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Celebrating My Independence From Happiness and Peace of Mind

July 4, 2013

Ordinarily, the 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays because it, along with Memorial Day and Labor Day, is one of the potato salad holidays. It is actually my least favorite of the potato salad holidays, owing secondarily to the firework noise and primarily to the glut of Lost Pet posters that spring up in the wake of the firework noise, but in the words of one of our founding fathers,

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary to choose between potato salad and no potato salad, the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God compel one to choose potato salad. We hold these truths to be self-evident. Nom nom nom.

– John Hancock

I’m fairly certain that Hancock was the kind of guy who, at holiday gatherings, ate more than his share of potato salad, although the historical record is silent on this point.

Anyway. I usually enjoy the 4th, is my point. This year my plans were as follows:

  • Spend the afternoon of the 3rd making potato salad
  • On the afternoon of the 4th, take potato salad to friend’s house
  • John Hancock the potato salad at friend’s house
  • Leave friend’s house early; come home and eat potato salad

Because this is America, that’s why.

However, it became apparent early on in the run-up to the third greatest potato salad holiday of 2013 that things would not go as planned.

July 3, 12:30 PM

I began making the potato salad (YAY) and got as far as chilling the potatoes when the phone rang (BOO). I ignored the phone. The phone rang again. I ignored the phone. The phone rang again. FINE. I answered the phone and spent the next hour and a half talking to one of my East Coast cousins who I only talk to about once a year and who every year slips further and further into mental illness.

July 3, 2:00 PM

I finish making the potato salad and try not to think about the person my cousin used to be, and who she is now, and who she will be next year or in five years or in ten years if she lives that long. I also did that thing where you hold your eyes open really wide and don’t blink for like, an hour, because if you do, you will cry in the potato salad and have to throw it out and go to the store to buy more potatoes.

July 4, shortly after midnight

I was walking through a parking lot alone. I saw two women I hadn’t seen in 15 years and they said, “don’t let him see you.” Just then I saw a car that looked like this:

except it was pink, had tinted windows, was filled with smoke, and was being driven by Satan. Oh. I was having a nightmare. I guess I should have mentioned that. Satan gets out, and it turns out Satan is the lawyer I worked for in my first job out of law school. He says, “MWAH HAH HAH!” and I start to run, but because I am barefoot and he is wearing Ferragamo shoes on his cloven hooves (he’s evil, but dresses really well), I know he’s going to catch me. I woke up before he caught up to me, and I decided to stay awake just in case dreams are real and I really did work for Satan 15 years ago and now he was back to claim my soul and take it with him to back to hell (or San Bruno, which is similar in many ways), and you would too if you’d ever worked for this guy. OH HELL NO. I just looked him up on the State Bar website and he’s a judge now. That is so very wrong, I can’t even tell you how much.

July 4, 11:00 AM

I went out to the alley to bring in the trash can and compost bin after the collection trucks went through. Hey, things are looking up. Not only did they not delay trash collection because of the holiday, they actually got here early for once. It’s a Potato Salad Nation’s Birthday Miracle!

When I looked inside the compost bin I saw … maggots. There were maggots in the compost bin. Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Also: ick.

Some combination of food waste and the recent heat wave and me evidently shutting a fly in the bin at some point created this most disgusting turn of events.

So I spent the next, I don’t know, two hours maybe, spraying insecticide in the bin, waiting for the maggots to die, drowning their little maggoty corpses, dumping out the water in the alley behind my neighbor’s house (WHAT? He flicks cigarette butts into my yard! I owe him nothing!), filling up the bin with soapy water, dumping out the soapy water, staring fearfully into the bottom of the bin, lather, rinse, repeat. I’m sure I appeared quite insane, but I don’t care because gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Then I threw away my gloves, came inside, showered, washed my hair, washed the clothes I’d been wearing, and ran a bleach and hot water cycle through the washing machine because gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.


Thus, I am not feeling very festive. I’ve decided to stay home, and in fact I might not even eat any potato salad today, so I think you see how serious this is oh who am I kidding, I will eat that potato salad until I have a chive and mayonnaise headache and we all know it. Potato salad makes everything better. Or, as another of our founding fathers stated,

Where potato salad dwells, there is my country.

– Benjamin Franklin

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. July 4, 2013 5:36 PM

    I once discovered maggots in the back seat of an ex-girlfriend’s car; she’d forgotten some leftover thai food back there, and the moment I got in the car, I could smell that unmistakeable maggot smell. Best part, the thai food container had leaked a little of its soiled nasty juice onto the seat fabric, and that’s where the maggots were. Personally, I would have just set the car on fire, but she cleaned it up. I swear I could still smell that smell in her car months later. So nasty.

    Potato salad is awesome. My mom’s recipe is my personal favorite; she’s part German, so she makes hers German style.

    I didn’t know maggots had a distinctive smell. Gaaaaaaa … well, you know the rest. I didn’t notice anything, but maybe that’s because I was outside and also because as soon as I saw what was going on I ran for the can of Raid and then bombed the shit out of them, so all I could smell was Raid, which was bad enough. I’m with you on the cloth seats, though. I’ll hold on to a car until the wheels fall off, but maggots in the upholstery? No no no no no.

    German potato salad uses vinegar instead of mayo, I think? I’m basing this statement entirely on an episode of Happy Days, so it might not be accurate, but in any case, Mr. C prefers the kind made with vinegar, in case this ever comes up in conversation.

  2. Barbara permalink
    July 4, 2013 5:53 PM

    I’m not a big fan of potato salad, most in part because of the word “salad”. But now I doubt I will ever eat it because I am associating it with maggots.

    Not to worry because I have ice cream that needs eating. And just a little side note, right after my email notification of your post there’s an email from Allrecipes giving me ice cream recipes! The universe has spoken.

    I realize the words, “I’m not a big fan of potato salad” are in English, and yet they hold no meaning for me.

    I recently ran across a recipe for lime ice cream that I’d saved but never made but I don’t know why. It was pretty much: “lime juice, sugar, cream, stir, put it in the freezer, take it out of the freezer. Enjoy.”

  3. Bex permalink
    July 4, 2013 7:10 PM

    Went away for a few days some summer in college, came home to discover roommate left chicken curry in oven which was crawling with maggots. Didn’t help that we lived in attic apartment which was positively boiling in summer. I just turned on the oven and basically roasted them! Never used the oven again. Nasty creepy crawlies!

    You know, I have to say that everyone’s maggot stories are helping me to cope. It’s like a support group for people who are disgusted. I doubt I could have used the oven again either. And it would have been a while before I could face up to a chicken curry as well.

  4. July 5, 2013 1:39 AM

    I have to confess that one of the reasons I don’t compost is my horror of insects of all kinds. Insects are one of the things that immediately unmask me as SO non-crunchy and green at the heart of my very dark soul as I immediately start reaching for the chemicals when I see one. I’m so sorry your fourth kind of sucked–hopefully tomorrow will be better as part of the four-day weekend.

    I think German potato salad has mustard in it, in addition to the other ingredients. I’ve also seen bacon bits in potato salad. After your day, I think you need an extra potato salad holiday this year!

    Composting is compulsory here; about two years ago, the city outlawed having food waste in the garbage for single-family houses so now everyone has to have a green waste cart. Theoretically, the trash collectors are supposed to refuse to pick up any garbage that has food in it, but since they aren’t all that eager to inspect every bag of trash before throwing it in the truck, a lot of people still don’t use the compost bin. Also, apartments and restaurants are exempt, so it’s really just a bit of showy nonsense that our former mayor instituted. The beauty part of it for the city is that we have to pay them to take away our yard and food waste, then they turn it into compost and sell it. They are making a fortune off my banana peels and coffee grounds.

    There should just be a day called Potato Salad Day. It should be in early June, so kids can get the day off from school.

  5. July 5, 2013 11:02 AM

    Actually there IS a National Potato Salad Day–but it is March 8th and I would hate to think of you having to wait that long to eat your potato salad!

    That is SO obnoxious about the compost requirement. I would be tempted to say: “you want me to compost, so will you be willing to pay my exterminator fees as well?” That would almost make me tempted to give up coffee, but that would probably not be a good thing for the future of humanity, even if it was helpful for the planet in an ecological sense.

    I saw the Facebook page for National Potato Salad Day, but it only had something like 20 likes. They’re probably trying to celebrate that blasphemous form of potato salad served at the Nordstrom cafe that’s just potatoes sprinkled with dill.

    Our former mayor had a reputation for being one the greenest mayors in the country, but most of his green initiatives are actually worse for the environment, although they sound good to stupid people. When he was up for re-election, most people voted on an Anyone But Him basis, and although it hardly seems possible, our current mayor is even worse.

  6. July 5, 2013 4:46 PM

    Compost bins? Don’t you people have garbage disposals? I have a compost pile but I have never seen maggots in it.

    Not only do maggots have a smell, they have a taste. At least the ones in my Saltines did. Now I keep all flours and whole grains and such in the freezer.

    My SO does not like mayo but he loves hot German potato salad. Yes, it has vinegar and sugar and mustard and bacon in it. Hmm – maybe I should make some to go with our oven fried chicken Sunday night, even if it is past Independence Day.

    I don’t have a garbage disposal because those things are just odor generators, but even when I did have one, I wouldn’t put big hunks of food down there. It’s only meant to be used for small incidental bits that fall in the sink. I remember when the movie Ordinary People came out and people were shocked that Mary Tyler Moore was playing such a cold-hearted person, but I was mainly horrified by her character cramming two pieces of French Toast down the drain.

    I don’t think I’ve ever had German potato salad, and it sounds odd, but given that it’s potato salad, I’m sure I’ll try it at some point. I looked in my ATK cookbook and there’s a recipe for it that sounds like yours, although, really, German mustard? How many jars of mustard am I supposed to have at one time, Universe? Can’t we all just agree on yellow?

  7. Marius permalink
    July 6, 2013 6:06 PM

    Sorry to disappoint you, but while I’m sure I’ve encountered maggots at some point, I don’t really recall any specifics. I do remember the time I found a bug in my breakfast cereal. I used to like to suck the milk out of my spoon before eating each bite (yeah, I was the weird kid) and this one time I looked at the spoon before putting it in my mouth and there was a bug of some kind there. I couldn’t have been more than 7 or 8, so I guess it left an impression. And my 4th was spent nursing a sick baby, so not very festive either, and zero potato salad to boot.

    Your story reminds me very much of Jerry Seinfeld’s story of the time he found a hair in his Farina. He freaked out and started running. Three hours later, they found him collapsed at a construction site. Of the things you can find in your cereal, I think bug would be worse than hair, but band-aid would be the worst. I have no point here.

    I hope Sharon’s feeling better today.

  8. July 6, 2013 9:27 PM

    maggots? ggggggggggaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh indeed!
    potato salad? Maybe it’s because I’m Canadian, but I don’t really care for it… it makes me think of funerals or something… weird huh?

    That is weird, unless Canadian funerals are more like picnics, in which case, — no still weird. Or maybe you’ve only had French potato salad, American potato salad’s inferior, radish-laden cousin. Someone I know served French potato salad at a 4th of July party one year, and I still hold a little grudge.

  9. July 8, 2013 10:12 AM

    I am also Canadian, and I don’t care for potato salad either. However, my mother apparently makes a great potato salad, which she has become rather famous for, so it would seem that the enjoyment of potato salad isn’t limited to Americans (She doesn’t put radishes in it, which would make it even gross-er).

    The mom of my first boyfriend back in high school also made a great potato salad, so much so that it extended the length of my relationship with her son long past the point where I’d decided that I hated him. My mom doesn’t make potato salad at all, but if she did, she’d probably put radishes in it. She’s a big fan of radishes.

  10. July 8, 2013 12:18 PM

    You had me until “mayo.” I’ll eat mayo potato salad if it’s the only choice (it IS still potato salad, after all), but I really prefer the mustard variety. Or the kind with red potatoes, sour cream and dill. And in a pinch I have used ranch dressing to hold it all together. But then, I’m sort of from the south and we do love our ranch.

    How do you get a southern girl to give you a blowjob? Dip your d*** in ranch. ;).

    Just mustard? I’m not familiar with this. Nor have I heard of red potato/sour cream/dill, which sounds pretty good, but I’ve had red potato/vinaigrette/dill, a type of potato salad that makes me angry and resentful. I will eat ranch dressing if there’s no blue cheese dressing available, but if I’ve discovered that someone’s genitals have been in it, I will throw it in the compost bin regardless of what kind of dressing it is.

  11. Cat Boy permalink
    July 20, 2013 6:59 AM

    According to Google, March 8 is National Potato Salad Day. March seems entirely the wrong month. I’m not really surprised since I know someone who posts daily updates on facebook telling us which “National Day” is happens to be: National Apricot day is months before apricots are in season, National Doughnut Day is in June and people are more likely to eat doughnuts in winter (unless they are hosting a garage sale, at which doughnuts I have been told are required).

    Anyway, I have a friend who makes potato salad with a mustard-based dressing, but I have yet to have it so I can’t say whether or not I like it. In the 1980s I made potato salad with red-skinned potatoes and a dressing of sour cream, mayonnaise and lots of dill, but I had no idea it had become popular in the years since I got bored with it.

    This year I made a pretty standard version but I think I used too much white pepper in it since it had a slightly bitter aftertaste. I still ate a quart of it, but I kind of grumbled when I did it.

    I had maggots in my garbage recently. It was the first time in years and it made me want to move.

    I looked up unusual holidays and the timing does seem random. National Cherry Pie Day is in February, but National Lasagna Day is in July. Completely backwards. I do like that August 8 is Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day though, as it acknowledges that everyone grows zucchini but no one ever eats it.

    If I didn’t already want to move, the maggots would make me want to move. I’ve become much more squeamish about bugs in the last couple of weeks, and I seem to have a lot of imaginary bug bites, which is probably the third phase of encroaching insanity. Yesterday I realized that I couldn’t put the meat tray in the garbage because it wouldn’t get collected for another six days of 80°+ heat, so instead I threw it away in the trash can at the picnic area in the park. It was either that or keep an empty meat tray in my fridge for a week, and I just don’t want to be the person who refrigerates her trash.

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