Friday night is take-out night. It’s a tradition we’ve been observing in our house for years, since our kids were small, and still continues, now that my wife and I are empty nesters.
A few months ago, tired of the usual pizza from our favorite take out place, we turned our attention to the rest of the menu. We decided to try the ribs and a couple of side dishes. We were pleased to find they were delicious, the sauce tangy and sweet and better than a couple of those famous chain restaurants that supposedly specialize in ribs.
This was a pleasant surprise, but the real surprise was the baked potato that came with it. Upon opening the Styrofoam container, my wife said, “oh, wow.”
“What?” I asked.
“Look at that baked potato,” she said.
I looked. It sat there, next to the ribs. At first glance, I noticed nothing unusual about it. “What about it?” I asked.
I looked a little closer and she was right, it was huge. It was about twice the size of a normal baked potato. “Huh,” I said, “you’re right. It is big.”
We ate, and the ribs and the potato and the appetizers were all very good, and we were both full and content. There was enough that we’d have leftovers to reheat. We went about the rest of our evening.
About 9:00, I was watching television and my wife was reading, when she turned to me and said, “Tomorrow you can have what’s left of the ribs for lunch.”
“Okay,” I said.
“And I think I’ll take what’s left of that potato. Maybe I’ll add some bacon bits and cheese and things and make one of those stuffed baked potatoes.”
“That sounds good,” I said.
“There should be enough left over. That potato was so huge.”
“I’m sure there’s plenty enough for your lunch.”
“I still can’t get over how big that potato was,” she added. “I mean, seriously, have you ever seen such a big potato before?”
“I don’t know, I don’t normally pay that close of attention to potatoes.”
“I mean, come on, you couldn’t help but notice it. It was gigantic.”
A few nights later, we were grocery shopping at Woodman’s. We were in the produce department when she said, “I wonder if they have any of those giant potatoes?”
“Giant potatoes?” I asked.
“Yeah, like we had with the ribs the other night.”
We arrived at the stand that held individual potatoes. I took one of the larger ones off of the stand and showed it to her.
“This one’s pretty big,” I said.
“Are you kidding? That’s nowhere near as big as the one we had with the ribs.”
“I don’t know, it’s pretty big.”
“You’re out of your mind,” she said. “It’s not even close.”
We looked some more and there were no giant potatoes. Finally, I said, “Maybe that potato we got the other night was just a freak of nature.”
“Maybe,” my wife dejectedly agreed.
About a week later, we decided on take out again,
“Pizza?” I suggested.
“No, I’m not in the mood for pizza. How about those ribs again?”
Soon I was home with another Styrofoam container of food. I hung up my coat as my wife opened up the container.
“Wow,” she said.
“What is it?” I asked.
“The potato. It’s gigantic.”
I looked and there was no denying, it was enormous. For some reason, I didn’t feel like hearing her go on and on about the size of the potato again.
“Look at it,” she said. “It’s huge! I think it’s even bigger than last week’s!”
“Yeah, so what?”
“I’m just saying, they have such big potatoes. It’s really a value for the price you pay. I wonder where they find them?”
“Did you ever think,” I asked, “that it’s not natural for a potato to be that big? Did you ever think that maybe they’re selling us genetically modified and mutated potatoes?”
“No,” she said, “they’re real. They’re natural.”
“How do you know? “
“I doubt that our local pizza place is genetically engineering giant potatoes.”
“Well, they don’t taste any better than normal potatoes, so I don’t know why it’s such a big deal that they’re so big.”
“Are you kidding? Even you said last week that the potato was delicious.”
“What about those little russet potatoes, or red potatoes? They’re some of the best potatoes ever, and they’re small.”
“What are you talking about? Why are you getting so defensive?’
“I’m just saying, the size of a potato isn’t all that important.”
A couple of nights later, I came out of my office and stepped into our living room. My wife was in her chair, on the phone with somebody, when I heard her say, “It was gigantic. I’ve never seen one that big.”
Then there was silence as whoever was on the other end was talking. Then my wife said, “Really? You know where I can get a big one?”
I’d heard just about enough, when she said, “Well, first thing I’d do is take a paring knife and remove all the skin. Then I’d put it in a pot of boiling water, you know, to soften it up.”
Then I could hear her saying something about soup and carrots and vegetables, but I wasn’t listening, I felt sick to my stomach, and left, looking for a bucket, feeling like I was going to throw up.
The following Friday night, I was downstairs and my wife upstairs. I had the television on, watching a commercial for some natural male enhancement product when I heard my wife come down the steps. I quickly turned the channel.
“Are we getting carry out?” she asked.
“Yeah, “ I said, “I’ll run and get it.” I was having difficulty hiding my depression. “I suppose you want ribs.”
“Nah,” she said, “I’m more in mood for a burger and French fries.”
“French fries?” I perked up. “You’re in the mood for French fries?”
“Yeah, I don’t know why, but French fries sound really good to me.”
I smiled, and suddenly felt better. “I’d be happy to get you some French fries.”
“As long as they stay crisp. I hate it when they get all cold and soggy.”
I drove into the dark night to pick up our order. At the intersection before my destination, I got stopped at a red light behind a large diesel pickup truck, a Ford F-350. It sat high on its frame, elevated by giant monster-truck like tires. From behind the wheel of my Toyota Prius, I had to look up to read the license plate.
It was from Idaho.