Just finished reading a fascinating book called "The Sistene Secrets: Michaelangelo's Forbidden Messages in the Heart of the Vatican." I tell you, you really have to take your hat off to a guy who secretly sneaks into his frescos characters who are giving the finger to the pope at the time, in the heart of Vatican City. That takes balls!
Of course, there's way, way more to the book than that. As the author wrote, "what this lone artist wanted to do was construct a giant bridge of the spirit, spanning different faiths, cultures, eras, and sexualities." Really, once you read this book and see all the hidden images contained in the Sistene Chapel, you'll never be able to think about this masterpiece of human ingenuity the same way again.
Still, what is the one thing I'll walk away with? Oh, you know me, of course it's something absurd. And sure enough, here it is, hands down, this passage, found toward the end of the book:
"Carafa, as Pope Paul IV...banned the potato--recently brought to Europe from the New World by Sir Francis Drake--as a fruit of lust sent by Satan."
Now, that struck me as a funny thing. Honestly, I've never thought of the potato as a particularly lustful fruit.
I mean, maybe I can see tomato, say, as a fruit of lust. They're so red and seedy, and in the summer's sun just waiting to be harvested, their precious fluids trapped within their tender skin do tend to bulge out and seem ready to burst in orgasmic splendor. I could see taking a bucket of tomatoes and bringing them to a nearby bath tub with the one I love for an evening of lustful fruit indulgence. Smashing and squishing them over body parts, that sort of thing.
Even grapes, which I know Italian popes were awfully fond of, seem quite sexy to me. All those twisting vines and plump plucking!
And pomegranates, absolutely. Even just saying the word pomegranate makes me all tingly inside.
But the lowly potato? I don't think there's an iota of lust in its entire being. It's all root and eye and spud. I could no more view the potato as an object of lust than I could Rosie O'Donnell in a thong. The whole idea is patently absurd.
I would never think of bringing a sack of potatoes to a bath tub, to smash and squirm over my loved one's body. That just sounds painful. Well, unless I brought gravy. Or maybe potato buds! Add some milk and water, and a splendid time is guaranteed for all.
What was this crazy Pope thinking? Well, honestly, banning the potato was the least of his sins--this was one mean bigoted Pope, from the sounds of it. Even so, he sure had weird ideas about lustful fruits.
Now moving on to a new book: "Dangerously Funny: the Uncensored Story of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour." As you can see, I'm really in the mood for outspoken liberal crusaders who aren't afraid to challenge authority. I doubt I'll read anything about lustful fruits in this one, though, although Tommy and Dickie did get their big break at the Purple Onion...