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Published:November 12th, 2011 12:40 EST
Family Dinner Smackdown: A Fight Over Potato Salad?

Family Dinner Smackdown: A Fight Over Potato Salad?

By Donna Cavanagh

So, you think you know your family? Think twice. Police arrested a Florida woman who allegedly tried to attack her 80-year-old father with a knife because he wouldn`t share his potato salad with her.  Now, right away, as people will, they jump to condemn the person in potential trouble with the law.  Without knowing any of the background, they say, OMG! She is so guilty. I read it online so it must be true."

Well, I am here to defend this woman. Really?  No. I think this woman is a whack job. I am with the rest of the world. Anyone who gets violent over potato salad even if it was Aunt Bea`s potato salad that won all the blue ribbons at the county fair " has lost her marbles. She needs to be put away, but I am still curious what her trigger was.

Did she just snap? Was she coming off some narcotic or alcohol-related high? Was she one of those women who suffer from the really bad version of PMS?  Was her father not a nice person?  Was this the last straw in a long list of inconsiderate acts on his part?  Something got into this woman besides a yen for potato salad.

That being said, she could have gone to the grocery store and bought some potato salad; she could have chopped up a few potatoes herself-- she obviously had access to a knife-- and made her own potato salad and not shared it with the old man; or she could have taken some of his food and said, "See, you ate my potato salad, I am eating this."

The reason I want to know what set her off is that I can sort of understand food frustration. I had a roommate in college who used to keep a jar of cashews on her bookcase. She counted the nuts in the jar each day to make sure no one ate any. She drove me crazy with these cashews. She would smack those things every night as I tried to study.  When I heard that tin lid on that jar twist, the hair on the back of my neck would stand up and I would just wait for the first " Smack, smack, smack".

Now, did I take a knife to her? No, I had only stolen one fork and spoon from the cafeteria so I was unprepared, plus she was from Staten Island, so I think she could have taken me easily.  But when other people were in my room and the cashew jar opened, they would head out the door as quickly as possible because the smacking sound was so annoying.  I once politely asked her, "Could you chew more quietly?" which only led her to spitefully smack harder.  I couldn`t concentrate; she was the reason I had to drop organic chemistry and switch majors.  Okay, no. That one was on me, but it`s nice to have someone else to blame for that.

But the cashews became a joke in the dorm. If I was out in the common area study and anyone passed by, they would say "Cashews?"  Finally, about halfway through the semester, she fell in love with a guy who lived off campus. My life was so much better.  She was never there, and I knew this was the love of her life because she took the cashews with her.  Then, the jackass boyfriend cheated on her; I was devastated. How could he have done this to me?  I wanted to beat him up. My entire dorm was in mourning. I did receive several offers from the guys on my floor to move in with them. I thought that was sweet, and I am sure their thoughts were as pure as the driven snow.

I did get through the semester, and after summer break, I got a single.   I ran into her ex-boyfriend the next semester on the subway, and I asked "So, what happened? " And he said, and I kid you not, "I couldn`t take the cashews. Did you ever hear her eat the cashews? I thought I was going to kill her."

Moral of the tale:  There are always two sides to every story.  Maybe the daughter with the knife was crazy or maybe her dad had just smacked his potato salad one too many times.