The other night, Sheri and I argued over potatoes. She had made meatloaf. It was a great meatloaf. Boiled potatoes sat on the side.
As I forked potato and sour cream into my mouth, I said something like, “I’m not supposed to eat potatoes.”
This led to a discussion of our diets, our menus. Somewhere along the line, we misunderstood each other. Sheri thought I was criticizing our eating habits and blaming her for them (I wasn’t). I thought she didn’t believe that potatoes were bad for me. It’s true, I wasn’t explaining myself well. Sheri knows that the strange head trips I’ve had since childhood – during which the world slows its motion and objects shine brighter and my balance teeters and I become ravenous – have to do with blood sugar. To prevent my spells, I need to eat mostly protein, though some fats are okay, too, and stay away from sugars – especially high fructose corn syrup and other items high on the glycemic index. Among these are potatoes.
But when I said that potatoes had too much sugar, Sheri didn’t believe me. Her newspaper editor’s hat appeared, pulled low over her skeptical gaze.
And I remembered another time when she didn’t believe me. The details here are fuzzy, too. It had to do with a big auto crash at an intersection near the Bitterroot River in Montana, where we used to live. Driving by one day, I mentioned the smash-up. For some reason, Sheri didn’t believe it had happened. Maybe because she hadn’t heard of it elsewhere or seen it in a newspaper. A week or so later, we drove by again, this time with our friend Bob McGiffert, a curmudgeon and professor emeritus at the local university. A true gray eminence. He mentioned the accident. Sheri said, “Oh,” and she believed him. Stupefied, I protested.
Ever since, when we’ve disagreed over a fact, we’ve said to each other, “Let’s ask Bob.”
Bob died this past Christmas. He was a great good friend, among the most big-hearted men I’ve known. We miss him and his feisty, curmudgeonly zest. When we disagree, we still want to ask him – at least in spirit – to be our Google, our arbiter, to know who is right.
But we couldn’t do that over our potatoes. So I wondered aloud why Sheri had been willing to believe Bob that long-ago day, but not to believe her husband. Why is it that if Bob were here, and he said something about potatoes and blood sugar, she’d believe him?
“It’s because he was older, wasn’t it?” I said.
And she said, “That’s a blog post.”