Mashed potatoes and history

LAKE HAMILTON, HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — Someone was talking. A local guy in pressed jeans. I could tell by the crease in the pants he must be SOMEBODY around town.

(The more somebody you are, the sharper the crease.)

I picked up that observational skill in the news biz ... seemed whenever anyone was yelling at me, they had creased pants on — and the sharper the crease, the louder the volume.

BASS bosses, relax ... the somebody up there wasn't yelling at me. (I haven't even done anything yet.)

No offense to the somebody up there, but I didn't hear much of what he said after, "Welcome ."

You can also tell if somebody is really somebody by how they use that word, Welcome.

Welcome. It is a beautiful word, almost perfect, in fact.

In the economies of the English language, you could walk up to another somebody, or a podium in front of a room of somebodies, and give this speech: "Welcome." And then walk away. You're done.

Welcome says it all, 'bout a thousand words in that one seven-letter word there.

Whenever I invite somebody somewhere and they show up, I always walk over and say, "Welcome" ... then walk away. Welcome immediately puts a smile on your face, so just leave it at that.

"Welcome" from a SOMEBODY never ends with just that. So in db math, if your weekend jeans or regular pants have a crease in them, and you say welcome and then just keep on talking, that adds up to your being a SOMEBODY. And again, no offense, but my mind is going to get to wandering.

Which it did. Especially since I spotted the dessert table.

If, in fact, you are giving me dessert, you don't even need to be speaking the "Welcome," thing, just put the plate down in front of me and scram.

You wouldn't be giving me sweets if you didn't want me here.

So, up in the front of the banquet room, this somebody is welcoming the 20 pros and 20 co-anglers to the Women's Bassmaster Championship, and saying nice stuff, 'cause no one seems to be booing, and I would, in fact, be telling you exactly what the somebody was saying, being all reporter-like, had it not been for one small problem ...


A championship dessert, no less, just sitting there, looking at me. And I'm looking right back. Under the table, my feet are jumping up and down, my fingers are a-tapping, lips being licked, butt shifting in the chair.

Come on with the welcomes already. We here, we can't actually go anywhere else, you know, having just told the whole entire planet how "welcomed," we were here, before being officially hotel-banquet-room-welcomed and all.


I'm up like a shot. Vicky and Max, two BASS people, and I jump to the back of the food line, ever respectful of the anglers eating first, of course, pick up two plates — you have to plan ahead for banquet runoff you know — shuffle through the line, speed up past the salad/grass-like stuff area, slow down real slow at the fried table, speed up again at the fruit area with only one slight pause to palm a couple pieces of square cheeses onto the plate, slow down a hair at the rolls, then speed up big time toward the desserts.

And there it stood in all its glory: heap upon heap of the fluffy motherload, sitting there all proud in some sort of huge martini/margarita shiny glass. We're at the championship and that there is some championship DESSERT.

"Don," says Valerie (whom I've been calling Vicky for months now), as she reaches for this glass from the dessert gods, "Would you like some mashed potatoes?"

"No, just give me the dessert."

"What dessert?"

"That dessert."

"Don, these are mashed potatoes — they just made it like this to make it look cool."

And it was like my dog died. Or like when I thought my student loan was paid in full, but then another payment book arrived ... or like when the Buffalo Bills lined up in the Super Bowl to kick the winning field goal, and missed.

Somehow, the dessert table just went, wide right.

Could that possibly have been what that somebody up there was talking about? Warning us that here on Lake Hamilton, some sort of local custom makes a tuber a dessert?

Was the speech I forgot to listen to, "Welcome ... and here, have this root for dessert."

So I went and sat back down, dessert-less, my overflow banquet dish useless, while all around me the WBT anglers ate the potato in a glass. Some had put strips of cheddar cheese on it, others bacon bits, some went the sour cream route.

And I watched with a mouth all mad, because it was ready for hot fudge and whipped cream, not some sort of quasi-vegetable.

But as I watched, it dawned on me that I was sitting amidst history.

Someone not eating dessert right now will make history in a few short days.

Someone who had just stood in line with me, will shortly go to the front of the line as the first woman to fish the Bassmaster Classic, alongside of and against the men.

Someone in here eating bacon bits, sour cream, and whatever the green things you sprinkle on it are called, that someone is just days away from being a SOMEBODY, forever.

When that happens, I'll be standing there, and I will walk up to that SOMEBODY, reporter notebook open and armed, and I will ask them this exact question:

"Wanna get some dessert?"

And that somebody, being a real person without the pressed crease, will go.

— db

Don Barone is a member of the New England Outdoor Writers Association. Other stories of his can be found on For comments or story ideas you can reach db at