Thursday, December 06, 2007


I am in a book club here in Big City Brazil. It's not your garden variety read a book and talk about it type. It's more of a traveling library, full of the latest popular titles. We meet twice a month to eat and check out new books. I love it because I can check out several books, and there's no pressure to finish if I don't like them, or if I just don't have time before the next meeting.

Today was our Christmas party potluck-luncheon. Gaupo's been out of town since Saturday, so my goal for the week is to stay sane long enough for him to walk through the door- then I can hole myself up in my room for a few hours to recover. Anyway, I decided to buy a salad to take to the luncheon instead of making one-one less thing to worry about, right?

So, this morning on the way to the party Sergio drops me off at a nearby restaurant/cafe that sells food to go. This is a place that I've heard good things about since we've lived there, but I'd never gone. So, I went in and took my favorite smallish pewter bowl with me so they could just put the salad in the bowl for me so it looked like I had prepared it. I picked out what the sales girl said was their best salad-some kind of potato salad. She asked if I wanted her to garnish it for me with lettuce leaves. Sure? Why not?

She brought out the lovely potato salad and gave it to the check-out girl. She rang up the price.

Do you want to know how much I paid for that potato salad today?

Just take a guess.

. . .a little higher

. . . higher

Try $60.35 USD

That's right.


I didn't even have enough cash on me. I had to go out to my car, quite lightheaded and nauseated by that point, and get a credit card to pay for potato salad. I totally would have high-tailed it out of there had the salad not been in my favorite pewter bowl.

Oh how I wish this were the only sad story I had to report today, but there's more.

I had to take a white elephant gift that was supposed to be valued at $25.00. I grudgingly broke in to my gift stash and chose a very nice talevara plate that I had bought in Mexico. We played the game where you draw numbers and pick in order, the person's whose turn it is can either chose a new present, or steal one that has already been opened. I drew #9. Not bad out of 15.

(Still stewing over the salad, I was considering sticking the remainder of it under the tree with a bow on it.)

#6, a Indian/Trinidadian woman chose my present. She was delighted with the plate, making me feel like it was worth its sacrifice.

When my turn came around I ended up with the best present there (ok. so I may have taken it from someone else, but we are just going to ignore this little part of the story and focus on my pain and my suffering, not the woman's that I took it from). I had in my possession a bag full of GOLD.


  • One can of Hershey's syrup
  • 3 duncan hines cookie mixes
  • 1 Betty Crocker carrot cake
  • 1 Betty Crocker cream cheese frosting
  • 1 box of Stove Top stuffing
  • 1 can of Spaghettios
  • 1 box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese

For those of you who live in the States, maybe you can't understand my excitement-but I haven't seen any of these products since we were home 5 months ago. You can't get ANY of that stuff here. And everyone (even the woman I stole it from) was all, "that's great, she's got 4 kids, they'll have a great time with that stuff"

I clung to that bag like my life depended on it. I still had to wait out 6 people. I made it safely through #10, #11, #12, #13, #14. Then we came to #15. I assessed the situation: an older Brazilian lady with no children at home and who hadn't shown any interest in my gift as it was being ohhhhhed-and-ahhhhhhhed over by the Americans.

I relaxed my death grip on the bag. I was in the clear.

But then, out of nowhere, #15 strolled over and took the talevara plate from the Indian/Trinidadian woman!

And then she proceeded to come and take my precious!

She's Indian for pete's sake. Have you tried Indian food? REAL Indian food? It's so spicy it makes me cry to even smell it. There's no way she and her one daughter can appreciate the American-ness of mac and cheese or spaghettios. Or stuffing??? I'm sorry but it's just not possible.

My head was still spinning so fast from what had just happened I couldn't think rationally. I could have stolen one of the other acceptable gifts, but instead, I grabbed the last package. It looked like this:

Unicef??? Hello Gabs! Do you know why it was the LAST PRESENT to be chosen??? A Unicef bag says, "It's the thought that counts! You're helping kids and that's what's really important!"

So, after sacrificing $60.00 on the stupid salad and one of my talavera plates I came home with this lovely set of napkins and place mats that smells funny:

Am I being a brat? Maybe.

They are so going to be re-gifted. And soon.


Janice said...

I so feel your pain. We one time brought a great gift to a white elephant party and ended up with a nursing video! A nursing video! If possible, I would send you a crate full of Betty Crocker stuff.

Super Happy Girl said...

Wow. Gambling millions in Vegas has nothing on you Gabs.

Note to self: Never ever participate in those new/stealing gift exchange/white elephant things. I will only get my heart broken.

Nettie said...

I'm sorry, Gabs!

So, was the potato salad delicious?

Anonymous said...

OH! Speechless...except I have to know what Guapo said about $60 potato salad.

Unknown said...

That was a rough day! Bummer that the potato salad was in your own bowl, so you couldn't just walk out and forget about it. Was it the best potato salad you have ever eaten?

That is painful that you were so close to taking home such yummy treasures that your family would have enjoyed to lose it on the last someone who is most likely not going to appreciate it as much. Maybe Santa will come through for you???

I have a Christmas activity idea for you. Have you made candy canes out of pipe cleaners? It is super easy and my kids love making them. You can use 2 or 3 different colors and twist them together and then just bend the top over. We put ours on our tree instead of real candy canes. Keep us posted on your activities. :-)

Kristine said...

Ouch. It hurts just to read it. So sorry Gabs...

Don't you want to sew those napkins together to make a be-you-tiful valance for your kitchen?? You could remember the muy fabuloso potato salad for a VERY long time.

Erickson Family said...


After months of no-blogging, I finally got DSL and my blogging life has gotten so much nicer. Sorry I haven't commented in a while. I'll try to be better.

$60 potato salad!!!! I think I would have sacrificed the bowl (I'm that cheap.) Oh well, it is just money right??? That's too funny that is was so expensive and here it is so cheap.

The greater tragedy is losing all the great American food. And to an Indian lady!!!! Maybe she had a secret fettish for Stove Top and Mac and Cheese.

At least the napkins are very colorful?????? Ugh. Lo siento mucho.

Anonymous said...

At least you write well. That was hillarious.

I loved reading it.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about that mom. Hey! I did not know it hade spagetios in it. Id give almost any thing for a can of those! mmmmm! yummy!

Gabriela said...

Janice: A nursing video? I bet the people who unloaded that were laughing their heads off. Oh how I wish you could send me stuff like that!

NCS: that's exactly how I felt: like my heart was broken. :(

Nettie: no, it wasn't even really that great.

Jules: yeah, Guapo was pretty much shocked when I told him. At least he's out of town.

Maine mom: I LOVE the idea, thanks! I'm going to do it because they don't have candy canes here-so our tree is lacking. Thanks!

Kristine: LOL. Yes, a valance, that's just what I need to remind myself of what a bad decision I made under pressure!

Handiemom: Hey!!! Great to see you back in the game.

Thanks Em, I mean Anonymous.

Maragarita: I'm sorry hon, I tried my hardest.

utmommy said...

That better have been some pretty darn good potato salad.

You're not being a brat AT. ALL. I would be feeling the same way.

JD said...

Wow I could have bought lots o Mac and Cheese with that potaoe salad money LOL I am so sorry!

Those Napkins and fluff-so sad but I have to drop the
HIDIOUS bomb on that one:)

andalucy said...

I wish the Indian lady a very un-merry Christmas.

Lana said...

ouch!! that is crazy!!
Sorry about the gift too, it's always like that, someone brings a lame-o thing. In fact, that was me when I was a brownie scout and we had a book exchange and I brought Rudolph and no one wanted it. I quit the troop since I was so ashamed of my lameness :(

marine's words said...

I feel so bad for you after spending 60.00$ on a potato salad and you got nothing back but a pair of flower napkins.THAT INDIAN LADY I KNOW WHE WON'T LIKE THE MAC AND CHEESE, and you don't sound like a brat I would of felt the same way,if I could I would send you mac & cheese and Hersheys. I feel your pain its ok you can vent to us we understand.May God bless you with some treats these season.

marine's words said...

oops. I guess you know I skip keys at times my hands DON'T think as fast as my mind. MENT TO SAY THAT INDIAN LADY SHE WON'T LIKE MAC & CHEESE, and don't feel too bad my friend highlight my hair for free b/c I had sent her 6 clients and she gave me a free be.well I didn't like the way it turn out so I told her if she could re -do it and she said she does not have time she is too busy moving into her new house, thats what I get for having a friend who is a hairdresser so if it makes you feel any better I spent 117.00$ to have it re-done. ouch that hurt.marina , so much for my friend.

Anonymous said...

hey, are those lemons on those placemats? You may want save them for your mama. They go with some glasses I bought in Italy. Stick them in he Unicef bag and put a bow on them for me for Christmas.

Gabriela said...

They are yours mom, just don't use them when I come to visit!

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry...I would have been in tears by the time the Indian lady grabbed my bag. Hope Santa comes through for you this Christmas!