I run my fingers under cold water and sigh. My potato peeler has rubbed my forefinger raw. I rummage through the drawer and find a sharper peeler. This should help.
I sit back down at the kitchen table and notice the half-peeled potato lying there in a mound of its own skin is blinking at me with all its remaining eyes. And then, it speaks.
"Why on earth are you smiling?" it asks me.
"I'm smiling because I am happy. It is Thanksgiving. I'm going to have a fun afternoon with my family. And not only that, I've been awarded the sacred trust of the mashed potato for the fifteenth year in a row."
The potato rolls its eyes at me -- all eight of them. "Are you kidding? You're still telling yourself that?"
"What do you mean?" I lower my brows at the cynical spud and wait for its answer.
"I mean, you don't think it's a little suspicious that the somber closed-door ritual during which your mother and sisters get together and decide who wins the 'sacred trust of the mashed potato' always ends up pointing to you? And you don't think that has anything to do with the fact that the rest of them don't relish the thought of peeling ten pounds of potatoes on Thanksgiving morning?"
"But--" I stammer. "But they said it's a secret ballot voting ceremony rich in tradition and symbolism and mystical influences -- like something right out of a Dan Brown novel."
My voice trails off at the end. I am less sure of myself than I was a moment ago. I suppose it's possible the potato has a point.
Its eyes soften with sympathy. "It's really all about the pies."
"What?" I say. "I've never even made a pie."
"Exactly," it tells me. "Potato duty is pie penance. You refused to let your mother teach you to make a pie when you were ten years old. Everything that has happened since has stemmed from that one stubborn moment."
My eyes mist with tears. I quickly brush them away. "I tried to make that darn pie," I say. The crust stuck fast to the wax paper. I couldn't get it off. I tried and I tried but it just came to pieces. While Gretchen's crust -- " I choke on the memory. "Perfect," I whisper. "Always perfect."
"Sshhh. There there," comforts the potato. "The truth is painful, but you have to face it if you are ever going to move past it."
"Is this an intervention?" I ask.
The potato ignores my question and presses on. "Let's be realistic," it says. "What exactly do you put in your mashed potatoes?"
"Butter, salt, pepper, and milk."
"Do you really truly believe -- deep down in your rational soul -- that your combination of these ingredients is so spectacular that it can't be reproduced by anyone but you?"
A feeling of desperation builds within me. "But-- They said my potatoes were magical," I whine.
"I know. I know."
I pick up the potato in one hand and my peeler in the other. "Thank you," I say. "Thank you for opening my eyes."
"It's what we do best." It closes four of its eight eyes -- a potato's attempt at a wink.
"You do realize I'm still going peel you the rest of the way and put you in that pot?" I say.
"Yes," said the potato. "It is my destiny." It closes its remaining eyes then adds, "And YOURS."
I pull the peeler gently, reverently along the potato-turned-analyst until it lies skinless in my palm. Then I lift the starchy white orb close to my lips and whisper, "Yes, my little friend. This may be my destiny. But you know something else?" I take the tip of my peeler and let it hover above the last of its eyes. "I will never -- ever -- have to bake a pie!"
A Friendly Guide to Navigating this BLOG
If you have visited this blog before, you will notice I've made some changes. A Pen in My Hand is going to be dedicated to lighthearted anecdotes and whatever else I feel like writing. I have started another blog for topics that are more serious/spiritual in nature. See the link in the sidebar to visit that blog.
I sincerely hope you find something here worth reading; but if not, take heart. There are about six billion other blogs out there to choose from.