It was cold again today. So cold I wore my gloves and one of my students’ hats all morning. But I won’t regale you with long descriptions of the cold here anymore since maybe by now you’ve got the picture of how cold it is and are rolling your eyes at my inability to deal. I will, however, put a shameless plug in for my own cunning craftiness and show you proudly how, in fact, I am dealing.
Here’s the secret: potatoes. Back in the pioneering days, people were creative about staying warm. Maybe they heated bricks or something, or sacks of seeds. I don’t know. I think I’d make a good one of those pioneers because today I stole potatoes. I stole two of them, wrapped in tin foil, from the lunch line in the cantina today and I used them to warm myself up. I held one against my face and put the other underneath my jacket and spent this whole afternoon nice and cozy with tubers.
Originally, I stole just the one. And it wasn’t really stealing since it was quite acceptable for me to take one and put it on my plate and act as if I were going to eat it. It is a potato, afterall. It was the second potato that was a bit trickier, and I’d like to say a big “thank you” to Dennis for being the unknowing accomplice in my thievery. (Dennis was substituting today, which explains why he was able to help me be a criminal.)
You see, Dennis didn’t grab a potato when he went through the lunch line. This meant one potato was, theoretically, his. Therefore, after a half hour of quality time with my tinfoiled baked potato, I imagined that it would soon lose its heat. Not able to bear the fact that I would be experiencing the bitter Brazilian cold again, I devised a plan to sneak up to the line, and grab a second potato. At first, Dennis wasn’t in my plans. I was acting on my own, for myself, as all natural thieves do. I observed the lunch ladies carefully, hoping against hope they would turn their backs simultaneously to the starch selection, and when they did, I hopped up and grabbed the first potato I could, terribly disappointed that it wasn’t as hot as the original. But I couldn’t be picky. Beggars can’t be choosers, and all.
Nervous that I’d be caught, I placed the goods immediately on Dennis’ tray. Thus, I now had a partner in crime. If they dragged me away in cuffs, they’d drag him away too. I wouldn’t go down alone. Maybe it wasn’t fair for me to bring him into the crime world; I take full responsibility for that and accept the fact that I was involving an innocent bystander and fellow cantina mate in illegal activity. But whatever.
It happened that after a minute or two, with the potato sitting lonely on his tray, losing precious heat every second, I looked around at the blank stares of the lunch ladies and realized I’d gone unseen. I could now take the potato from Dennis’ tray and hide it within the folds of my jacket and scarf. It was, indeed, the warmest my stomach has ever felt without having had any alcohol.
My students got a kick out of the potatoes. While I was deeply engaged in a conversation at lunch with a colleague, a great number of my kids lined up next to me, silently, giggling, pointing, and staring at me and my organic heaters. And later, in class, they gathered around my desk marveling at my creativity. One of my girls said, “Ms. C, I think I’m going to remember you most of all my teachers.”
“Why?” I asked. “Because of the potatoes?”
“Yeah. Because you’re weird. I’m going to tell my children about you.”
Excellent. I am going down in history.