It was a cool, crisp late autumn evening in northwest Florida. We’d just stepped outside from a lovely candlelit house. We were leaving our friend Maria’s birthday party. Like other guests we’d brought a dish. Days beforehand, my boyfriend, Hunter decided he wanted to bring “the pink salad,” a dish his mom made when he was a kid. He was super excited about it. It was sweet to see how pumped he was about putting it together. The recipe included cottage cheese, raspberry jello mix, cool whip, pineapple chunks, and walnuts. I remembered enjoying a green pistachio version of something similar at neighborhood potlucks when I was a kid. I understood his nostalgia & where he was coming from.
It was pretty early in our dating relationship. I did not want to rain on his parade, to risk hurting his feelings. I knew that this dessert dish was sort of retro, likely uncouth. It would seem out of place at this party. And yet I said nothing. We brought the pink salad in a big green bowl & set it down on the candlelit artfully decorated elegant table. Later, “What IS that?” I heard another guest ask. And there it sat alone & rejected all night, untouched amongst the fruit & cheese, brie en croute, & fresh sushi. Hunter & I each quickly served ourselves some of the salad only once.
And back to the where I started. After a few hours when we stepped outside to leave, Hunter says to me “Oh! I forgot to grab our dish. Do you mind going in there & getting it?” I looked at him and raised my eyebrows in as “as if” expression. “Na huh, I am not going in there to get it. You can if you want.” A pause of silence and then smiles and an eruption. Each of us recognized that the other was thinking and feeling the exact same thing. We burst into howling laughter, crying, gut-busting laughter. We were falling over one another, holding each other up. We had always cracked each other up often, but this was a whole new level.
Yesterday we celebrated 13 years of matrimony. What did we do to commemorate our anniversary? We enjoyed that dessert after dinner at home, of course! Hunter is refreshingly honest, not afraid to say what he thinks & feels. At the time of the pink salad incident, I had not yet learned that I could be that way, too.
Later we admitted to the birthday girl that the mystery bowl was ours & recounted the story. And every.single.time we have recounted this story to other friends everyone says, “You know, I have always thought it would be fun to do a potluck where everyone brings a favorite dish from their childhood.” So by golly, when the pandemic is safely over, we are going to have that kind of party!
Note: The salad incident was a few months after going through the stress of Hurricane Ivan together, so for today’s musical accompaniment, I present to you Citizen Cope’s Hurricane Waters.