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Nash, Edith / Practice the here and now: selected writings of Edith Nash

Nash, Edith
The potluck,   pp. 53-54

Page 53

The Potluck
 The Master of Ceremonies at the memorial event invited everyone to the house
and they all came. I recalled the deceased saying, "You do not get a figure
like mine by trifling with food or drink."
 First: raw meat brought by the neighborhood hunter — a woman who prowls
the yards at night with her gun to destroy her garden enemies: rabbits, raccoons,
ground hogs, or squirrels. The carefully chopped meat was piled in the middle
of the platter, surrounded by little excremental piles of onion, capers,
anchovies, and red and green peppers.
 Next, our smoothest friends brought liver pate chopped by machine to a creamy
paste. Their faces, both man and wife, were made up for television, since
they are always being seen. They said soft, unctuous things to me and my
two daughters, the bereaved. I was wearing a new green wool dress, my daughters
in dance tights, draped with Native American jewelry, in honor of their father,
the Great White Father.
 The green salad was beautiful, composed by one who had already seen her
salad days. A daughter said, "This is not a bunch of hot dishes; this is
real food." Sometimes one daughter writes restaurant reviews for a weekly
 The WASPS nested on the porch with gin, whiskey, and rum, while the preacher's
family looked for cranberry punch, the color of blood.
 "You don't sit shiva any more, do you?" I never did, but wish I had:
 .Only the mourner initiates all mention of the departed, sits on a low stool,
has food brought to her, does no work. All the members of the community hold
her and her children in their loving suspension.
 No chatter, no distraction, no chirping — just a short visit.
 A shifty person brought a jello ring; a chocoholic brought chocolate brownies;
the flatulent brought beans; the couple with new and ill-fitting dentures
brought pasta salad al dente.
 Everyone chirped like birds, sashayed like ducks, were

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