Sunday, September 10, 2006


My friend RC has what some people call an old soul. We used to think her soul had lived through the Great Depression, because, despite her solid, middle-class upbringing that met her every need, she has a tendency to hoard and an intense, knee-jerk reaction against any kind of waste. For example, RC loves Arby's sauce. It may be her favorite food. Every time she goes to Arby's she carries out a couple of handfuls of Arby's sauce, which she deposits in a drawer in her kitchen. She never eats the Arby's sauce, even though she loves it more than just about anything. She just has the Arby's sauce. Like maybe someday the planet will just stop producing food, and then, she will have the Arby's sauce to live on for another day or two, while the rest of us starve, and won't we be sorry we laughed at her and the Arby's sauce. I once tried to throw out the Arby's sauce because she had so much of it and she never eats it and the whole situation was getting ridiculous. I've never seen anyone quite as frantic as RC was as she dug through the garbage to retrieve every last package. I was convinced that she must have seen times of great need in order to cultivate such instincts.

More recently, evidence has come to light suggesting that her soul might be even older than we first though. RC has demonstrated some unusual behavior that leads me to believe her soul dates back to the Irish Potato Famine. I first began to form my suspicions when she bought a 5 pound bag of quicksale (translation: nearly rotten) potatoes at the grocery store for something like 32 cents. Now, RC doesn't really like potatoes, but to pass up the opportunity to buy 5 pounds of food for 32 cents goes against everything in her nature. So she carted the potatoes home and relegated them to a corner, where they sat for a while. They sat in the corner for so long that they began to sprout, at which point RC grew very alarmed, and pulled out the bag of potatoes for what became The Week of Endless Potatoes. Determine not to let the cheap, rotting potatoes go to waste, she put potatoes in everything. Potato salad, potato pancakes, homemade potato chips. What really got me was when she started making things like potato pasta and potato sandwiches. Not terribly appealing. She ate so many potatoes that she made herself sick and swore that she would never buy another 5 pound bag of potatoes again.

A few months ago RC got married. While talking to her new husband, I mentioned the Week of Endless Potatoes, and he commented that she had just bought a 5 pound bag of potatoes the previous week. He also mentioned something about potato and mushroom stew. I truly believe that only a soul that had once hungered specifically for potatoes could accomplish such feats.

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