The origin of the couch potato

    The Couch Potato, in academic circles known by its scientific name Solanum lectulus, is a misunderstood and seldom studied member of the tuber category of vegetables. This brief account will explore the history and probable future of the starch.

    Today, the Couch Potato is a boring, brown, bakeable lump, hardly worth any working person’s attention. When the potato finds a suitable habitat, it roots itself in place, burrowing its tuber deep into the bedding of said sofa or settee, divan or davenport. From that moment on, it will not budge, not even to scavenge for food. See, the Couch Potato, in its inexistent brain (it is a plant, after all), believes that all sustenance will be brought to it, without the plant having to move a leaf. It is lazy in every sense, dependent without bounds, and will most likely become extinct due to its inability to fend for itself. Nevertheless, the Couch Potato always seems to scrape by, its useless habits fueled by some higher power that still smiles down upon it, despite the fact that it has not contributed to society since its phylogenetic branch split from that of its potato cousins. However, as evolution dictates, this description did not always match the infamous Couch Potato.

    In the pre-modern era, the Couch Potato could hardly be called by its current nomenclature. Imagine its lumpy surface replaced with a smooth sheen, its rusty tone substituted with a beautiful hue. If it could be described as uselessly fat now (and it can), healthily skinny would be the right descriptive phrase to illustrate the aforementioned potato’s ancestor. Sadly, the potato’s days of extravagant looks and charms would soon be exchanged with a façade that not even a potato mother could love.

    Scientific rumor has it that the Couch Potato has many eyes. This has remained an unconfirmed fact, since they never exit their perpetual sleep. Thus their eyes (if they exist) remain closed. Perhaps the optical organs are vestigial, once used to enable the potato to be hyper-vigilant of predators, like the ferocious bunny rabbit. Nevertheless, the skill is now profoundly lost on the species.

    The Couch Potato’s transition into its modern form is widely held to have begun when nutrition supplies became overabundant, circa 1976. Once it no longer had to scavenge for sustenance, its genetically predisposed laziness rose to its behavioral surface. From that moment on, the starch was in constant decline. Even when its metaphorical belt no longer fit, the potato would not stop consuming. Within a few short years, the genetic pool had become so corrupted (i.e., it could not reproduce with its ancestral potato kind) that it had to be fully classified as a new species. The Couch Potato was born.

    Biologists are not sure what to make of this potato’s future. Is this just a passing phase as the species reaches maturity? Or will it be condemned to a grotesque feeding cycle that can only result in the extinction of the species. Perhaps it needs to die out; it would free up resources for other plants and animals that have scrawnier physiques. One thing is for sure: the Couch Potato is here now, and is not going anywhere in the foreseeable future. After all, it cannot, and will not, budge.


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    Robbie Stern, Oct. 30, 2012