Coy’s face lights up when we come out. He is wearing a shirt and tie and… his tie has purple stripes like my shirt! He waggles the tie in my direction. “What are the odds?” he quips. Parked in our driveway is a bright blue van. It reminds me of the Mystery Machine, from Scooby Doo. Coy laughs when I tell him this, and informs me that this shade of blue is Uncle Jack’s favorite, so he had the van custom painted. My dad sits in front next to Coy, who is driving. I crawl in the back to sit by Uncle Jack.
He shakes my hand. “Are you ready for your next show?” he asks me. Auditions for our fall play, Dracula, will be held at the end of August.
I am definitely ready for a break from the theater, so I roll my eyes and make Uncle Jack chuckle by exaggerating my response of “Absolutely not!” My dad entertains us for the rest of the ride by retelling a story about two little kids destroying the children’s section of the library while their mom read a magazine with her headphones in. I make a mental note to up my childbearing age to 32.
We have dinner at my dad’s favorite steakhouse. I don’t like steak, but I think my dad chose it for Coy and Uncle Jack. I stick to a loaded baked potato and a salad. My head still hurts a little, so I try to drink as much water as I can. Uncle Jack eats his potato with a look of rapture on his face.
“I love potatoes,” he declares. “I mean, really, is there anything as delicious as a classic, Idaho-grown potato?”
“Steak,” Coy jokes. I decline to respond to that, sucking down another quarter of my glass of water.
My dad looks thoughtful. “How do you know,” he asks, “if the potato really came from Idaho?”
Uncle Jack peers at the menu. “It says so on here.” He points at the description of the various side dishes the restaurant offers.
“Yeah, but how much do you trust what it says on those menus?” Dad counters. “How is some copywriter in Texas going to know if the potatoes actually came from Idaho?” Uncle Jack and Coy have both stopped eating, and both sets of blue eyes are staring at my dad as if he is trying to answer one of the great mysteries of the universe. Dad keeps going. “It seems to me like the only way to guarantee that you are eating an Idaho potato is to drive to Idaho, go to a potato farm, and ask the farmer for a potato. Demand the genuine article.” I want to demand that we talk about something else, but I decide not to be rude. Instead I gnaw on a crouton from my salad and look around at the other diners.
Uncle Jack gets a wistful look on his face. His tone of voice is dreamy. He says, “I’ve always loved Idaho potatoes. Maybe I should actually drive to Idaho and eat one.”
Coy laughs. “You can call the Make-a-Wish foundation. Don’t they help people like you achieve their dreams?” Uncle Jack smiles.
“I think they help kids. Besides, I could do it myself. Boise is only, what, 9 hours from here?” The couple at the table across from us are feeding French fries to each other. I frown, thinking that I have never fed Bryce a French fry. Or anything else, actually.
Coy leans back in his chair. “So let’s do it. Let’s go get you your genuine, guaranteed Idaho potato.” Uncle Jack and my dad both look skeptical. I start to pay attention to their conversation again. Coy continues. “Seriously. I don’t have to be back in Chicago until the middle of August. That’s plenty of time to go to Boise and come back.”
Uncle Jack slaps his hand on the table, startling the French fry couple. “Why not?” he exclaims. “Let’s do it! Let’s go this week!” He and Coy share an excited high-five.
“Can I come?” I surprise myself by asking this. My dad also looks surprised. Uncle Jack stretches his arms out wide. “Of course!” he cries, still excited by the prospect of the trip. “Of course!” Coy grins at me.I have no idea why I want to do this. I do love potatoes, but I’ve been content not knowing their origin for the past 22 years. I do enjoy spending time with Uncle Jack and Coy, but I can see them when they get back. I think I’ve never done anything as spontaneous as drive to Idaho simply for the fun of it, and right now I feel a little reckless.