When they spackled over the eye buds and put in the Mister Potato Head Eyes, he could see. That made all the difference. He was a potato with vision and wouldn't be confined to a life underground or in a root cellar anymore.
Then he got a nose, a mouth, ears, all of the senses that a human takes for granted. He begged for arms and legs.
He was caked with dirt from the garden, never realized that he had a nice loamy smell before, but he noticed that the people who were making him didn't and he wanted to recreate himself in their image. To him, they were gods.
He needed hands to hold the soap, legs to stand tall so he could reach the hot and cold faucets in the shower. If he didn't get the temperature right, he might be a boiled potato. He didn't realize that it would take 100 degrees Celsius to boil him. He never had high school physics and his creators weren't about to tell him.
They gave him arms and legs and held up the watering can so he could bathe. He scrubbed himself with Irish Spring, then put on his derby and his rakish moustache. The humans looked at their creation and saw that he was alone.
"He needs a wife," said the girl human.
"He doesn't need a wife," said the boy human. "He's a golem. We made him from a potato, a thing of the dirt. Who knew he would become a person?"
"We need a Mrs. Potato Head," said the girl.
"We don't have a Mrs. Potato Head toy," said the boy.
"Let's go shopping," said the girl.
"I don't want to go shopping," said the boy. "Let's try to make him a partner with what we have. We'll make her half an earth creature and half almost human."
"What will the earth half be?" asked the girl.
"I'll use my rubber snake," said the boy.
"I'll use my Barbie for the human half," said the girl. "The snake half should be the bottom and the Barbie should be the top. How will we join them?"
"Duct tape," said the boy.
The girl didn't say anything, but in her heart, she felt it wouldn't work.
Mister Potato Head and the snake woman lived together for a week, but they couldn't have children. For one thing, nobody can have children in a week and they were looking under cabbage leaves for them because that's where
their human creators told them babies come from. It wouldn't matter anyway, because neither of them had the right equipment to do the job.
The Girl said, "It isn't working. He needs another partner. It's nobody's fault. It's just not a good year for Cabbage Patch Kids."
But the boy still didn't want to go shopping, so he ordered a Mrs. Potato Head Kit online.
They sat Mister Potato Head and the snake woman down and explained to them about the new wife.
"I'm going to have two wives," said Mister Potato Head. "How cool is that?"
"No way," said the snake woman. "I'm going to go live with the angel on top of the tree." She was livid. In truth, she was always a little pale, because her top half was Nordic Barbie.
When the kit came, they made a partner for Mister Potato Head from another potato. They wanted to scoop and spackle her eye buds, but Mrs. Potato Head wouldn't allow it.
"That's how potatoes have babies," she said.
Suddenly, the boy and the girl knew where they went wrong and exchanged sheepish grins.
Mister Potato Head took his new wife to see the snake woman, but his ex talked his new squeeze into eating a red ornament off the tree. Then Mrs. Potato Head talked her husband into eating one. They liked them. Pretty
soon, they stripped the tree and were barfing up glass shards all over the floor.
The boy and girl were not pleased. They banished the potatoes from the house and tossed them out into the snow. The snake woman and the angel never died. To this day, they live in pine trees in the forest. When you hear the cry of a screech owl in the night, it's the snake woman in the throes of passion, or throttling anunwary soul. She makes the same sound for both.
John A. Ward was born on Staten Island, attended Wagner College in the early 60's, sold his first poem to Leatherneck magazine, and became a scientist. He is now in San Antonio running, writing and living with his dance partner. Links to his work can be found at Booger Jack.