My wife and I have different ideas on what to take to a potluck. Obi Wan and Darth Vader different. Sherlock Holmes and Jim Moriarty different.

For example, Obi Wan would take homemade potato salad; Darth Vader would bring a box of Oreos with three cookies missing. Sherlock would take goat cheese spinach artichoke dip; Moriarty would bring chips that would in no way go with goat cheese, spinach or artichokes, and may be explosive.

“There’s a potluck at the Toddler’s school tonight,” my wife said. After nearly 16 years of marriage she’s gotten the “Don’t tell Jason anything until the last minute or he’ll find a way to back out” thing down pat. “We need to take something.”

Panic didn’t set in. Cooking something awesome for people I don’t know is a challenge I’m always up for. If I’d been alive during WWI I think I could have ended hostilities on July 29, 1914, with a Crock-Pot of Philly cheesesteak dip and a big bowl of homemade pita chips.

“OK,” I said, formulating a shopping list in my head. Trimmed strip loin, provolone cheese, Poblano peppers, beer. Lots of beer. You know, to keep my sanity. Mushrooms, onions … “When do we need to be there?”

“Five o’clock.”

Great. Cool. For the pitas, I’ll need flour, fresh garlic, olive oil …

“I’ll pick up some chips and Oreos,” she said and stopped my thoughts as surely as if she’d hit me with a frying pan.

“Chips?” Did I hear her correctly? “Chips are easy. Chips are … lazy.”

She shrugged. “So what? Everybody likes chips.”

I will admit it was the kind of argument that would probably stand up in a court of law.

“Let’s look at it this way,” I said, trying to make my failing point sound rational. “If there were 50 dishes at the potluck dinner, the probability of everyone bringing chips is … is … OK, so it’s only three percent, but still. It could happen.”

“I’ll get Doritos,” she said, leaving for the grocery store. “Everybody likes Doritos.”

There are sacred rules for a potluck:

• Don’t assume the main course and bring condiments. Ketchup doesn’t go with everything, or anything.

• A lot of people don’t like cold spaghetti. There. I said it.

• Raisins do NOT go in potato salad. What kind of world did you grow up in? I don’t want to know.

• Store-bought coleslaw is a travesty of nature.

• The same goes for cookies.

• Don’t bring anything in a bucket.

• Don’t complain about the drinks – the tea is always instant.

• Don’t be Darth Vader. It’s not cool to eat any of the food before you get there.

She brought home two bags of chips and a box of Oreos. I didn’t look to see if there was anything missing.

“Let’s go,” she said.

There’s a potluck at church on Sunday. Maybe we’ll bring an unopened box of Hamburger Helper.

Hey, look everybody, it’s the Offutts.

– Jason’s newest novel, “Bad Day for a Road Trip,” is available at