Thoughts of Stripes and Sweet Potatoes


They’ve been keeping them from me my whole life, but I tried sweet potatoes for the first time the other night.  They were damn good.

I asked my dad, ‘Why can’t I have sweet potatoes all the time?’

He said, ‘Because sweet potatoes have to be hunted.’

I said. ‘You’re taking advantage of my lack of worldly knowledge because I am a baby.’

He said when I am sleeping he and my mom go downtown and hide behind some camouflage that looks like another sweet potato and wait for the sweet potatoes to come out. Then they nab one for me, bring it home, cook it up, remove the skin, strain it, and hand it to me on my orange spoon.


I’m pretty sure that he’s making all that up, but I play along because I like sweet potatoes.

It’s amazing to think that the sweet potatoes I ingest, and indeed everything I experience and witness at five months old will adhere to my personality like a barnacle. While I have certain core traits, and probably some preset dharma encoding,  I’m thinking mostly about the stripes and how they are shaping who I am and who I will become. Yes, I said stripes. Let me explain.


My parents dress me a lot in stripes. Consequently, at this impressionable age I am constructing my weltanschauung (look it up) entirely upon stripes.

I have stripes on my shirts and pants, and clashing stripes on my socks. I have stripes on my hats. Stripes are not all that slimming when they are horizontal and particularly when you have a belly like mine, but they are forming my neural pathways and soon, my vision for my future. Frankly, I already am into strata and striations. I like parallel lines a whole lot. When I astral travel during naps I like to fly over Midwestern farmland arranged in stripey patterns. When I dream, I dream of tigers. By day I think of wallpaper (with stripes).

What is the meaning of this, you ask? Stripes signify looking far off into the distance, envisioning the horizon. So in later life, I may become a surveyor of new lands, or a painter who paints stripes down the middle of the road. My future is wide open! But it will most certainly involve stripes.

My mommy, being a fourth wave feminist, is into spirals. My dad, being a scientist of some kind, likes things with no absolute beginning or end, like Möbius strips. But I know when I travel, I will circumnavigate, since when I look at the stripes traveling around my belly, that is what they do. I might be a sea caption circling the globe or a space captain sailing past planets and always coming home again. I see myself charting a course around Belly Mountain, passing the Isles of Hips, rounding the puffy Rump of Seventh Generation, and  past the Left Hips to regain Belly Mountain. My world is small, only as wide as my butt or my crib, but my thoughts are big. I am an explorer.


The other night my mother’s helper had to stay late so my parents could go out. I heard them whispering something about ‘date night.’ ‘Where are you going?’ I asked.

‘We have to go out and get peas for you,’ dad said.

‘Don’t tell me they have to be hunted,’ I said.

‘No, but they must be captured one at a time with a tiny net,’ he said.

I was about to tell him I’m not playing along with that, because I don’t like peas all that much, but he threw me a curve.

He said, ‘Next week you’re going to try avocado.’