Oh, hi," I half-shouted across the yard as my neighbor walked by with his dog, a white poodle, and waved at me. It was getting dark, practically dusk, but I could still see the funny look on his face as his stride sped up ever so slightly. I wanted to explain, run down the driveway after him and tell him that I'm really not weird, I was just down on my hands and knees in the flower bed by the kitchen window digging a hole with a butter knife underneath a boxwood so I could bury half a potato wrapped in a paper towel.
That's ... not ... weird.
It is George's fault. Okay, so maybe not his fault, so much, as it is because of George that I was in the flower bed burying half a potato. He gave me the idea, just the other day, as we offhandedly discussed the trials and tribulations of a wart, specifically, a menacing little wart that my son has near his elbow that, darn it, wouldn't go away.
We didn't start out talking about warts. We were talking about duct tape, and how everybody knows duct tape can fix just about anything. In fact, I confessed, after spending near about $50 on store-bought freeze-off stuff and drops and cream and tiny pads, I put duct tape on my son's wart.
Maybe we weren't patient enough, but it wasn't working.
Surprisingly, George didn't seem to think I was crazy at all, or at least he didn't say it out loud. Instead, he told me about how his mama or his grandmama -- I can't remember -- used to rub a potato on a wart and then bury the potato in the yard.
"Did it work?" I asked.
"Sure did," said George. Hmmmm.
So the next day when my 16-year-old came into the kitchen and grabbed the roll of duct tape, I half-hollered, "No! Wait!"
I had another idea.
Thankfully, our children are familiar with my "ideas" and have resigned to the fact that their mother can, on occasion, appear odd, if not slightly disturbed, but harmless all the same. They humor me.
This time, however, I suspected my son was a little afraid. Maybe it was the look on his face that gave him away -- that why-is-my-my-mother-cutting-a-potato-in-half-and-rubbing-it-on-my-arm look. It's a quite interesting one. I think he was actually okay, however, until I uttered the next 10 words: Now I have to go bury it in the yard.
"Mom, don't be superstitious," he said. "Just throw it away." He was right. It was silly to be superstitious ... silly ... so I threw it in the garbage can right there in front of him, then waited until I heard his footsteps going back up the stairs to dig it right back out and wrap it in a paper towel. I couldn't risk it.
And that's how I ended up in the near dark in the flower bed in the front yard skulking underneath a boxwood with a butter knife scaring the neighbor with the poodle.
The next morning he came downstairs.
"Uh, mom," he said. "Guess what?"
George was right.
I wondered, would it have worked if I hadn't buried the potato, just left it in the garbage can? I guess I'll never know.
Next time, though, I think I'll bury it in the backyard.
Sorry, man with the poodle. I'm really not weird.
Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.