Today, US Secretary of State John Kerry met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Sochi, Russia. As is traditional on such occasions, the two men exchanged gifts. Kerry presented Lavrov with a briefcase.
Lavrov, however, gave his American counterpart a basket of potatoes and a basket of tomatoes, as well as a "victory" T-shirt commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany.
The potatoes, apparently, were a reference to Kerry’s 2014 gift to Lavrov of two Idaho potatoes. At the time, Lavrov assured Kerry that the potatoes would be eaten, not turned into vodka. But that seems to have been a lie: Lavrov later said the potatoes were sent to the Krasnodar region of Russia to be studied by "Krasnodar experts."
Raw potatoes are a weird gift for anyone to give, but they seem especially odd in the context of diplomatic discussions. We have many, many questions about the two men’s exchange of tubers.
1) John Kerry is an actual millionaire. Where did he get the idea that a couple of raw potatoes are an acceptable gift?
2) Is this one of those weird WASP-y things where everyone has so much money that spending it seems in poor taste, so at Christmas everyone just sits around in threadbare sweaters exchanging jars of honey grown on their country estates?
3) Does John Kerry have a potato estate?
4) When he visits, does John Kerry take a hands-on approach to potato cultivation?
5) Does he never feel as alive as he does when he’s hacking apart clods of dirt, trying to free the potatoes trapped inside?
6) Did he name one of the clods of dirt "Bashar al-Assad" before bashing it with his shovel?
7) Did he name another clod "Sergei Lavrov"?
8) Is THAT why he gave Lavrov those two Idaho potatoes?
9) Does Lavrov know?
10) Is that why he sent the potatoes to Krasnodar — to learn Kerry’s secrets?
11) Should we consider the potatoes defectors?
12) Kerry gave Lavrov two potatoes, but Lavrov gave Kerry many more in return. Is Russia winning the potato arms race?
13) Lavrov’s many potatoes were "distantly related" to those he received from Kerry. Does that mean the Russians have developed superior, higher-yield potato technology?
14) Is the US no longer able to achieve mutually assured potato destruction?
15) Is our nation’s strategic potato chip reserve in danger?
16) What will we eat during our Fourth of July barbecues if there are no potato chips?
17) Will it even really be the Fourth of July without chips?
18) If it’s not really the Fourth of July, is America even independent any more?
19) Have we already been reincorporated into the British empire, even as we speak?
20) Is the queen just waiting for the right moment to bring it up?
21) As in, "One has a special greeting for our 'American' friends this Fourth of July"?
22) Is this going to be Prince George’s practice kingdom?
23) Will he make us start calling cookies "biscuits"?
24) Should we have been clearer with John Kerry at the start of his tenure that a core function of the secretary of state position is to ensure that America is not unwittingly re-absorbed into the British Empire as a result of a gifting mishap?
26) Would he have listened, despite his potato madness?
27) Was this Putin's nefarious plan all along?
28) Kerry fell for Putin's classic Potato Gambit, didn't he?
29) Will Putin make the potato a Hero of the Russian Federation?
30) Will we ever avenge ourselves on that damnable tuber?