Saturday, July 30, 2011


Nothing is forever, but sometimes you come close. I’m speaking of a group my husband and I put together forty-five years ago to discuss current events. Rob and I were young then—and so were all the other couples. But Discussion Group is finally old: yet it lives on.

Now, all these years later, various couples have moved away or well . . . died. We may be the only originals left. But our kids and our friends’ kids have joined, so the group has an everlasting quality--as in Methuselah. Each month, the topic resonates with some and bores others, but about one thing we’re unanimous—we all love the potluck.

Yet there’s this about potlucks—when you bring food to someone’s house, you’re bound to forget something: a hot pot holder, a serving spoon, a sheaf of papers, an outdoor jacket. My potholder drawer is full of unfamiliar potholders, my hall closet wraps its arms around two strange jackets, and for years my best serving spoon has been missing. I keep looking for it at other people’s homes, but I think I must have left it with someone who died.

Four months ago—the last time we were hosts—a couple left a cookie sheet. It was old and rusty, ownership unknown. And frankly, I wasn’t about to make fourteen phone calls. But next morning my friend Micki called. “Yes,” I said, “I found the cookie sheet.”

She lives quite a distance, which explains why she said, “I’ll come get it in a few days. When I’m down your way. Just put it on the front porch.”

For a month and a half, along with a pot of flowers, the rusty cookie sheet hovered near our front door. Nobody ever asked, “Why do you have a cookie sheet on your front porch?” Maybe we were assumed to be a little odd.

At the next Discussion Group, I remembered to bring the cookie sheet. But the couple didn’t come.

The following month, for which the couple DID come, I forgot to put the rusty thing in my car.

At last, this month, the cookie-sheet couple moved into hosting position. Three weeks ago, Rob said, “For God’s sake, Babe, put that damn cookie sheet in your car.” So I stuck it in back, where for weeks it bumped the legs of whoever was riding with us.

Last night, at two a.m., Rob gave a final order. “Move the cookie sheet to the dashboard. Now. Or we’ll forget it again.”

I said sourly, “It’s two a.m. The spiders are out. I’ll move it in the morning.”

“You’ll forget,” he said.

“I’ll put a note over the stove.” All night the note has been hanging there, waiting to be released to the waste basket. And the cookie sheet rests peacefully in its soothing backseat home.

I swear, if I forget it tonight, I'll make a special trip and drive it back to its owner. And I don't care how far away she lives. There's a limit to how long you can play accommodating hostess to a rusty cookie sheet. .