Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tater Tots

My youngest is Star Student at his school this week. We were over at my friend E.'s house after basketball on Saturday when my kid reminded me he needed my help with the assignment.

"Jesus, we have to do Star Fucking Student this weekend?" I said.

E.'s wife gave me a withering glance.

E. laughed. "Nice parenting," he said.

"Like neither of the little bastards have ever heard that before," I said, gesturing at our kids. They shrugged in agreement and went back to working on a puzzle.

"Careful buddy," I told my boy. "Last time you choked on a puzzle piece. Remember, use your hands, not your mouth. If you're hungry we can make you a nice paste sandwich."

"Hey," said E. "I can help you guys do the Star Student thing. Is that the one where he has to tell the class about himself?"

"Yeah," I said. "I think he should focus on his love of popcorn. That's the most interesting thing about him."

"Shut up," both kids said.

"Or he could talk about his pet potato," I mused.

"That was the stupidest damn thing you ever did," said E.'s wife.

"Watch your language," I said. "These children are sensitive. Besides, it wasn't stupid, it was educational."

A few years ago we went to a reunion for the Lovely Bride's family. It was held in a small town park and there were a hundred people, give or take. We don't see most of them very often and the Lovely Bride enjoyed catching up.

Meanwhile my youngest and middle son played catch. When the youngest took a short break I encouraged the middle boy to give his brother a hug to thank him for playing so nicely. He did, but as he turned to walk away the youngest gaped at him in horror and then threw a baseball at his back, dropping him in his tracks.

The Lovely Bride stormed over and asked the youngest for an explanation while the crowd watched with interest.

"He hugged me," he said, pointing at his brother.

"He told me to," his brother said, pointing at me.

"Oops," I said, avoiding my wife's glare.

"Keep them away from each other," she hissed. "In fact, take the middle one to the grocery to get some more hot dog buns. Don't bother to hurry back."

At the store my boy suddenly veered toward the produce section.

"What are you doing?" I asked. "I want to go look at the meat counter."

"Can I get a potato?" he asked.

"Why? You don't like potatoes."

"For a pet."



"Sure. Why not."

When we got back to he reunion he was proudly clutching his potato. The Lovely Bride watched him suspiciously as he threaded through the crowd toward her father.

"Grandpa, look, I have a potato. He's my pet. His name is Larry."

My father-in-law eyed his middle-school aged grandson with bemusement. "Larry?"

"Would you like to hold him?"

The Lovely Bride cornered me. "What's he doing?"

"He wanted a potato. For a pet." Even I realized how odd this sounded.

"We only get together with these people once a year. Can't you try to pretend we're a normal family for six lousy hours?"

Meanwhile his younger brother had figured out his brother had something new. "That's not fair!" he howled. "How come he gets a pet potato and I don't?"

The crowd was back to watching us and the Lovely Bride was back to glaring at me.

"You can have one when we get home," I said.

Perhaps not surprisingly we left that family reunion early and after an icily quiet drive home I went to our local grocery to get another potato for the household. A few days later E.'s son demanded a potato of his own. The following month our families went out of town together on vacation and the potatoes came with us, a source of no small irritation to the Lovely Bride and E.'s wife.

Ultimately the potatoes became mottled and disgusting. They ended up in a bonfire.

"Pray for their souls, boys," I told the kids.

"Potatoes don't have souls," said the Lovely Bride.

"Neither do I, but I still hear you praying," I told her.

"Not for your soul," she said.


Anonymous said...

Print these up and sell them. These had better not be plagiarized from some genius unknown hilarious family. I love the insidiousness of the hug attack!!!

Also, you are requested to write a song about Matt Yglesias called "Tiny Wanker" to the refrain of "Tiny Dancer" at RoD.

Righteous Bubba said...

I am now bitter that I did not have a potato as a pet when I was a youngster.

My kid will have what I did not.

Jennifer said...

What kind of potato? I hear Russets are friendlier.

fish said...

I had a potato for a pet when I was young. Surprisingly, it resulted in 3 years of therapy after I stabbed out all the eyes because they were staring at me.
Well they were.

Kathleen said...


the best part was the head fake where I was sure that the potato pet was going to have been Snag's idea! They really are your boys!!!