Jesse Tise

Recently I found myself at a “friends avoiding family” holiday potluck. Despite all attendees being comedians, I assumed we’d meet at a house. Far less surprising, I found myself walking up several flights of stairs to the host’s micro studio. The door cautiously swung open, blocking the bathroom, while narrowly missing the open Murphy bed and stove/counter/sink/dresser/cupboard. As an adult with a full-time grownup job, I felt a tinge of pity for my peer, but as an aspiring creative, I was filled with a deep sense of envy.

Our host assured me five guests plus myself would not be sharing our victuals while precariously perched or huddled on his mattress, but in the basement common area which, had it been a residence, would have made a New York banker proud: ample counter space, sectional sofa, cinema-sized TV, and multiple dining tables, refrigerators, and stoves. The accent wall of hanging bikes added the necessary touch of ultra-modern Portland hip. But enough about atmosphere. Let’s dive right into the cuisine.

One guest brought an expansive veggie tray, handsomely complemented by a wad of prosciutto wrapped in cellophane. Both items had been spirited away from an office luncheon the previous day, because comedians are nothing if not classy. Some readers may question the shamelessness of walking off with an entire table spread, but not I. I surveyed the ill-gotten feast with equal parts hunger and admiration. Sure, I’ve occasionally procured a week’s groceries by scavenging the remnants of corporate meals meant to impress potential clients, but our friend had truly gone a step above. I wondered if he’d brought the cellophane from home, already knowing what had to be done. The prosciutto was extra meaningful as the guest in question is a lifelong vegetarian. So that particular gain of petty theft was entirely selfless—the Lord’s work. Granted, Jesus was Jewish and unlikely a fan of cured pork, but I have total faith he would have smiled upon this fistful of pig carcass.

Another guest brought a trough of twice-baked potatoes in mashed casserole form with a customary sprinkling of bacon. Again, the Lord smiled upon it and said, “It was good.” The dish also offered the opportunity to demonstrate my superior poverty skills as all in attendance scrambled to find oven mitts, even as perfectly good pieces of cardboard sat nearby. As every poor boy knows, an emptied six-pack of tallboys equals oven mitts, coasters, and occasional wallpaper.

Also served was a store-bought rotisserie chicken (extra classy, as the deli seal had not yet been broken, assuring us of its implied freshness), a sampling of beers, mid-range liquor, and whatever scraps the neighbors had foolishly left in the refrigerators with no names attached. The final guest to arrive completed our bounty with pie and marijuana—for what is a holiday in Portland without grass and pastries?

Together, we reveled in delicious poverty, and the resultant bowel movement was every bit as satisfying.

Score: 10/10.