Monday, April 11, 2016


In a fit of desperation, I commanded my children to place a potato in the middle of my bed when someone called on the old fashioned plug-in-the-wall phone, and the caller, in a burst of wild optimism tried to leave me a message, via the children. We called it the Reminder Potato Program. I even organized a demonstration, showing them how to select, place, and display the reminder potato properly.

It worked, until it didn’t.

It worked when I walked into my room and seeing a reminder potato in the middle of my bed, I would yell, “Hey, who called? What did they want? Who took the call? Who put the potato on the bed? What happened just before you put the potato on the bed? Think hard. Are you thinking?”

After said child stared at the potato for a while and got over the perplexed phase (indicated by the lowering of the eyebrows, narrowing of the eyes, and biting of the lips) the light of awareness would flush their cheeks and they’d say, “Oh . . . ummm . . . yeah . . . some man called about something. He sounded mad or sad. I can’t remember.”

Okay, the potato program had its flaws.

For as long as mankind has dug tubers out of the muck, we have struggled over how to get our messages in a timely way.

In the beginning, human beings did not pass on messages like “Hey gang, I just found some potatoes over here in this muck.” Instead, beginning humans grabbed the potatoes, disappeared behind a clump of bushes, and ate them as fast of they could coordinate their jaw muscles.

Soon, the rules of civilization dictated that it was important to let the rest of the village know a vicious tribe of potato thieves was on its way to sack and burn--well, everything--except the potatoes, of course.

Then the messages became clear but annoying like, “Let them eat potatoes, made into potato cakes.” We hated those messages so much we cut off people’s heads over it with a giant potato slicer.

America became the land of innovative message delivery systems, starting with lanterns swinging from church towers (one potato, two potato, three potato—Brits knocking at the door.)

We’ve kept on improving message delivery systems to the point, that now and at any given moment, you can receive more messages than you can either stand or interpret while waiting in the check-out line or sitting on the toilet. (LMAOOTF, Mom? Will you make OMG ‘tato surprise? K-Dot. M.)

I still don’t know who called or why.

The Zern family potato program did not work when the reminder potato rolled off and then under the bed and started to grow—in the dark, on carpet, like a giant potato spider. When I discovered one too many reminder potatoes under my bed, doing their darnedest to become potato bushes, I knew the program had failed.

Pulling one potato into the light, its trailing roots almost translucent, I called out, “Hey, who called? What did they want? Who took the call?”

No answer.

Sorry I’m not available right now, I’m spring cleaning, under my bed. Leave a message or text me.

Linda (Sweet Potato Pie) Zern

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