Potato Rock Revelations, Or When You Learn Something New About Someone You’ve Known a Long Time

a bunch of potatoes with dirt and sticks still clinging to them
Image by F Delventhal / CC BY

My mother-in-law likes to walk beaches and look for interesting rocks. And apparently she has plenty to choose from on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Her collection is proudly displayed in her living room. And there’s just about everything you can imagine in there.

Apparently one time many, many years ago, when my husband was still a kid, she found one rock that looked exactly like a potato. Eerily so.

So as was her custom, she brought this potato rock back home with her and added it to her collection.

However, this rock was fated for a kind of greatness not afforded the rest of her collection. Its purpose wasn’t to simply be displayed like an artifact but to cause mischief.

Because my husband stole the rock from its place among the others and slipped it in with the potatoes his mother was going to make for dinner. While the rock never made it onto the plate, it was still apparently a pretty effective prank. One that made his mom pretty confused for a minute.

But the potato rock was discovered and put back in its place.

However, that wouldn’t be the end of it. My husband would steal the same rock several times over the years, successfully slipping it in with the dinner potatoes, each time managing to prank his mom.

This Story Was Brand New Information

I only just learned about this story a few months ago when my husband spontaneously remembered it and started chatting with his mom about it via text. They were both laughing hysterically over it, but I found that while I laughed too initially that I developed a second delayed reaction that took me by surprise. As he continued to text and laugh with his mom about that and trade other news, I grew wide eyed and oddly, a bit concerned.

I’ve known him for eight years, and I never knew he liked to play pranks, I realized suddenly.

I suppose in hindsight there were other signs that he had the potential to be a practical joker. A stray April’s Fools gag in the past that backfired. But nothing much in the present day.

He turned to me and saw the concern on my face. “Are you okay?”

I frowned. “This might sound silly, but I feel like I don’t really know you.”

He laughed. “Oh, Page.”

“Now I’m going to have to be on the lookout for tricks. Potato rocks.”

He shook his head. “No, you won’t. I won’t play tricks on you. I know you don’t like that sort of thing. That you had enough to deal with in your childhood with people messing with you in ways that weren’t so fun.

I smiled. “Okay.” And as we talked things over, I realized I’d been here many times before, dealing with this particular brand of shock but in slightly different circumstances.

Potato Rock Revelations in Polyamory

I’ve found that potato rock revelations can occur quite often in polyamory, especially when you’ve been monogamous with one partner for a while and then open up your relationship later. As your partner sees new people, it’s a very common phenomenon for them to explore new things and have new conversations with other people, and in doing so, for you to learn new things about them. Things you never knew before. And for you to see sides of them you never saw before.

It could be something fairly mundane like seeing them drinking red wine with your metamour when you thought they only liked white (when come to find out, they like both and they’ve been drinking only white wine around you because you like it and aren’t a fan of red).

Or it could be something as potentially emotionally charged (depending on your and/or their values system) as learning that they’re capable of trading a kiss or having sex with someone they not only don’t love but actively dislike given a set of specific circumstances.

There’s a whole range of these revelations. Ones that can catch you off guard.

And I’ve found that for me these moments are rarely easy. At least not right away. It’s far too easy for my first thought to be I don’t know them and begin to panic.

Embracing the Unknown

It’s at times like these that I’ve found the following Esther Perel quote helpful (from Mating in Captivity):

Passion in a relationship is commensurate with the amount of uncertainty you can tolerate…When we peg ourselves and our partners to fixed entities, we needn’t be surprised that passion goes out the window.

Our willingness to engage that mystery keeps desire alive. Faced with the irrefutable otherness of our partner, we can respond with fear or with curiosity. We can try to reduce the other to a knowable entity, or we can embrace her persistent mystery. When we resist the urge to control, when we keep ourselves open, we preserve the possibility of discovery.

The unknown can be quite uncomfortable, even scary, but there’s also something to be said for how exciting it can be as well.

Although a part of us may at times cry out for the stability of completely knowing the people we are closest to, the reality is that it’s actually impossible to ever know another person as well as we know ourselves. It certainly doesn’t help that people are moving targets, always growing and changing.

So I’ve found at those potato rock moments, it’s better to accept that the goal isn’t really to understand other people completely but instead to make the most of the time we have with them. And enjoy the fact that they will always remain a somewhat undiscovered country, wild and potentially dangerous but also a place where we can adventure and explore.

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Books by Page Turner:

A Geek’s Guide to Unicorn Ranching

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory 

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