Potato grudges


When I was young I had a wart on my palm. Mother cut a potato in half, rubbed the wart, put the two halves of the potato back together with toothpicks, and threw it away. If you never see the potato again, she said, your wart will disappear.


I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look in that potato’s eyes as my mother stabbed it with those picks and then casually dropped it in the trash. I imagine it carried its grudge all the way to the city dump. Buried under garbage, it sprouted revenge. After writing its story in pollen, the potato wrapped it in some small white flowers, pushed the little envelops up through the trash, and waited for a passing bumblebee to stop and carry its tale of woe into the world. In this way, I believe it could spread its hard feeling.


My wart disappeared, but for decades now I have looked into the eyes of potatoes wondering if they recognize me, fearing they are related to that spurned spud. I suspect it was Thanksgiving 2010 when it happened. I pulled out a bag of potatoes and placed it on the counter. Then I busied myself at the sink, clearing out a spot so I could peel the potatoes. No one else was in the kitchen, but I had that odd feeling that someone was staring at me. I whirled around: nothing but that bag of potatoes. So I whirled the other way and picked up a small paring knife. Then I whirled back to face the bag. Protruding from the mesh was a small sprout like a pale white finger, pointing at me, accusing me. Dizzy from my whirling, I reached over and broke off the finger. That was my mistake. Now I couldn’t tell which potato was angry with me.



I couldn’t throw all of them out, so I took them out of the bag. Lined up next to the sink in their starched brown jackets, they all looked the same. As I washed them, I tried to appear calm and avert my eyes. Each one stared at me with a blank look that unsettled me because it reminded me of my husband, sitting in the living room on the couch, watching football. Was he part potato? He was getting lumpier with age. My mind reeled as my thoughts whirled; then I reminded myself that I had lived with him wart-free for thirty years; he couldn’t be related to that potato of long ago. That calmed me down. After I peeled the potatoes, I boiled them in hopes of softening them toward me. But I was so worked up by then that I mashed them in a frenzy before the meal.


Soon after that, I got a wart on my palm again. I don’t remember where on my palm the wart was when I was a young girl, but my imagination has been insisting all morning that this wart is in the very same place.


I’ve tried salicylic acid and vinegar-soaked cotton, and considered duct tape. Even though I fear revenge, using a potato appeals to me. My online research has revealed that many people use potatoes for wart removal, so maybe my story about how that childhood potato passed on its grudge is all nonsense. More likely all potatoes carry a grudge. That’s what comes from being so thin-skinned.


27 thoughts on “Potato grudges

  1. Very entertaining post. Thanks for the Sunday morning giggle. Duct tape definitely works and there are no lingering eyeballs to haunt you.

  2. First, eye have to say something about how you still amaze me when I come around your neck of the woods. I know you’re probably going to say something in a creative way, and I know you’re probably going to squeeze some serious truth in-between all the silly, and I know you’re very likely going to use humor like a weapon that leaves me aching with smiles. But even knowing all these things in advance, you still manage to surprise me. You’re just that good. Stop it already. My face hurts from smiling. Don’t make me point my potatoes at you, or tell them where you live.

    As to the wart issue, I am sorry to say that my youngest son fought an ongoing battle with warts on his hands and fingers during his adolescent years, and now, at the age of 32, he stills sometimes has the same issue crop up now and again. The thing that worked best for him was good old-fashioned white chalk. Yep. Rubbed directly on the wart every day, often several times a day. He toted a piece of chalk around in his pocket. But this method sometimes took several weeks to see results (same as the duct tape method).

    His other method of choice was the freezing route, for more instantaneous results (in case you happen to have a hot date lined up with your potato mate). After he got married, his wife, (who only believes in homeopathic or natural remedies, and forbade the freezing remedy), introduced him to a product called Forces of Nature Wart Control, and now he swears by the stuff. I think the main ingredients are tea tree oil and fish oil, but I could be wrong about that — I’m sure google could better answer that question. Anyway, according to him, after his first treatment with the homeopathic stuff about six years ago, he’s never had a recurrence. If you are fresh out of potatoes and duct tape, you might want to consider going the homeopathic route, which he said showed results in 5-7 days.

    • For some reason, I have an image in my head of you pointing a bag of potatoes in my direction and singing, “The eyes of Texas are upon you.” 🙂

      Thanks for the wart removal ideas. I went to the Forces of Nature website and their wart removal medicine looks good. If none of the cheap methods work, I may try it.

  3. I had a couple of finger-warts treated years ago by a dermatologist, and in addition to the freezing, over-the counter goo, medical tape, etc., he had me take Vitamin A.This was to boost the immune system, which he said is that the only thing that really cures warts. In his view, the other treatments exist only to irritate the skin so badly that your immune response takes over to treat it. If that reasoning is correct, then the potato worked because it irritated you! So perhaps it deserved its fate.

    I’m not sure, though, why its relatives came back to irritate you again.

  4. Margie

    I’m just going to try to forget I read this post! I still have half a box of garden potatoes to eat before spring, and that will not happen if I start to look deep into their eyes, or ponder the little shoots that are starting to appear!

  5. I love the potato idea, but they are one of my favorite things to eat so they might be mad a t me, too: unless being eaten fulfills their life plan and being used as a wart remover doesn’t. Mediplast works pretty good unless a wart is too stubborn and needs to be frozen off. some are tough – I had one on my pinky that was frozen off 10 times before it finally gave up. Mediplast is easy: cut a little piece of the special sticky-sided felt out in the shape of the wart, stick it on & cover it up with a bandaid. Forget it for awhile. Reapply as needed and eventually it works. If the felt hangs over onto fresh, unwarty parts of your skin it eats it up so read the directions! Good luck!

  6. My husband grew up in NW Arkansas so he knows a lot about things like warts and remedies. He says you got that wart from playing with toad frogs that peed on you. He suggests you stop the practice.

  7. Have read this a couple more times since the first time I read it, and I think it’s a classic. A true masterpiece. This isn’t the place to discuss karma, or the place of potatoes in the food chain… thank you so much, yearstricken, for your contribution to fine literature.

  8. Gosh, who knew I could come to the comments column here for so much good medical advice!!

    I do wonder if the combined effect of rubbing (increasing circulation on and around) the wart plus applying something that tends to block external influences (chalk, oils, ointments, potato starch, adhesives) is the magic combination here for knocking them out. Had a little heel wart years ago that was treated in the same way (the oil of Mom’s choice was castor oil) and it too was defeated.

    All of that aside, I’d keep my own eyes on those spuds lest they sneak up on you. I begin to wonder if there’s an opera in it: picture a robust, if pasty, character belting out the aria “Vendetta! O perfido assassino di patate, avrò la mia vendetta!”

    • I think you are right about the cause behind so many cures.

      You must write the story for the food opera and have your husband write the music. Swords would be nice, for slicing up the villainous, vengeful potato. I promise I will come to see it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s