The place that I last worked at, SCU’s Orradre Library, had a thing about Mr. Potatohead. I believe it started out with a book that somebody found in the stacks called something like, “the history of the potato.” This person brought the book to a little once-a-month staff gathering called “Spin-it-in-a-minute” to share. A “Spin-it-in-a-minute (shortened to “Spin it”) was this little thing where staff would all meet in the staff lounge once a month or so and briefly update everyone on things going on in their departments. So this person brings this book to a “Spin it” as a kind of joke, like, “they will write a book about anything.” And it kind of took off from there. I’m not sure how it got to this point, but somehow they began passing around a potato at the end of each “Spin it” as a way to spotlight someone special. The person who had the potato would then pass it along to someone else at the next Spin It. Of course, after awhile the potato got kind of rotten and gross, as you can imagine. So someone had the brilliant idea of replacing the rotten potato with a Mr. Potatohead.
Okay, that’s the backstory. The stuff that happened before I got there. At my first Spin It I was given Mr. Potatohead because, well, I was the new person and that is what they did to the new person. I really was taken aback by this little gesture and didn’t quite understand it at the time, but thought it was very sweet and a fun thing to do. I went with the flow of things and passed it along to someone else at the next Spin it. Somehow, Mr. Potatohead ended up in my department again (Circulation). The person who had it decided to have some fun and change its looks slightly to resemble the person she wanted to pass it along to. This person happened to have a pierced eyebrow so she, in fact, gave Mr. Potatohead a pierced eyebrow. Everyone had a big laugh over that at the next Spin it. But I believe that this is the moment when it all started to get very out of control. Now we all had to one-up each other in the “Passing of the Potato(head)”.
The heat was REALLY turned up when the Head of the Reference decided to have Mr. Potatohead cataloged. She had him tucked away in Archives, hoping to never have to see him again. The catalog record was read and everyone was totally astonished at the creativity of this. It was brilliant. I think we even found a nice little archival box to put him in. Most of us kind of thought that this was the end. The Passing of the Potato(head) had run its course. Indeed, it was only the beginning.
Somehow, Mr. Potatohead escaped from Archives. He fell into the hands of someone who decided to create a documentary on the “life and times of Mr. Potatohead.” How on earth was that going to be topped?
The wedding. Yes, we had a wedding. Somebody found a friend for Mr. Potatohead and we had an actual wedding for the two (I think it was really just an excuse to have a party). There was a best man, a maid of honor, and a minister, and we really did marry the two. Somewhere there are pictures of me looking on during this spectacle with a look on my face that says, “What? Huh?”
Eventually the Potatoheads had children. Someone found little baby potatoheads somewhere and they became a part of the clan. Sombody made a little house for them. It got to the point where the Potatoheads had to be wheeled into the Spin it on a booktruck because there was so much paraphanalia involved.
So you can imagine, 10 months, a new job, and hundreds of miles separating myself from this spectacle, my reaction when I came into work a few weeks ago and saw this:
I can’t get away from him! The paranoid part of me thinks that he is stalking me. But that thought would be insane.
Actually, one of my colleagues decided that we need a branch mascot. the scary part of this is that when I told my colleagues my Orradre Potatohead story I could tell from the looks in their eyes and the way they said,”hmmmm,” that the wheels were turning.
I’m kind of afraid.