My Dad has always loved a good laugh.
He is where I get my love of puns and “dad” jokes. Perhaps his greatest joke of all, though, was one that involved produce from the family garden.
Sometime around 1987, the family sits down to dinner. Maybe it was meat loaf. Maybe it was baked chicken. Maybe it was something entirely different. But what I do know is that the meal was something that would feature mashed potatoes as a side dish.
Now, I love mashed potatoes. Not as much as my sister, Mary, did as a kid, but to this day I do love the humble spud, boiled and smooshy smashed with butter and milk.
My father sets before me a heaping bowl of mashed potatoes, with a large pat of butter prominent in the center. Melting. Cue Homer Simpson drooling in anticipation….
Dad says something along the lines of–“Want some mashed potatoes?”
A serving spoon rests next to the bowl. I pick it up, splatter one, then two spoonfuls on my late. My glee distracts me from the consistency of the stuff and my father’s twinkle in his eye and tight lipped expression–all of these things should have tipped me off that something was amiss. Did I think to serve my brother, Pat (then 4 or so), or pass it to my Mom? No, I did not.
My childhood greed instead compelled me to shove a heaping spoonful into my mouth, start chewing and then immediately reach for another before I’d even finished with the first bite.
My spoon must have clattered to the floor as the realization hit me. These were not potatoes.
They. Were. Turnips.
Mashed turnips are all that is wrong with the world. They are bitter and flavorless at once. Not sure how that’s possible but my shock and horror went unnoticed as my father’s laughter erupted from his spot next to me at the table.
It was an epic joke. I’ve almost forgiven him for it.
Just kidding–he passed me his napkin–and I laughed along with him. My dad’s humor and pranks are never intended to hurt anyone. If you didn’t know already, he is an inordinately kind man.
Kindness aside–you’ll note that the picture below has the word “turnips” crossed out.
This picture is the plan that I worked out with my Dad during a recent visit where together we wrote the names of the various crops I could grow, and where we might put them in the family garden in my backyard.
Turnips were a suggestion from my Dad. I informed him of course that the foul turnip does not even deserve a place written out on a paper representation of my fall garden. To quote dear friend Krishnia Parker–I hate them with the fire of a thousand Suns.
So yes, Father, I have forgiven you for your epic turnip prank. In fact, you’ve even inspired me for eventual jokes on my own sweet, unsuspecting children.
But I will not forget.
Love ya Pops…