What do you do when you are 20 years of age, a male and working in an office where you are the only one of your gender? Add to the question the fact that it is the office potluck this week and you have to fully participate or else. It was painful enough to breathe in estrogen-filled air where all the jokes, stories and speech echoed a Lifetime Network movie. Now certain humiliation seemed my destiny for that week. I worked as an accounting clerk for a main office of a large retailer. The part of my job I liked was finding errors and reporting them to Loss Prevention to the two former cops–i.e. pudgy guys in corduroy jackets. In today’s paperless world it is hard to imagine carbon credit card receipts and miles of register tape being manually reconciled, but indeed that was 1986. With an increasing speed at the 10-key calculator and an eye for irregularities I might make something of myself..well, not really.
The pressure weighed heavy to produce a dessert. I had to be a team player moreover succeed at contributing something worthy of my manhood; or, can we just say “keep my pair” while holding my nose to this awful, tortuous office rite of passage?
My mind frantically struggled to picture the dessert creation I was to bring. I was no slouch in the kitchen when it came to making something edible, but dessert created a fantastic opportunity for failure. Of course, I was living with my mom and asked her advice. She offered her recipe file box and directed me to “fast” favorites.
“Dump Salad” was listed on one of the cards. I loved the title. And, I could prepare it quickly. The pure pleasure of the messiness in the recipe meant I might retain some sense of manhood. More truthfully, I simply feared further embarrassment compounded to an already awkward work environment.
With shear genius I obtained the ingredients in this anti-establishment-pistachio-jello thing and literally dumped the ingredients into a bowl. All I recall is that a mountain of Cool Whip was involved and jello mix and some nuts, and other stuff.
With beads of sweat I displayed this dish on the dessert end of our office eats table. Would anyone even attempt to eat this stuff? Should they?
Then, the most miraculous thing occurred that one afternoon during the year of ratted hair and leg warmers worn over stretchy pants office women–they LOVED it! The hilarious thing was that I was inundated with requests for the recipe. That day an office potluck one-hit-wonder was born–Dump Salad.