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You know, I really don't care for Pot Luck Dinners!
Old 08-26-2010, 11:26 PM   #1
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You know, I really don't care for Pot Luck Dinners!

Especially if it's a large group, and especially if it's a weekly thing.

I don't mind if it's a small group of close friends for a special occasion - that can be really enjoyable if you somewhat coordinate the menu.

This weekly pot-luck thing is part of our retirement community. There were very few people over the summer (the very few folks left is actually why it got started), and we went to a couple. The one after Hurricane Alex was kind of fun, because we took pictures of "the survivors". We went again several weeks later, and it was OK. It was fun to visit with the few other folks because we were the only ones in our quarter of the development, and we really hadn't seen anyone else for a while. Well, until after dinner people just wanted to sit around and gab non-stop, and then we just had to excuse ourselves because we had other things to do that evening.

Then we didn't go to any more. The fact was, we were usually running errands on Friday afternoons, trying to get that last missing part so we could finish our house projects over the weekend. Or we were doing some last minute furniture shopping. Friday evening was just not convenient for us.

Now a lot more people are back, and since we are interested in talking to some of the new returnees more, I was seriously considering attending tomorrow. It has a Chinese theme, and so I thought I would make a run to the Chinese restaurant for a few servings of shrimp lo-mien, as I don't currently have Chinese in my cooking repertoire, and my kitchen is still a work in progress although pretty functional.

But about an hour ago I decided that I really don't care for pot-lucks, and that for that reason we should simply plan not to participate in the future. And if asked whether we are coming on Friday, instead of our usual "oh, we're so busy running errands" or whatever. I think we'll just have to come out of the closet and more or less say that we just really aren't into pot-luck dinners and that's why we don't participate.

I'm sure people will figure out that we are only occasional participants in the community's social activities, so no reason to act any different now just because a lot of people are back.

You know, I really enjoy socializing over good food. It's a great family tradition. But I've decided community pot-lucks don't fit that category for me.

Anyone identify? (heh, heh with all the introverts here, I expect I am not alone).

Audrey
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Old 08-27-2010, 12:22 AM   #2
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Well, it's not really the pot-luck part of it that would bother me, as much as the fact that it involves socializing with a large group of people. I guess I am just not a "party person" when it comes to big dinner parties like that. I find myself in deeper conversations when dining with no more people than you can count on one hand. And then if it's a small group like that, it's fun to meet a nice restaurant, unless someone wants to host.
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Old 08-27-2010, 12:23 AM   #3
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Last potluck I went to was about 15 years ago, great food but the neighbors just complained about petty issues. No one has organized one since.

I would avoid telling them why if I decided to decline an invitation.

What do you mean by your "retirement community"?
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Old 08-27-2010, 12:47 AM   #4
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Neighborhood pot-lucks... I don't do small talks so socializing with a large group of strangers is not my idea of fun.
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Old 08-27-2010, 01:00 AM   #5
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Pot Luck Horror Story: We went to a pot luck with a club and someone new brought a salad that she had dropped a used acupuncture needle into. (She had acupuncture needles in her as she was preparing the salad.) She fished it out and left the dish on the table for everyone else to eat.

We actually go to a fair bit of pot luck parties due to groups like scouts, school events, kids' sports parties, clubs, etc. In fact we have one this weekend.
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Old 08-27-2010, 01:15 AM   #6
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Complete agreement!! I have to go to a few now and then for school functions and such. Ugh! Not only don't I like large groups of people I don't know and inane small talk (So, what do you do for living?), but the food is always weird. You know, the spaghetti sauce tastes sweet, the scalloped potatoes have peas in them, and somebody apparently really likes garbanzo beans. Then, invariably, someone brings the plastic thingy full of chocolate chip cookies from the grocery store near your house. Yummy, stale cookies.

Sometimes they are obligatory, but I avoid scenes like that if possible. For the record I also hate Christmas parties and the like. Potlucks with decorations. Ick!
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Old 08-27-2010, 07:19 AM   #7
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Codger alert!

Why do folks have a problem with just saying no, or I'm not interested?

Life's too short to put up with BS with others who's "practices" you see as quite insane.

So it's a group of people that you happen to live nearby. That's just an accident of where you decided to live. It's not like your relatives (who you also did not have a decision) but you sometimes put up with to put on appearances of "family congeniality".

Families are bad enough; but put up with relative strangers? No thanks.

And for those that feel that they must attend or people will talk about them? I fall back on the old quote of "what people think of me is none of my business" ...
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Old 08-27-2010, 07:31 AM   #8
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I think going once in a while would be just about right as it gives you a chance to make friends with neighbors.

And I really like garbanzo beans
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Old 08-27-2010, 07:55 AM   #9
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A couple of times a year for for the potlucks would be plenty for me. No way would I want to do weekly even with people who were very like-minded. As it is, I turn down dinner invitations. I don't even like to eat out in restaurants more than once a month at dinnertime...too many calories!
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Old 08-27-2010, 08:14 AM   #10
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When I lived in my last house there was a community association and they also had gatherings every Friday . They called them TGIF which was funny because I was about the only one working . We went occasionally . It was a great way to meet neighbors and see who you would like to be more friendly with but no way was I interested in doing it every week. We never mentioned why we just attended occasionally and no one ever asked.
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Old 08-27-2010, 08:35 AM   #11
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I live in a retirement community. We have a monthly pot luck and game night on our street. We have between 60 and 70 people who participate so the group is split and assigned to three homes and all groups meet the same night. The people are different at each pot luck you attend. We draw names out of the hat to see which host house people will go to. It is a great way to catch up with what everyone is doing. The groups are usuallys around 15 to 18 in attendance. I love them! I wouldn't love them if all the participants were in the same room weekly!were all together.
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Old 08-27-2010, 08:36 AM   #12
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I like pot luck once every couple of months. Gives me a chance to show off my cheesecake, trifle and bread and butter pickles.
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:12 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by CuppaJoe View Post
Last potluck I went to was about 15 years ago, great food but the neighbors just complained about petty issues. No one has organized one since.

I would avoid telling them why if I decided to decline an invitation.

What do you mean by your "retirement community"?
We now live in a 55+ community with predominately seasonal residents, and as such it has many more organizaed social activities than your average neighborhood

And actually very few are strangers. We know the folks in our quarter of the neighborhood and enjoy talking to them, which is the reason I was even considering attending. If it were mostly strangers, I would never have given it a second thought.

Unlike many developments with a random assortment of people, this one is all RVers, with my section populated by ex-fultimers. Most of the folks still travel extensively. So we have a lot more in common with out neighbors than usual. And everyone is retired, so there are no inane "so what do you do?" questions. Well people talk about what they do all day, but it's projects and hobbies, and lots of travel stories.

So I guess I decided that in spite of all these positives, pot lucks still are just not enjoyable. We'll simply limit our community event socializing to the special occasions rather than the routine ones, and otherwise do more personal socializing with one or two couples rather than trying to visit within the larger groups. It's easy to stop by and chat around here anyway.

Oh I know we're going to get the occasional "we missed you yesterday" or "so what are you bringing to this week's pot luck?", so, if pressed, I've decided to be a little more up front about our preference to rarely attend weekly pot lucks. Now the exact, casual, inoffensive language escapes me at the moment, but I'll figure out something, and obviously I don't have to say anything unless pressed.

It seems like the folks around here participate pretty heavily in the regularly scheduled activities. Our immediate neighbors certainly do. This may have been one of the reasons some of these folks picked this community. It certainly wasn't a priority for us.

Since this is a seasonal community - winter homes - folks perhaps don't have many social contacts outside of the community. That must explain the high level of social participation around here. We, however, do have many friends in the wider area which is one of the reasons that we decided to make this area home base.

Audrey

P.S. Gosh it's nice to have this forum as a sounding board!
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:18 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by audreyh1 View Post
Now the exact, casual, inoffensive language escapes me at the moment, but I'll figure out something...
Maybe we can help. How about...

"I've never had much luck with pot."

"Pot doesn't agree with me."

"We're [insert obscure religion here] and don't participate in mystery meals."

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Old 08-27-2010, 09:18 AM   #15
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Audrey, I think some folks really like structured social activities more than spur of the moment stuff. That is what your neighbors sound like to me. Many of us oddball sorts, who have long enjoyed the spontaneous friendships that come about from shared hobbies and activities (rather than "mere" proximity) are naturally suspicious of these kinds of planned events.

Plus, I once went to a supper club thing at the behest of some friends we didn't know well--what a nightmare. And the mashed potatoes had so much horseradish in them that we hollowed out our dinner rolls and filled them with potatoes so it would look like we ate them!

I don't mind regular get togethers, but generally those groups under 10 work best. And of course our 85-100 person annual St. Pat's party is totally awesome!
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:22 AM   #16
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How about everyone just chipping in $10-15/person and having it catered by a small restaurant? To keep the costs down people could bring their own plates/silverwear etc.
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:28 AM   #17
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I would bet there are many residents who go to these events no more often than you go, Audrey (of course you wouldn't know who they were unless you turned into a regular and took attendance). In most groups (charities, social groups, whatever) there seems to be a small faithful core who really enjoy it and keep the functions going, and then the majority are probably more like you. Nice to have it available though for when you feel like touching base.
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:29 AM   #18
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When I think of pot luck dinners it reminds me of when I was a kid and the family would get together. Of course everyone would bring food but I'd always end up eating what my mom cooked. I remember trying a couple of things brought by others, grimacing and saying...'Ooooo, I don't like that!'...and would make this face.....

...I guess I got by with it because I was a kid.

Now that I'm an adult, I just say no thank you.
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:53 AM   #19
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Audrey, I think some folks really like structured social activities more than spur of the moment stuff. That is what your neighbors sound like to me. Many of us oddball sorts, who have long enjoyed the spontaneous friendships that come about from shared hobbies and activities (rather than "mere" proximity) are naturally suspicious of these kinds of planned events.

Plus, I once went to a supper club thing at the behest of some friends we didn't know well--what a nightmare. And the mashed potatoes had so much horseradish in them that we hollowed out our dinner rolls and filled them with potatoes so it would look like we ate them!

I don't mind regular get togethers, but generally those groups under 10 work best. And of course our 85-100 person annual St. Pat's party is totally awesome!
I think that is one of the reasons why I have already gotten turned off of the pot lucks. The food has just not been very inspired. Kind of just your average home cooked stuff. I eat better at my own house. I'm a bit of a foodie snob and I like my own cooking.

Now I never remember feeling this way when going over to a friends house for a meal. Not sure why the food around here has seemed so boring. I guess I just don't care for my neighbors' cooking.

I expect that if I had a bunch of gourmet chef neighbors you wouldn't be able to keep me away from community dinners.

Hmmmm - definitely can't use the "I just don't care for the food" excuse.

Audrey
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:59 AM   #20
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How about everyone just chipping in $10-15/person and having it catered by a small restaurant? To keep the costs down people could bring their own plates/silverwear etc.
Dex, I expect that it couldn't get any cheaper than it already is. People already bring their own place settings, and I expect spend quite a bit less per person than any catering.

Audrey
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