Guest in Jest #87 Being Aunt Debbie

This week’s guest is Being Aunt Debbie

“Aurora”

 

Have you ever felt like a total dweeb because of your phone? Or some other electronic device? Perhaps you have an app that drives you nuts or makes you feel stupid?

I had an appointment yesterday and when it was over it was after 1 pm and Dad and I were famished. We were headed to a restaurant we had never eaten at before. I would have Googled it ahead of time, but my therapist had recommended it as my appointment was ending. It was called Texas Roadhouse.

I brought it up on Google maps on my phone and pressed “start” to activate Google’s voice assistance, whom I call “Aurora.” This voice doesn’t have a name at all, unlike Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa. She’s known only as Assistant. She has no identity. How sad is that? Anyway, I named her “Aurora.” By the end of this search for the restaurant, I was ready to punch “Aurora” in the face!

I proceeded as directed by “Aurora.” Now the exact instructions she gave may be off, but you’ll get the gist.

“Continue on US 160 and take the MO-13 S exit.” 

Done. Easy enough.

“Proceed to left turn lane and turn left onto S. Campbell Ave.”

Done. Ok. This isn’t too difficult. Yay!

“Make a U-turn at El Camino Alto.”

Crap. A U-turn? Why didn’t we just get off the freeway further down, I wondered. Then we wouldn’t have to worry about a U-turn. Ok. U-turn made.

“In 600 feet, turn right onto W. Cardinal.”

Wait. What? What street? Didn’t see any street called Cardinal. Obviously, I missed it.

“Make a U-turn at Republic Road.” What she really meant was, “Now you have to turn around and try again dummy.”

Ok. Aurora is directing me to turn around. Let’s try this again. Ok, back to the U-turn at El Camino Alto.

“In 600 feet, turn right onto W. Cardinal.” What she really meant was, “Let’s try this again, dumb ass.”

Crap. Where’s the road? There it is but I’m in the wrong lane. Too much traffic. Missed it again.

“Make a U-turn at Republic Road.” What she really meant was, “Are you freaking stupid? You missed it again!”

Here we go again. Got it. Back to that U-turn at El Camino Alto.

“In 600 feet, turn right onto W. Cardinal.” What she really meant was, “Don’t miss it this time you idiot!”

Yeah, yeah. Got it this time. CRAP. Argh!! This road is the freeway! Grrr…… What the heck is going on? Now that I’m back on the freeway, we see the sign for the restaurant. Ok. Now I have an idea where it is, maybe I can find it without “Aurora.” Tried my best to get over there, still kept getting in the wrong place. At this point, “Aurora” is telling to go here or go there, but I am ignoring her. I can hear her screaming at me, “ARE YOU DEAF? You gigantic dweeb!” Of course, she’s not really screaming at me or calling me names, but boy howdy, I bet she was thinking it!

I finally ended up back on the original road and U-turn. Let’s try this again. Before we got to the U-turn, we noticed there IS a road that we missed, but in our defense, it actually looked like a driveway to the Subway located there and the road sign was hard to see.

Ah-ha!!! Made the U-turn, made that right hand turn onto W. Cardinal and we were on our way. Good thing, because we were starving!! There’s the restaurant!! Yay! Pulled up and parked. We wondered why there were no cars in the lot…. Then we read the sign. Dammit! It’s one of those places that open only for dinner: 4 pm to 10 pm. Seriously? It was only 2 pm! Crap. All that work for nothing.

We were just going to go back to the area of town we were familiar with to find a place to eat when we noticed FD’s Grillhouse not too far from the Texas Roadhouse. Sounds like a plan!! It was actually open! Yay!

We both decided on a shrimp platter, mine with batter-fried shrimp and Dad’s with grilled shrimp. We both got a baked potato. I had cole slaw and Dad had broccoli. I was so parched I drank 3 glasses of iced tea! Dad had his Merlot. I hate wine. It stinks and tastes awful. I almost had a beer, but I was too thirsty.

When our meal came, it was just in the nick of time! I think my stomach was ready to eat itself. The food was great! The baked potato could have been much hotter but the shrimp was delicious!

I’m glad “Aurora” was no longer ‘with’ us. I don’t think I could stand her judgmental little thoughts (imagined by only me) throughout lunch. Whew! What a day!

Guest in Jest and Weekly Request #87

Please join us tomorrow…

This week’s  “Guest in Jest” guest is:  Being Aunt Debbie

 

Now it is time for my shameless begging.  

Join us in our Guest of Jest series

 

Please submit your guest posts to mainepaperpusher@yahoo.com and they will be published in order of submission every Friday here at Everyone Else Has the Best Titles

 

Here are the rules:

Give us some info about your blog.  Make sure to add a link to it.

Write up something amusing.  It doesn’t have to be “laugh out loud” funny, but a bit of humor would be great.

Pictures optional, but encouraged.

The post can be one that has been posted before.

Multiple submissions are encouraged!

The piece can be anything that is humorous.  A story, a recollection, even something as simple as a joke.

 

C’mon, you know you want to!  Why should we have all the fun?

Guest in Jest #86 Fixin’ Leaks and Leeks

This week’s guest is Fixin’ Leaks and Leeks

Bowl Like Everyone is Watching

 

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Bowling lane at Lucky Strike in Bellevue, Washington

When bowling teams cry out in desperation, “Help! We’re winning too many points! Who will save us?”—I know just what to do. Bowling like a wild tornado that rips through gutters and puts a hole in the floor is my superpower. But I’ve not used my powers often enough and I’ve felt this gnawing feeling—like I shouldn’t just let myself “get soft”—not when there are so many points I can help other bowlers lose. This feeling grew particularly strong when I saw the wild, wild neon lights of the Lucky Strike bowling alley in Bellevue on my 47th birthday this weekend. I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to walk into the place and shout loudly above the disco music: “Everyone, settle down! It’s okay! I’m here to roll gutter balls, so relax! I’ve got you!” Of course, it was super cool to walk in there flanked by my superhero bowling team (Nate and Alex). On their birthdays, they like to come to the Bellevue Square Mall too, but they never suggest Lucky Strike bowling. I, on the other hand, mention it all of the time:

Me: Oooh! That bowling alley looks sooo cool! How about we go there sometime—for my birthday? We’re doing it—we’re totally doing it!

Nate: It’s bowling. I’m pretty sure we’ve been bowling before.

Me: Not like that. Lucky Strike is like celebrity, high rolling bowling—with funky music—and I bet people just start dancing. I’ll bet I just start dancing—and they serve drinks—in case I start dancing and you need to pretend to be drinking something.

Nate: Is that really what you want to do for your birthday?

Me: Yes, yes yes!!!

So, on Saturday, we were finally doing it. We were walking straight through the Lucky Strike doors—and my “personal theme song,” “I Got a Feelin’” by the Black Eyed Peas— echoed in my brain.  Nate, Alex, and I paid for two games because well, we didn’t want to overdo it or anything.

Now, I don’t want to brag, but I did take extensive bowling lessons for a combined eight weeks total during high school gym class my freshman and sophomore years. I learned the rules and actually tried to be a good bowler and sometimes, I think I made progress. On Saturday, all of that progress landed me a few strikes and spares, but mostly gutter balls and I think a lot of the gutter balls had to do with my “approach,” which consisted of the following steps:

1) Pick up a 10 lb. ball, even though a 5 lb. ball is probably all I could handle.

2) Swing the ball upward, so that it’s level in front of my chest and then pose and look serious.

3) Do a combination skip/waddle up to the line and swing the ball back, realizing it’s really really heavy, and hoping it doesn’t slip out of my hands because the finger holes are incredibly big as well.

4) Listen for the “cracking” sound as it hits the floor.

5) Cheer wildly when the ball veers completely off course and into the gutters—cheering because at least the ball didn’t bounce out of the lane and into someone else’s beer.

It wasn’t until the day after bowling, when I woke up with an aching wrist and shoulder, that I thought to ask myself, “What could I have done better?” So, I performed a highly technical key word search in Google that contained the following words: how to bowl. Amazingly, when I went about three or four pages beyond the first page of results, I found “Bowl.com,” which is the official website for the United States Bowling Congress (USBC). The USBC is the national governing body of bowling and the keeper of standardized rules and regulations.

On the website, I found an article about the “approach” for rolling a bowling ball. This article contains highly encouraging advice, such as the following: “It’s as easy as 1-2-3-4, just like walking down the street.” Except, instead of the street, you’re on a slick bowling alley lane and there’s a very heavy ball in your hand. Also, your fingers feel greasy and you swear they are beginning to itch as well, so you have to gently remind yourself not to rub your eyes or stick your fingers in your mouth.

In any case, there are some useful steps in this article, which I’ve summarized here for your convenience:

1) Find the “perfect” distance from which to start the approach. I think it would be fun to start out in the parking lot and come tearing through the place shouting, “Move!” However, the USBC probably has rules against such a thing—for many, many good reasons. Instead, you’re supposed to walk up to the line (without the bowling ball), turn around, and take four ½ normal steps back towards the drink menu on the table.

2) Get into the stance. When I first came across this step on the USBC website, I was left to my own imagination. Once I stopped laughing, I realized there was an illustration near the bottom of the page. Here’s the link—just remember to scroll down when you get to the second step. (Bowl.com: The Approach)

3) Walk and swing the ball at the same time. Don’t even try to imagine this move. There are illustrations on the USBC website, thank goodness. Just remember to scroll down.)

4) Do the “slide.” It’s this little “kicky” thing at the end and Nate can do it really well. I’d say that’s his super power. When I saw him bowl yesterday, I said, “Ooh, honey! Swing it! Swing that back leg! Whoo!” He never reacted to my antics though, probably because his “personal theme music” was echoing too loudly in his head. However, I wish I had gotten a picture, so I tried to get him to demonstrate his bowling moves this morning so that I could post an extremely helpful picture to readers of this blog. Here’s how that went:

Me: Hey, Nate. Can you pretend like you’re bowling? I need to get a picture of that back leg swing thing you do.

Nate: I’m busy.

Me: Come on, please?

Nate: I’m busy planning our vacation to Hawaii.

Me: Perfect! The islands of Hawaii desperately need good bowlers. Nate? Nate—are you listening? Nate?

But he never answered me—probably because his personal theme song (Wheezer’s “Island in the Sun”)—was just too darn loud. So, I was forced to draw a picture. As you can clearly see, the leg swings back—just like walking down the street:

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Very crude drawing, in red ink, of a stick figure rolling a bowling ball down a lane. The right foot is attempting to swing back.  Drawing by Cecilia Kennedy

 

Your Turn: Do you have any bowling tips? Or: If you had your own theme song—something that just started playing any time you entered a room—what would it be?

Guest in Jest and Weekly Request #86

Please join us tomorrow…

This week’s  “Guest in Jest” guest is:  Fixin’ Leaks and Leeks

 

Now it is time for my shameless begging.  

Join us in our Guest of Jest series

 

Please submit your guest posts to mainepaperpusher@yahoo.com and they will be published in order of submission every Friday here at Everyone Else Has the Best Titles

 

Here are the rules:

Give us some info about your blog.  Make sure to add a link to it.

Write up something amusing.  It doesn’t have to be “laugh out loud” funny, but a bit of humor would be great.

Pictures optional, but encouraged.

The post can be one that has been posted before.

Multiple submissions are encouraged!

The piece can be anything that is humorous.  A story, a recollection, even something as simple as a joke.

 

C’mon, you know you want to!  Why should we have all the fun?

Guest in Jest #85 The Arty Plantsman

This week’s guest is The Arty Plantsman

First Impressions of Rome.

 

I like flying. Genuinely. Waiting around in lines at airports is a pain but the actual flights are fun!

 

One of my earliest international flights was from Manchester UK to Nurmberg in Germany, involving a change at Hamburg. My dithering boss was with me and he had never flown before. It was only a two day trip so I only took hand luggage. My boss brought a huge case, kept no spare clothes in his hand luggage and, of course, his case went astray during the changeover at Hamburg.. As a result of this experience I try to book direct flights whenever I can. And travel alone.

However. On a subsequent trip I was to fly to Bari in Italy. There were no direct flights so I had to change at Rome.

In theory, there was a 90 minute window to meet the connection. However, my plane into Rome arrived an hour late. We filed anxiously off the plane, onto a bus and over to the terminal where we were told that the few Bari passengers would be assisted on to their connecting flight at a distant gate. An airline employee, a delightful Italian lady, arrived with one of those electric buggies with a trailer on the back, onto which we all piled.

She took off like a bat out of hell across a busy Rome airport and was taking no prisoners. It was like a scene from a slapstick movie. Groups of nuns were scattering at our approach and our driver was beeping the horn, flashing the lights and shouting and gesticulating like crazy.

I would swear at one point we went through a barn and emerged in a cloud of squawking chickens, with the Keystone cops on our tail.

We made it to the far end of the terminal to our gate just in time. Thanking the lady profusely we then shakily walked out to the bus on the tarmac to take us to our plane.

Can you guess what happened next?

The bus drove right back round the outside of the terminal to the plane parked right next to the one we alighted from 20 minutes earlier!

Disbelievingly we started walking up the steps onto the plane. Having been worried about my luggage making the connection my fears were eased when, from the steps, I saw a baggage handler take MY suitcase from the UK plane, look at the tags, shrug, and then walk over and throw it into the hold of the plane I was getting on to!

Guest in Jest #84 3C Style and Lismore Paper

This week’s guests in Jest are 3C Style and LISMORE PAPER

Nightmare at the House of Style

I have to get away from the House of Style.
3C Style is an ok person, I guess. Ever since she picked me up from Linda and Bill’s home, I’ve been eating well and sleeping whenever I wanted. The best part about my holidays at Dominique’s place are the chew toys. Boy, are they ever chewable! Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin shoes – everything I’ve ever wanted to chew on is now just a bark or two away.

 
Have you ever experienced those gut feelings that you can’t shake even when everything is going perfectly? That’s just the sense I’m getting right now. And you should trust me – I’m a dog. I have waaay better senses than you.

 
My feelings have manifested themselves into some of the most horrendous nightmares you’d ever want described to you. My goodness, not even the Blinky the Cat chew toy is worth this kind of mental agony.

I just have to compose myself a bit. Ok. This is hard for me to say, so be patient with me.

 
I feel like 3C Style is fattening me up.

 
She’s fattening me up, I tell you.

 
Do I think she eats dog? No, no, nothing like that. But you see – she’s preparing a line of plus size clothing and I’ve seen some of the ads. All of them feature pets. Pets that have been dressed up against their will. Incorrigible vests.  Droopy earrings that make all of us look like Snoopy from Charlie Brown. Holiday sweaters that clash with fur colors. Insane nonsense!

 
It’s humiliating, I tell you. You should see the expressions of these model dogs. And trust me – I’m a dog.  I’m waay better at picking up subtle social cues than you.

 
I had a dream that I was getting fattened up to fit some of these “clothes.”

 
I was minding my own business one day. I’m taking 3C Style my leash for my morning walk, but she has another idea. She takes me into her bathroom and motions to me to step on the scale. I’m a smart dog, so I do it. Her face lights up.

 
“Oh! This is wonderful! Walter, I think you’re finally there.”

 
She leads me into a place in the house that I’ve never really been before – the hidden closets in the back corner of the master bedroom. They’re huge walk-in things. And before you know it, I’m LOCKED IN. I look around. This isn’t a closet with human clothes.

 
The sweaters have four holes! The earrings are shaped like dog bones! The vests are cut for someone…or some DOG…with a canine spine! And all of these clothes are horrendously out of season! And then I saw it. An ad of me dressed-up with weird bling bling accessories. I can’t stand it. And I won’t stay here!

 
See for yourself…

Walter Playing Dressup.jpg

 

 

I wake up every morning now in a cold sweat. The good part about it is that 3C Style has been mentioning to Linda that I look sick and am losing weight. Linda is coming to get me back home tomorrow.

 
Losing weight. Well, if it keeps me out of that closet in the back room of the House of Style…

 

 
Note: We assure you that no harm was done to Walter.  The accessories were put on him digitally.

 

Text by Dominique Nancy, 3C Style, and artwork by Lisa Lawrence, Lismore Paper

Guest in Jest and Weekly Request #84

Please join us tomorrow…

This week’s  “Guest in Jest” guests are:  3C Style and LISMORE PAPER

 

Now it is time for my shameless begging.  

Join us in our Guest of Jest series

 

Please submit your guest posts to mainepaperpusher@yahoo.com and they will be published in order of submission every Friday here at Everyone Else Has the Best Titles

 

Here are the rules:

Give us some info about your blog.  Make sure to add a link to it.

Write up something amusing.  It doesn’t have to be “laugh out loud” funny, but a bit of humor would be great.

Pictures optional, but encouraged.

The post can be one that has been posted before.

Multiple submissions are encouraged!

The piece can be anything that is humorous.  A story, a recollection, even something as simple as a joke.

 

C’mon, you know you want to!  Why should we have all the fun?

Guest in Jest #83 Being Aunt Debbie

This Week’s Guest is Being Aunt Debbie

Shit My Dad Says

 

I had been struggling to find something to blog about and then it hit me! Dad is a pretty funny guy, always has been. For the last couple of years, I have been posting his funnies on Facebook with the hashtag #ShitMyDadSays. He wasn’t too happy when I told him tonight about those posts. Uh oh. Well, he’s 80. He will forget by tomorrow. He forgets a lot these days.

While this post may not be suitable for all audiences, it’s still pretty funny. If you have a stick up your butt or you just don’t have a sense of humor, then just don’t read past this paragraph. You were warned.

*”I use to be a rebel-rouser, until I got shot.”

*When he and my son were up on the roof doing some repair work, Dad was attacked and stung by a wasp. This happened to him 2 weeks prior, so when it happened this time he came in and said, “I just got attacked by that same wasp!” “The same one?” I asked. He said in all seriousness, “Looked like the same one to me!” Half of his face was swollen and the next day he looked like Droopy, the old cartoon dog.

*Myrbetriq commercial comes on. The animated woman’s bladder is PINK so Dad informs me that men have a BLUE bladder! Lmao! Always the funny guy!

*Dad just asked me, “Do you know why I can never find anything?” I said, “Why?” He said, “Because I don’t know where anything is.” Lol.

*Goodness…. Watching Y&R with Dad. (Yeah, Dad watches the soaps!) A couple is wanting to adopt a child and are told of a teen mother in her 3rd trimester. Dad says, “That’s just asking for trouble. Why don’t they adopt a baby?” (In my head: wtf did he just say?) I said, “Dad, they are. They’re going to adopt the teen’s baby!” “Oh,” he said. He actually thought they were going to adopt the teenager?! Lol.

*Omg. Lol. Convo between me and Dad:
Me: Did we know that Sean Austin was Patty Duke’s son?
Dad: I think we knew that.
Me: Who is Sean’s dad?
Dad: Marmaduke?
Can’t ever be serious around here!

*To my daughter, I asked, “Do you remember that time your Grampa was talking about his handle bars when he actually meant love handles???” He still calls them handle bars! Lol!

*Watching the news and trying to stay cool. Dad takes a drink of his water and says, “This water is wet.” I said, “That’s odd. Mine’s not.” He says, “You must have Canadian Dry Water.” Lol.

*Hahaha! Dad was just talking about a restaurant he went to in TX with my Aunt Bobbie a long time ago where the waitress sat down in the booth and started chatting like she knew them. What’s funny is that Dad said the name of the restaurant was the “Outhouse!” Lmao! I said, you mean “Outback” don’t you? He said, “Yes!”

*Had to go to town for groceries today. It’s so hot and humid. It was nice and cool in the car. Looked in the mirror before I stepped out of the car, and said “My hair is flat already. I guess I can’t be beautiful every day.” Dad and I both chuckled a little and then he says, “Only one day a year to find a man.” WHAT????? I just walked into the store scratching my head.

*Definitely feeling old. I read this (below) to Dad and he said, “I don’t remember any of that.” Lol.

13700094_1282259178458883_8720781119795491287_n

*Dad’s watching DNC and out of the blue he says, “Eat shit and bark at the moon! That’s what I always say!” My crazy world. Lol.

*Yesterday I don’t think it hit 30 degrees all day. Today it hit 40. I feel colder today than I did yesterday. Dad agreed…..and then added, “Maybe we have reverse osmosis.” Never a dull moment, I swear. Lol.

*Me complaining this morning: “I don’t know what’s worse; hot flashes or the freakin’ stray hairs growing out of my face!” Dad’s response: “You could always join the circus.” Thanks, Dad. Lol.

*That moment when your father says, “I know one thing….I’m not getting one of those transvaginal implants no matter how much money they’re paying.” (He’s referring to the law suit commercials and of course just being silly.)

*Checking out in Walmart today, the checker accidentally knocked a large box of canned cat food onto the floor, landing on Dad’s foot. She was so worried and felt so horrible, saying “Are you ok? Are you ok?” Dad says, “I’m ok. It landed on my big toe that’s not there!” Lmao! Checker says, “Are you serious?” Dad says, “Yes. It landed where my toe would have been, had it been there.” We all got a good chuckle out of it. (For those who don’t know, Dad has 2 missing toes on one foot….shot gun accident years ago.)

*TWD & popcorn night. Trying to explain to Dad that even though the bowl is bigger, it’s the same amount of popcorn I make him every Sunday. “But it’s a bigger bowl,” he keeps saying. Silly man.

*Dad says, “I’m going to be a cat when I grow up.” Lol.

*Coming up a hill on the way home today, had to hit the brakes for 3 people crossing the road on horseback. After they crossed I waved and continued on my way. Dad, in all his silliness says, “I didn’t know they still made horses.” Lol. He’s always throwing stuff like that at me and it cracks me up every. time. 

*After slowly getting up out of my chair, I told Dad I was tired of trying to get around like a normal human being. Dad said, “Maybe we should just cut off your legs.” I said, “I would probably get around better.” Dad said, “You’d be a bit shorter but…..” Lmao! Leave it to Dad.

*After a few groans, Dad says, “I thought you were suppose to be dead before rigor mortis sets in.” Good grief. The things that come out of his mouth. Lol

*So, Dad and I are watching AGT and talking about how Simon Cowell is better than Pierce Morgan and Howard Stern. Dad said with more than a little disgust, “Oh yeah. That Stern guy has been a dick all his life and all of mine too.” Lmao! 

 

So, that just about sums up my life with Dad. He keeps me on my toes. Sometimes, when we go to Walmart, any Walmart, he will ask me, “Have I been here before?” I keep telling him, “One of these days you’re going to be serious and I won’t know the difference.” He’s so funny and my best friend. I don’t know what I would do without him.

Thanks for reading. I hope you got a good chuckle!

Guest in Jest and Weekly Request #83

Please join us tomorrow…

This week’s  “Guest in Jest” guest is: Being Aunt Debbie

 

Now it is time for my shameless begging.  

Join us in our Guest of Jest series

 

Please submit your guest posts to mainepaperpusher@yahoo.com and they will be published in order of submission every Friday here at Everyone Else Has the Best Titles

 

Here are the rules:

Give us some info about your blog.  Make sure to add a link to it.

Write up something amusing.  It doesn’t have to be “laugh out loud” funny, but a bit of humor would be great.

Pictures optional, but encouraged.

The post can be one that has been posted before.

Multiple submissions are encouraged!

The piece can be anything that is humorous.  A story, a recollection, even something as simple as a joke.

 

C’mon, you know you want to!  Why should we have all the fun?

Guest in Jest #82 Fixin’ Leaks and Leeks

This week’s guest is  Fixin’ Leaks and Leeks

 

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Bow tie pasta dish casserole. Photo by Cecilia Kennedy

Pizza Pasta Panic is a chaotic, yet tasty blend of bow-tie pasta elegance and pepperoni pizza. It also perfectly describes my state of mind when I was making this casserole: Confused. Very confused, but determined because I signed up to bring a pasta dish to a swim team pre-meet potluck, which is very, very intimidating. It’s intimidating because I don’t want to embarrass Alex with the food I make. I don’t want him to say, “Mom, my friends said, ‘Dude, your mom makes weird stuff.’” In fact, if I serve consistently weird or tasteless dishes, will potluck organizers be able to program Sign Up Genius so that it “malfunctions” and sends out alarms when I attempt to sign up? I actually wonder about these things. Here’s the fantastic news though: “Miles” (whose name I’ve changed here), on Alex’s swim team, tasted Pizza Pasta Panic and said, “It’s good.” Alex also said it was “good” and “spicy.”

To sum up so far, then: There are exactly two reviews of this dish, and, drawing creatively from those reviews, this is how I’ll advertise my casserole on the Internet: For a good and spicy time at a swim meet potluck, dive into some Pizza Pasta Panic.

However, winning over two swimmers at a potluck does not easily “happen” overnight. It takes about a week’s worth of careful consideration and planning.

“Someone already signed up for macaroni and cheese!” I told Nate early on in the week. “Macaroni and cheese! That’s like. . . the best thing in the world! The absolute best! And it’s rude to copycat. That’s the unspoken rule about potlucks. You can’t copycat on purpose.”

“I don’t know—just make something easy—like lasagna.”

“Lasagna isn’t easy. At least, it’s not easy for me.”

“I . . . I don’t know how to help you,” Nate said.

“It’s okay, honey. It’s okay. I’ll handle this for the both of us. Just leave it to me.”

At one point, I thought I’d just empty a box of boiled penne into a 9 X 13 pan, cover it in spaghetti sauce from a jar and heat it all up with cheese, but where’s the love in that? Where is the love? No. I’ve contributed nothing to the team so far. Nothing. I’ve not volunteered to time or count laps or pass out snacks. I needed to mess up my kitchen and show some love. So, I started to look at some recipes online and the pizza/pasta mash-up is not new. Lots of people cook pasta in 9 X 13 pans with pepperoni and either some version of Italian sausage or just ground beef. After looking over a few recipes, I told myself, “I got this. I’m going in.”

To get really creative, I decided I’d use a pasta shape that people just tend to overlook at potlucks: the bow tie. My son is on the men’s high school swim and dive team after all. What better way is there to remind these swimmers of the gentlemen they are than to have them eat bow tie-shaped pasta? Beneath the tough exterior of these Speedo-clad competitors beat the hearts of young men who convene in the hot tub after practice and discuss politics. So, let them eat bow ties—and wear some pants. (Alex, please remember pants when walking back to the car after practice.)

I decided then that bow tie pasta would be my “base.” However, I did cheat a little bit by buying the “traditional” marinara style Barilla pasta sauce because making and canning my own sauce, an hour before the potluck, just wasn’t going to happen. Now, here is where the love came in: I heated up a pound of ground beef with chopped garlic, diced red and green bell peppers, some onion, a little bit of sea salt, and just a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. Then, I just started layering everything—like a mad woman because I was running out of time: sauce, pasta, beef, pepperoni, cheese; sauce, pasta, beef, pepperoni—lots and lots of cheese. But I lost count of my layers and I can’t remember if I doubled a layer of pasta and cheese and forgot the sauce, or if I just dumped a bunch of sauce over some cheese at some point. In any case, I threw the whole thing in the oven at 450 for 20 minutes, pulled it out, and shouted, “Drive, Nate! Drive! It must get there hot!” There was no time to even taste it. It just had to get there.

Meanwhile, I started on the meal Nate and I were going to eat for dinner because parents weren’t really “encouraged” to eat at the potluck. It was for the swimmers/divers and coaches, really, but I suspect some parents may have snuck a bite or two. Finally, when Alex came home, I pounced on him with questions:

“How was it? Did you have fun? What did you eat? Tell me everything.”

“I had fun, but I can’t remember everything, but I liked the thing you made—and Miles said it was good, too.”

“That’s great!”

“Oh—and the macaroni and cheese was awesome.”

“Yes, I’m sure it was.”

“There was also this shrimp soup, too. It was really good.”

“Since when did you start eating shrimp? I could be making delicious shrimp dishes and you’d eat them? I could have been buying shrimp this entire time?”

“Yeah—I think I like shrimp now.”

“Was it a curry based shrimp soup? Did it have coconut in it?”

“I don’t know. Dad . . . please help me.”

Nate, who was trying not to laugh, reminded me that it was late and that Alex had a meet the next day.

“But did anyone get sick?” I finally asked.

“No. Everyone’s fine,” Alex said.

And that’s the important thing. No one that I know of so far got sick from the Pizza Pasta Panic. Oh—and “Miles” from the high school swim team says it’s “good.” Blessings and hugs to “Miles.”

Your Turn: What’s your go-to dish for a potluck?