Powerful memory 

by Rod Smith

The Mercury / Thursday 

I was once in London in my very late teens and was taken to a fine restaurant. When the food was served and I unwrapped the baked potato from the foil and the rottenness and blackness of the potato became obvious to me. I covered it with other foods so no one else could see the rotten baked potato and then bit-by-bit and bite-by-bite I ate the entire thing to avoid drawing attention to the food or to myself. 

I was violently ill the next day.

Shame consumed me in that restaurant. 

Shame hid the rotten potato. 

Self-blame silenced me.

I could no more draw attention to the potato than I could have walked on water. I embodied shame for something that happened to me and something I had nothing to do with producing.

The baked rotten potato was not, in my mind, an oversight from a busy kitchen or the result of a lack of attention from a distracted chef. I was getting what I deserved. In polite but pained silence and with the subtlety of a teenage boy hiding an immoral act I hid it all.

Thank God things have changed….

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