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Al Batt: It’s my good luck to have had a life full of good potlucks

Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt


My mirror reflects poorly on me.

It’s showing the image from my driver’s license.

The looking-glass gets worse every day. It magnifies the pillow tracks on the face it supposedly mirrors. I’ve been meaning to fix it. I’ve put it on my list. Bathroom repairs are sorely needed, but I’m waiting for inspiration to sink in.

You’ve been holed up like Butch and Sundance or Humphrey Bogart so long you’re hoping for time off for good behavior. You’ve advanced to the point where you’re able to remember passwords for nearly a day. Your brother-in-law has given up hoarding toilet paper for more challenging endeavors like hoarding bidets, wading pools and exercise bikes. Sure, you’ve taken the trash out on the wrong day, but that’s OK, because you’ve learned a foreign language, worked a Rubik’s Cube in record time, read “War and Peace” twice, finished the internet and learned how to ride a unicycle. Or have you spent all your time trying to teach your new puppy how to catch popcorn?

What have you learned about yourself while sequestered? The new puppy crushed your dreams of ever becoming a professional dog trainer. The popcorn keeps hitting him on the top of his head. You’ve lost battles and the war against dandelions. You’ve discovered you’re not a good listener when you talk to yourself. Not being able to wait until it’s your turn to talk takes the fun out of listening. Maintaining an interest in cat videos isn’t easy. You have Netflix, but wish there were drive-in movies nearby.

If you’ve already watched a replay of every game in every sport ever played and you’re weary of watching TV programs where everyone tries to talk louder than everyone else, why not work on a method of keeping the area between your toes clean before you start wearing shoes again? The space between the toes is called the toe webspace. Toe jam is a common term used to describe the gunk that collects there and accumulates like the stuff in the attic or the closet that presents a challenge whenever it’s opened. I call the matter nestled between my toes my mobile garden. Sometimes my ears collect enough dirt to grow potatoes. I reckon I could grow turnips between my toes. The first toe, also known as the hallux (big toe, great toe, thumb toe); the second toe (long toe, pointer toe, index toe); the third toe, (middle toe, long toe); the fourth toe, (fore toe); and the fifth toe (baby toe, little toe, pinky toe, small toe, tiny toe, wee toe). I’ve stubbed them all so as not to show any preferential treatment. The fourth toe doesn’t have many names. I’m trying to think up one. So far, Moe is all I’ve come up with. I’m training Moe to come when I call. If you have the inclination, this is an opportune time to name all your toes. Just remember, Moe is taken.

My mother said, “Allen can amuse himself for hours.” She’d toss me a couple of pots and pans, and knew I’d be happily occupied. I tried doing that recently. I’m not sure what it was I’d found thrilling about aged cookware on the floor.

I miss people. I miss happenings too. I miss potlucks. I’m a bit giddy at the mere thought of one. A potluck is a beacon in a storm.

People seldom think alike until it comes to bringing a dish to potluck. It’s a smorgasbord of bean casseroles, Jell-O salads and dessert bars. At a bring-a-plate it becomes evident that each moment is bound by chance and choice. Some foods are disguised. “Are those pearl onions in the Jell-O?” You can’t show up with just a fork, but you can bring only a box of raisins. This shows everyone else that you’re much too busy to cook. You’re even busier than the people who bring only potato chips or paper plates.

When I feel as if I’m the last turtle in a turtle race or in need of some serious training wheels as I sag into my shoes after the news has battered me high and low, I perk up when I realize life has to win every day. I’m well as long as I’m not falling down one. Moe the toe and I are going to have a swell day.

Some folks brought their best grub to every potluck. That made for a good potluck. Potluck and life give you what you bring to them.

Live long and prosper.

Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday.

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