the particular panic of barbecue side dishes

i don’t really think it’s entirely acceptable that amanda’s garden neighbor is currently playing guns n’ roses’s cover of “live & let die” at volumes that shake glass loose from their panes. & that before it came on, he said to me, “hi, neighbor.” no. if you must play guns n’ roses this loud, can’t it at least be “paradise city” or something? he also started blasting the radio at around 8:15am this morning…which isn’t a huge problem. i was kind of awake. but i shouldn’t be able to hear lady gaga from across the garden over the high-speed sounds of an elderly box fan.

i’m pretty happy that it’s july, even though my allergies seem to have adjusted to the different climate & indigenous philadelphia plants in order to bring on a new round of allergies. i actually only care that it’s july because this is my birthday month. apparently there’s some kind of big deal lunar eclipse on my actual birthday. astrology websites across the internet are going nuts over the angles this makes to various planets & how people born within five days of july 11 (& those of us born ON july 11, like me, e.b. white, richie sambora, & john henson, former host of “talk soup”) are going to feel the effects especially strongly. too bad astrology is a hack discipline that didn’t even get the memo that pluto isn’t really a planet. i swear to god, every month for the last five years, my horoscope has been telling me that i was poised right on the precipice of getting engaged. i am not engaged. i don’t even know if i want to be engaged, in that i have some concerns that being married would undermine my financial independence (it’s complicated & related to the government). i told jared that if he proposed to me on the big screen at a baseball game, i would shake my head sadly & admit that i was dating the guy who shoots the hot dog cannon.

i have a lot of opinions about getting married though. for example: if you are going to register for sheets, i think it’s important to register for nice sheets. this means that you shouldn’t register for jersey sheets. jersey sheets are for eighteen-year-olds about to leave for their first semester at miami university, in miami, ohio. there’s a reason why it’s a little bit challenging to find jersey sheets in anything other than “long twin” size. i am also staggered by how many otherwise intelligent, politically-engaged people use the gift registry or similar big box chain store registries. i don’t know for sure, because i’m not engaged & am not the editor-in-chief of a bridal magazine, but surely, surely, there is some kind of independent aggregate gift registry that enables you to consolidate all your registrations with independent businesses on to one handy website for far-afield friends & family to purchase gifts for you with ease & simplicity? right? & if not–someone get on that shit, because it’s an untapped market.

i also think mid-calf dresses look terrible on everyone & ought to be outlawed. it’s a one-way ticket to cankleland, & shaves about four inches off your perceived height. i am also astonished that in the year 2010, couples still go on honeymoons that involve things like cruises (which are unbelievably terrible for the environment) or tourist-y wildlife enclosures. then again, i have nothing against zoos, for the most part, which are also tourist-y wildlife enclosures. maybe i don’t know what i’m talking about. jared & i joke that if we ever get married, our honeymoon will be a train trip through scotland. warm, dry, we can read quietly, i can pretend i’m going to hogwarts, & jared can bask in the train environment. but not in a hobo way.

but what the fuck do i know about any of this? the one time i ever got married, i forgot to take off my sunglasses. clearly i have no idea what i’m doing.

a few nice philly folks have stepped up to the plate in the wake of my freak-out over not having a library card & offered to let me borrow their cards. so it looks like my last nineteen days in philadelphia will be better than i expected. there was an awkward moment this morning when amanda said, “the barbecue side dishes i suggested don’t sound like anything you want to eat, so i figured you would make some side dishes that you would like better,” & i was staggered because it never occurred to me to make any side dishes for our barbecue this afternoon. i don’t know if any of the people who are coming are vegans, vegetarians, have dairy allergies, whatever. at barbecues, i usually like to eat midwestern-style pasta salad, potato salad as long as it’s not augmented with too many weird vegetables, burgers, cheese plates, & deviled eggs. i’m a bit conflicted as to whether or not i’m an asshole for not thinking to prepare anything. we don’t have anything here to make any of those things. i could go out & stock up on ingredients, but why did this not occur to me (or to amanda to suggest it) yesterday when we were at the grocery store? i got a box of granola bars, some yogurt, a little dish of pasta salad for myself…

i have hinted before at how uncomfortable i am at food-based potluck-style events that are not under my complete control (ie, a dinner party where i am making the entree, which will almost certainly be a lasagna, my specialty). this is why. i don’t know what people like to eat, but i know most people are not impressed by my bland, midwestern palate. i am always really impressed when i’m at a party or something & someone has made goat cheese pastries with pear glaze, but it would never occur to me in a million years to make something like that myself. i’m staggered when i think to offer guests tap water. i think maybe this is a product of my childhood. my parents never had dinner parties or cocktail parties or anything similar. they occasionally had raging biker parties where guests brought their own cases of beer & maybe if it was someone’s birthday, my mom would bake a sheet cake with a harley-davidson logo on it. occasionally for family reunion-type events, someone would make a platter of deviled eggs or diabetes-friendly carob cookies (lots of diabetes in my family), but it was certainly never my responsibility to do anything more sophisticated than maybe ball a watermelon or something. i didn’t know what sangria was until sometime last year.

all right, enough fussin’ & feudin’. on with the day.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

2 thoughts on “the particular panic of barbecue side dishes

  1. I am always impressed by a bland midwestern palate, it’s the perfect canvas for hot sauce.

    I, for one, am making Rosanne Cash’s potato salad for a bbq this weekend. I don’t know why Rosanne Cash has potato salad but I’m making it.

  2. You are spot on with that jersey sheet thing. I got my first set of jersey sheets for my freshman year at Miami University of Oxford, Ohio. They’re not nice, but they are soft. Five years later, I still have a penchant for them.

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