No, this is not going to be a lush photo montage of the up-close and earthy beauty of the humble potato. God knows there are a thousand more talented photo-bloggers out there who are setting up that very photo shoot right now. I, on the other hand, am more concerned about the enduring humor of the potato.
Remember the Dan Quayle spelling debacle? No? You are such a whipper snapper. Back in the Bush Sr. years (cue inspiring patriotic music), his VP was a youngster named Dan Quayle, who famously misspelled the word “potato” by adding an “e” at the end. To make things worse (or better, if you were not a Bush/Quayle fan), he was flexing his spelling muscles in an elementary classroom at the time. Funny stuff!
But my favorite Funny Potato event hearkens back to my teenage years, in a small town in Northern Michigan, where there were strictly limited pathways toward earning the acceptance of one’s peers. You could be a jock, a cheerleader, a slut/suspected slut, or a burnout (please view the TV series “Freaks and Geeks” to witness the carnage). I was smart, and did things like performing in plays. Basically the kiss of death, socially.
At any rate, my tiny peer group included a handful of us who founded an organization called the Committee to Stop Discrimination Against Crazy People, better known to us and no one else as the CSDACP. Yes, there were membership cards. Of course, we had staff sponsors, because teachers love weird kids. We planned events. Christmas caroling in October, that sort of thing. We tried to put on a dance, but my passionate pleas fell on deaf ears at the student council meetings, so we had to scale back the grandeur of our ventures.
Predictably, I suggested the natural next alternative after a dance: Spud Day! The object? To get folks to bring a potato to class and simply have it out on one’s desk during each period. It showed my lack of fundraising expertise, I admit, but my heart still swells with pride when I recall the joy of seeing a random potato here and there on desks that day. No one really got it, of course, but that was part of the beauty of it.
Many years have passed since those halcyon days of the early CSDACP. I am not a 12th-grade caliber basketball player, and neither are the guys who were back then. My IQ is still hanging in there, though. And I continue to revere the potato as one of our inherently humorous national treasures (simmer down, Ireland–if I recall correctly, the o’spud originated on this side of the Atlantic).
Watch “Freaks and Geeks.” Really.