I paid five bucks to attend the fundraiser potluck dinner. I drove into the woods of West Florida until I found a tiny chapel with mildewed aluminum siding, a recently mowed lawn, and a smattering of modest, earth-tone-colored vehicles parked out front.
I entered the itty-bitty fellowship hall. I deposited my suggested five-dollar donation into the basket. I was hugged by a woman named Margie who smelled of Chanel No. 5 and fried poultry. I was handed a paper plate.
“We’re glad you could make it, Mister Writer You,” said Margie. Then she winked. Although I’m not sure why.
The buffet was the size of a landing strip, the table’s surface was weighted with enough casseroles to compromise the foundation. You’ve never seen such a spread. And it was all organized according to category.
You had your chicken dishes—lemon chicken casserole, chicken divan, fried chicken, chicken à la King of Kings.
There were the cold salads—butter bean salad, corn salad, potato salad, pasta salad, and a host of other concoctions from your granny’s recipe-card box.
The dessert table was ridiculous. The church ladies were just showing off. Many of the desserts I'd never even heard of, and I thought I’d seen it all.
There were various exotic delights with names like cappuccino cream cake, Georgia Pawnee pecan pie, tiramisu brownies, and lemon icebox pie, otherwise known as “Baptist crack.”
There were pound cakes of every persuasion— blueberry, strawberry, chocolate, banana-mango. And, oh yeah, strawberry pretzel salad. Enough said.
There were, of course, the occasional Tupperware containers filled with store bought fare, rumored to be purchased from the Piggly Wiggly. Nobody touched this stuff. Bringing store-bought food to a covered-dish gathering is a grievous sin, and grounds for horsewhipping, punishable by mandatory nursery duty.
One poor woman brought a seven-layer Publix cake. I heard that she was later asked to resign from the Monday night women’s Bible study.
Nobody was more…