A few weeks ago I was invited to participate in a surprise birthday party for a friend. I am perpetually broke, so I suggested that we do this as a pot luck lunch rather than going out to eat. The idea was liked by the others in the group. I said that I’d bring some sort of chicken dish and then I didn’t hear boo about it until the day before.

One of the ladies was in a bit of a panic because the room reserved to hold our small event had  not been reserved. She’d been asked to jump through seventeen different hoops, which she did. But the person who’d asked her to do all that jumping hadn’t bothered to even open the email that contained all of the hoops she’d required. Then one of the ladies who’d said she would make chicken flautas was sort of “off the grid” and it seemed that things were falling apart. My panicked friend handed me a $20 bill and asked if I could pick up some red tablecloths and some salsa and rice from a popular Tex-Mex restaurant on the other side of town. I told her I would. Then she asked what I was planning to make and I told her that I had intended to make a curry chicken dish but that she and the birthday girl were so picky about food that I figured I’d just go with the Tex-Mex theme and also make
Mexican rice.

Later that night, I got a call and my friend was even crankier and more stressed. She told me that she’d finally gotten in touch with the lady who was making flautas and that someone else said that she’d make rice and that I should just “shred some lettuce and maybe buy some guacamole. Can you handle that?”

Now here’s where things got a little prickly for me. I lived in Egypt for 12 years very near my in-laws. My sister-in-law ate shrimp that I’d made Cajun style before my husband and I had even married. She didn’t like the seasoning and then immediately went around the rest of the family swearing I didn’t know how to cook. She doomed me to being the “salad maker” for the next 15 years and it just pissed me off. I’m a foodie. I LOVE to cook and try new things. My brother-in-law’s wife knows this and she used to try all sorts of new things with me and we would always eat each other’s cooking. It was always fantastic. But any large gatherings, the others in the family would tell me, “Why don’t you just make a salad.”

So, my Salad Baggage got really heavy all of a sudden when my friend, who was really just stressed out and actually trying to alleviate some of my stress by getting me out of having to cook, suggested this to me. She didn’t know about my Salad Baggage. She was actually trying to help me. But because she was stressed out with her own baggage and because she doesn’t really seem to enjoy cooking, it came out a little snarky. And then I went and tossed that snark and stress into my Salad Baggage and just tossed the hell out of it…making it a full Salad Baggage Bar.

And even though I was kind of shitty to my friend, I realized later that she wasn’t actually being snarky or mean or anything at all to me, other than considerate. I apologized to her because I realized that there was no way she could have known about my Salad Baggage and that I really should just set that stuff down. Our birthday girl friend was completely surprised, by the way. And she had a wonderful time and enjoyed all of the food and the cake and the present and cards. And I’m walking away from this entire thing having learned that I still have some growing up to do….and I need to stay the hell away from the baggage claim area.

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