Progress and Potatoes (2024)

Please note this is a humour piece which is not something people may want to read depending on the state of your country and how demoralized/angry you may be about the state of the world. Seriously.

And so it was that the two old women (who would not admit to being old at all and who had all their wits about them and none of that fading flowers of their youth hanging about haunting them and making people feel sorry for them) decided to go to The Red Lobster restaurant.

This was because the fatter of the two hadn’t been there in seven years and she had fond memories of it all, particularly their buttery biscuits and plump shrimp with coconut sauce and strawberry daiquiris, and it appeared that they were going to be shutting down the whole Red Lobster chain of restaurants one day soon because of the dismal economy and impending depression and who in their right mind goes out to dinner these days what with world war 3 about to happen and food banks on the brink of bankruptcy?

But it was decided that one must always do one’s duty to one of the last hurrahs of a generation raised on Red Lobster and “the seafood lover in you” as the jingle goes. A person can go out once every six months or so can’t they?!! they rationalized to themselves feebly/fiercely. And so off they went somewhat guiltily/happily to this particular last hurrah.

Well, that was the plan. A quick little drive.

Yes—A quick little drive to the outskirts area of the grey city while conversing about how this younger generation was doomed to a technological hellworld of fascist frumduggery and asinine artificial intelligence. There was some argument over whether it was asinine or arsenine but it was finally determined that arsenine was an aromatic heterocyclic compound. This was important to know because they were both addicted to cryptic crosswords and not knowing if AI was asinine or arsenine was of utmost importance.

Yes, it was true they did have to drag out their horrible cellphone to google the matter but they argued that they could just have easily brought the Oxford Dictionary with them so such horrible contraptions “really” weren’t needed. Really.

And they would have also just stopped at the corner and asked someone where they were when the time came when they seem to have gotten lost although there was some discussion as to whether they were lost or not. Asking someone on the street had always been a reasonable time-tested approach but everybody walking down the street was on a contraption and nobody was paying attention so of course it is entirely understandable why they used their contraption’s GPS Siri creature to tell them where they were and how to get to where they were going.

Using GPS was perfectly understandable under the circ*mstances because nobody printed paper maps anymore and even if they did they were building up the city so dang fast (to convert it into a 15-minute globalist monstrosity aka prison for the mooing herds), that one wouldn’t have enough time to list all the streets anyway. So that need for the contraption was perfectly reasonable.

In a peculiar little way it was most helpful when it screeched at them about Icy Roads ahead in 90 degree sunny weather because that certainly validated their opinion of Siri and her arrogance. Which of course simply fed into their lack of confidence in the contraption when they came to the corner of Belfast and that street named after some saint (which makes no sense because there was indeed nothing saintly about the place or the people along that particular strip of consumerist hell).

The thing about that corner was they both agreed that Siri was emphatically wrong about turning right instead of left. “See! Glitches! Always glitches!” So they turned left and got lost. The fatter one insisted it wasn’t because they were lost, it was more that they had lost their bearings. Well that was the wrong thing to say because neither one of them knew the origin of the expression of losing one’s “bearings”.

So they googled it while sitting in the parking lot of some place they’d never seen before in all their natural lives and never wanted to see again apparently. They were immediately tickled pink to learn that bearings are a “verbal noun from bear (v.). The meaning “direction or point of the compass in which an object is seen or is moving” is from 1630s; to take (one’s) bearings is from 1711. The mechanical sense of “part of a machine that ‘bears’ the friction” is from 1791.”

Now they knew. And that was important. Of course they also knew they’d forget it rather rapidly due to their advanced age which they would never admit to but that was not the point at all. They both agreed that they would have to look it up in the Oxford dictionary when they went home because it would be far far more informative in a book than on a screen. Of course they “say” the entire dictionary is on-line but it isn’t because they proved that when researching nicknames for sailors from Bulgaria just last month. They agreed to look up “bearings” in the big book as they found their way back to Belfast and that street named after some saint. They then turned right. They did not speak again until they wandered through the front door of the Red Lobster.

It was not busy which was quite a relief given they were about 49 minutes and 23 seconds late for their reservation. Or at least that is what Siri told them.

“Did you ever wonder,” said the fat one as they were shown their way to the tiny little cramped booth amid a sea of empty huge booths and open tables. “Did you ever wonder about those lobsters in the tank at the front?”

And the skinnier one said she hadn’t much thought about those lobsters and why on earth would they be in the least bit interesting at all? “Well, it’s not the lobsters now per se,” grumbled the fatter one, “but what it will morph into now. Can’t you see it… They want us all eating crickets. Do you suppose they’ll have restaurants with tanks of crickets at the front one day soon? Or centipedes? Just so we can pick the bug we’re going to munch on? How will they manage that!! Do you know how many bugs it takes to make a lobster!!! Who has that kind of time?!”

“I wouldn’t put it past them,” said the skinnier one while the fatter one eventually found herself looking at the tiniest baked pototo she had ever seen. It was sitting in a white dish with salt on top.

“This potato is making me depressed,” she said.

“What was that word we were going to look up,” asked the skinnier one?

“I don’t know. What does it matter?! What does anything matter?! Just look at this potato! It is just sitting there. Just… sitting… there… in that white dish. The world doesn’t make any sense anymore. We’re sitting here in this cramped little booth with a hundred other empty big tables and no place to put our purses and this potato is just sitting there as if it had some reason to call itself a potato. This isn’t a potato. This is… I don’t know.”

“Bindings? Bandings? Dammit… what was it?”

“Ask Siri, I’m sure she was listening to the conversation,” muttered the fatter one who was still staring at the potato. “It’s because there are two of us and someone was told to put two people at a two people table even if there are a million other empty tables. This! THIS is why the world is going to hell. It is not flexible. Nobody knows how to colour outside the circles anymore. Nobody is adaptable anymore. Nobody freakin’ cares! We’re all going to die horribly because nobody knows that two people can sit at a four person booth just as easily if not more easily than a two person booth. If we can’t even figure that out, how the hell are we going to manage mass immigration, world wars, famines, climate change, complete global financial meltdown and the consumption of crickets?!!!! HOW?”

“Eat your potato. It is just a potato.”

“See, that’s where you’re wrong you know. This is not just a potato. This is a two-person potato given a four-person booth. Why would that be? Why is this pathetic little thing automatically given more room than we are given? Is it more important?”

“It is just a potato in a dish. Maybe they didn’t have little dishes.”

“No. They didn’t have big potatoes. They forgot to turn on the enlarge button on their bio-3D-photocopy machine.”

“That doesn’t exist and you know it.”

“It’s shrinkflation. They think we won’t notice. We’re paying the same price for this shrunken excuse for a potato as we used to pay for a real-sized one. Well I for one notice.”

“It is good that you’ve noticed. Can we go now?” asked the now exasperated and exhausted skinnier one.

“In fact, if you think about it, both the cricket and the lobster are arthropods. It is entirely possible that crickets are just lobster shrinkflation.”

And so it went. Eventually, after all that, they discovered how to get out of the parking lot which helped a little bit to assuage the fatter one’s existential despair and the skinnier one’s frantic search for the word they were going to look up. She made it all the way to banality and was on the way to bannock by the time they got home.

“All I remember is that when you get to Belfast, turn right,” said the fatter one.

Then of course, banality/bannock/belfast didn’t matter. They couldn’t have cared less. They’d forgotten all about it looking for the house keys.

Eventually the skinnier one slept soundly, content to know she at least remembered that she had wanted to look up a word even if she didn’t remember the word and probably never would.

The fatter one however spent a restless night as she dreamed of potatoes in empty snowy fields all night long.

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Progress and Potatoes (2024)
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