Pepitas, El Papa y Papas


Hooray! It’s feelin’ kinda Fall out there, am I right, or am I right, peeps?! I do love me a change of season. I was thinking about this just the other day, when I was staring out of the window instead of doing my grading, eating a pound of pumpkin seeds. I love pumpkin seeds, or “pepitas”, and my gorging on them is not just a seasonal thing. Year round I’ll get me a bag, chose a big fatty, lick off all the salt, and then crunch through the shell to to delicately flavored, almost buttery “nut” inside. Yum. Unfortunately, I have no self control, so I usually eat so many in one sitting that I make myself sick. I have also struggled with excessive blueberry gratification, but a particularly nasty reaction to a pint and a half indulgence pretty much cured me of that addiction. Anyhoo, I think that soon I’m going to have to cut back on the pepitas, even though I am loving them. My jaw hurts, and the sharp shells make shrapnel shards in my stomach, causing some unpleasant adventures in Pottyland. (Betcha didn’t think that’s where I was going with this little tidbit, did ya? Sadly, no matter where I set out, the toilet is where I usually end up.)

So anyway, I was eating my way through a small mountain of pepitas, staring out the window, thinking about fall harvest, and the harvest moon, and Neil Young, and the organization Young Life, which is an group that preaches Jesus to teenagers on public school campuses, and how Billy Ray was a preacher’s son, and how Billy Ray Cyrus’s son is a daughter named Miley, and that she don’t wear no clothes, and that it is weird that in the last couple of weeks, she’s been all over the tv, getting lots of coverage (ironic, considering her disdain for covering up), second only to the Pope.

I bring up the Pope as more than just a segue between one small, spicy, Latin American treat to another. I am confused by the Papacy. I don’t understand what the different hats signify, or why if there is a “Holy See”, and a touch from the Pope is holy and healing, why are most powerful smells the work of the devil. I don’t understand if the Pope’s word is supposed to be from God’s mouth, or if the Pope just studies and studies, and then tells everybody what he believes is the Truth. I don’t understand the Vatican, and why it gets to have special laws that exempt it from all sorts of other laws. I don’t have anything against Papa himself; he seems like an extraordinary man, and I think he does a lot of good, even though I don’t agree with all of his policies. I was surprised to see how revered he is in this country. I just didn’t know he was so popular – or should I say “popeular”?

In Spanish, they call the Pope “El Papa”, which means ‘the father’. “La Papa”, however, does not mean ‘lady father’, as one might infer. It means ‘the potato’.

Pope Potato el_papa_potato_pope_900355-215x300

Potatoes are delicious, but they can also be scary. The whole idea of Mr. Potato Head is frightening – nobody wants a potato for a head. It’s not as bad if you have a body like a tuber – check out my own tubular torso, circa yesterday – swimsuit spud – but there are problems that remain unforeseen until you actually become a potato. potato-problem And that’s just the beginning of the potato problem -the ‘tater tot’, if you will. Imagine the horror that would befall you if you ended up in a potato nightmare…papas Kafka-esque. Imagine being trapped in that particular potato vine, unable to escape, running in circles like a yamster on a wheel…

Checkout this pre-Halloween Super Scary Spud Story, “Subsoil”, by Nicholas Baker, below. It’s the third story, and it begins at 29.27. I know I’m asking you to work a little for this… but it’s worth it. The story “Cretan Love Song”, by Jim Shepard, which precedes this story is great, too, and is a really wonderful example of effective use of the tricky second person point of view, making this short a trick and a treat, but it didn’t exactly fit into the theme of my post, so I won’t mention it.*

*If, however, you were just so intrigued by the subtle way I worked that story into this post, and you were curious to see what it would relate to, check this out:  Fascinating, non?

Happy almost Fall!