Thursday, April 18, 2013

Potato


A short story:

Is that what my life had become? I smeared sour cream and butter into the steaming flesh of my lunch. A baked potato.  Actually, my disgust was better expressed with a question mark.  A baked potato?

You spend years of your life trying to learn the things you need to make a difference in the world and at some point it turns into this.  A baked potato? I picked bacon bits off my baggy shirt. It concealed my growing pot belly, a result of cramming as much artery clogging crap as I could into the innocuous baked potato from the local deli.  Every Wednesday a baked potato became the pinnacle of my week.

And who could blame me, the potatoes were as good as they looked on those Wendy's commercials.  But better because they came from a local deli.  Besides, eating a baked potato was better than my lunch most days; a cold leftover pasta or some sort of microwaved tv dinner.

It was wiping the cheddar from my face as a glob of sour cream splattered on my plate that I realized my meaningful social interactions had whittled their way down to nothing.  I would smile and say hi to people at the office but I largely focused on my computer screen.  As if that was enough.

A brief conversation with the guy at the delicatessen did not make me feel better, "I love these baked potatoes, they are great."  As if they were.

The guy smiled wanly and gave a gruff grunt of some sort.  Something along the lines of, "you look so goddamned professional, why don't you do something with your life."

And at about that moment I was feeling the same way. What the hell was I doing with my life? Watching my face get plumper yet somehow saggier was not an adequate answer.

Which is about the time I really found myself having a deep crisis.  So deep in fact that I did nothing about it.  I didn't quit my job.  I didn't go on a diet.  I didn't exercise.  And I sure as hell didn't go fall in love.  Instead, I languished.  I complained as if it was to be expected from life.  As if life didn't really hand you lemons, but a steaming baked potato and all the toppings.

That was about it.  That was the best it was going to get.  A god damned baked potato?

They were good though.