I walked into the staff room at work last week to peruse the snack box, trying to persuade myself the mixed nuts were a smarter choice than the calorie-intensive Snickers bar. I wasn’t convinced.

That’s when something caught my eye and I felt that familiar nausea. There, on the communal refrigerator, was the sign-up form for the holiday potluck lunch.

I am usually the first one to register for anything. Keen to the core. I have put my name on thousands of registration lists like save the turtles, save the trees, save the plastic forks (because you might need them later). Hey, I have even registered for organ donation without a second thought. I am not afraid to register for stuff. Except potlucks.

Nothing stresses me out like a potluck lunch for a variety of reasons only a therapist could surmise. But since I don’t have a therapist on speed dial (apparently, they too can block numbers), I’ll tell you. For me, potluck lunches are more awkward than attending your spouse’s work Christmas party and making small talk with people he only describes to you by nicknames they don’t know he uses. (For the record, I am sure Steve is a very nice fellow who in no way resembles the backside of a barn animal. Sorry, Steve.).

I am a potluck party pooper. For years, I have been gluten free and dairy free. My reward is a recent diagnosis of an egg allergy (bowels aren’t the only thing irritable). I am about as much fun at a potluck as a poet at a book-burning protest. This is because I have several cruel food allergies and a digestive system run by a small, independent group of terrorists determined to overrun me and exist solely on lettuce (void of tasty salad dressing, I might add).

Only people with food “sensitivities” or allergies will appreciate the fear of the potluck. It’s like dancing through a mine field of explosive dishes laden with cheese. Plus, in my experience at other functions (family dinners are truly the happiest occasions), potlucks come with usually well-meaning yet patronizing remarks like, “I think all these sudden food issues are just bogus” (because I would totally choose to be hungry and miss out on all those delicious foods you are all raving about). Then there is the ever-helpful “you are such a picky eater,” which makes you want to retaliate or perhaps explain in great, expressive detail what happens to your body after you eat the allergen-inducing foods. Don’t do that. Or do. Totally your call.

Also, it’s no secret that I don’t like to cook. I don’t bake either. I prefer to support local bakers because they run businesses that contribute to my local economy, and thus, I contribute to them. Shop local. Hire a baker. (That’s right, I played that card. Nobody will argue that.)

All I know is, on the eve of the potluck, I still had no idea what to do but open a bag of plain popcorn with a note that reads, “have at’er.”

You know I won’t do that. My mom raised me better. I will do the right thing. I will register for the company potluck lunch because peer pressure is harsh in a small office. I hope they like plain white rice. Dig in, dear coworkers.

Welcome to my world.

Hold the lettuce.