profit and once had a meal where all that was available was chips, soda and desserts. Not that anyone complained at the time, but productivity was severely hampered that afternoon due to all the upset tummies. After that we had to divide up the dishes by departments: Development brought meat, Marketing brought salads, Accounting brought dessert, etc.

At my first real job at the now-defunct ad agency (I likes to get my digs in when I can, hence the attribute "now-defunct"...bastards), we had a potluck once and everyone brought the traditional casserole dishes and desserts and such, except for two of the creatives. They were the super-smarty-pants guys who had created the Budweiser frogs and other legendary ads, and they, in their infinite wisdom, brought sacks of White Castle (it was the days before the Crave Case) and Taco Bell tacos (it was the days before rat-infestation at the Bell). A few of the stodgy geezers crabbed that those items weren't traditional potluck fare, but let me tell you, they were the first things gone off that table. I've always been tempted to do that, but don't quite have the cajones. Which is probably why I'm not a millionaire creative like those two are.

M's old company had a big company picnic every year where the company provided the meat and the beer, and everyone else brought a side dish. We stuck with cookies every year, because everyone loves cookies and they were relatively easy to do, especially when making them involved stopping at the grocery on the way to the picnic. M is a big proponent of bringing home-made items to the potluck, whereas I'm a big proponent of not adding one more thing to do to my already-loaded plate. We compromise, and sometimes we take store-bought stuff and sometimes we make something. Just depends on what we've got going at the time.

I looked up potluck, trying to figure out the etymology (or is it is the study of bugs and the other is the origin of words, but I get them confused all the time...which means I really should just look them up, too), because that intrigues me. Although potluck shouldn't be too hard to figure out, really. I mean, pot-luck. You're lucky to get whatever is in the pot, right? Something like that, maybe.

Here's the Webster definition:
Originating in 1592, potluck means
1 a: the regular meal available to a guest for whom no special preparations have been made (which would fit in nicely with my store-bought special preparations there!)
1 b: a communal meal to which people bring food to share - usually used attributively (a potluck supper)
2: whatever is offered or available in given circumstances or at a given time

I looked then in the on-line etymology dictionary and found this:
from pot+luck, with notion of "one's chance or luck as to what may be in the pot."

So, really, I was correct and it wasn't too difficult to figure it out, although strictly speaking the way the non-profit potlucks went they shouldn't have really been called potlucks if you're going to parcel out what everyone can bring. Kinda takes away from the chance of it all that way.

Yes, I know. I'm a dork and this is really boring.

Sorry folks, but it's all I got today.


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