Sometimes, pranks go too far. We’re not talking about YouTube pranks where people are purposely obnoxious for no good reason; we’re talking about apparently harmless pranks that spin out of control.
That brings us to one of the most incredible Reddit posts we’ve ever read. As is the case with all things Reddit, we can’t verify that it really happened—we reached out to the person who posted the tale, but we didn’t hear back, and his account hasn’t been active for three years. Maybe he’s in hiding.
Originally posted to the subreddit TIFU (which stands for “today I messed up,” and you can probably guess which one of those words we changed), it’s the story of a misunderstanding that was completely avoidable (but absolutely hilarious). Strap in, grab your favorite potato-based snack, and prepare yourself for some broken English.
When you’re invited to your significant other’s house for the first time, you’re typically on your best behavior.
“Let me tell you that I have made a bad mistake this evening,” wrote NotKnowPotato (the username will make sense in a few moments).
We should note: NotKnowPotato apparently doesn’t speak English as his first language, and while we’d typically clean up the grammar in an article like this, we’re leaving it intact in this instance since it adds to the story. In fact, it’s probably our favorite component of the story.
“My girlfriend (who is only my second girlfriend of all time) said I was invited to dinner with her and her parents,” he wrote. “I was very aghast, nervous, and bashful to be invited to such a situation, but I knew it must be done.”
“I met them nicely, I should tell you, and it started off in a good way. The idea slapped my mind that I should do a comic bit, to make a good impression and become known to them as a person who is amusing. When I saw that baked potatoes were served I got the idea that it would be very good if I pretended I did not know what potatoes was. That would be funny.”
See? We told you that the username would make sense.
“Well, let me tell you: backfired on my face,” NotKnowPotato wrote. “I’ll tell you how.”
While we’ve never heard that expression before, it’s a pretty good description of what went down at dinner.
His plan in place, NotKnowPotato prepared to…not know potatoes.
He committed to acting as if he’d never seen a potato before in an effort to impress his girlfriend’s (apparently strict) parents.
“So first, when the potato became on my plate, I acted very interesting,” he wrote. “I showed an expression on my face so as to seem that I was confused, astounded but in a restrained way, curious, and interested. They did notice and seemed confused, but did not remark. So I asked, ‘This looks very interesting. What is this?’”
“They stared at me, and the mother said ‘It’s a baked potato.’ And I was saying, ‘Oh, interesting, a baked…what is it, again?’”
“And she was like, ‘A potato.’”
“And I was like, ‘A potato, oh, interesting. Never heard of a potato, looks pretty good.’”
The prank worked perfectly—in fact, it worked a little too perfectly.
“And then they didn’t see I was clowning, but thought I really did not know what is a potato. So I knew I would be very shamed, humiliated, depressed, and disgusted if I admitted to making a bad joke, so what I did was to act as if it was not a joke, but I committed to the act of pretending I didn’t know what a potato is.”
“They asked me, very incredulous, did I really not know what a potato is? That I never heard of a potato. I went with it and told them, ‘Yes, I did not ever even hear of a potato.’ Not only had I never eaten a potato, I had never heard the word ‘potato.’”
“This went on for a bit, and my girlfriend was acting very confused and embarrassed by my ‘f***** up antics.’ The more insistent I was about not knowing what a potato is was when the parents starting thinking I did know what a potato was.”
At this point, most people would just admit that they were joking.
Most people would acknowledge that they’d eaten plenty of potatoes, apologize for the confusion, and enjoy a nice, hearty dinner. At some point, you’ve got to cut your losses. Fortunately for us, NotKnowPotato isn’t a quitter.
“Well, let me tell you, I had to commit 100 percent at this point. When I would not admit to knowing what a potato was, the father especially began to get annoyed. At one point he said something like, ‘Enough is enough. You’re [messing] with us. Admit it.’”
And I said, ‘Sir, before today, I never heard of a potato. I still don’t know what a potato is, other than some kind of food. I don’t know what to tell you.’”
“Well, let me tell you, he got very annoyed. I decided to take a bite of the potato, and when I did I made a high pitched noise and said, ‘Tastes very strange!’”
“That is when the father started yelling at me, and the mother kept saying ‘What are you doing?’ and my girlfriend went to some other room.”
“Finally the father said I should ‘get the f*** of his house,’ and I said it was irrational to treat me like this just because I never heard of a potato before. Well, let me tell you, he didn’t take that kindly.”
“Now, in text messages, I have been telling my girlfriend I really don’t know what a potato is. The only way I can ever get out of this is for them to buy that I don’t know what a potato is. I wish I never started it but I can’t go back. I think she will break up with me anyway.”
There was never an update, but if his girlfriend did break up with him, NotKnowPotato has the greatest breakup story of all time.
Oddly enough, that story started a trend on Reddit.
Other users started contributing their tales of woe…all of which involve potatoes. We can’t really explain why stories of utter embarrassment seem to involve spuds, but that’s clearly the case, as evidenced by this next story from Reddit user amazighkid.
“I am a native Tachilhiyt speaker, but once I moved to the U.S. when I was young, I got a little bit rusty over the course of a few years due to speaking primarily English at school,” they wrote.
Also known as Tacelhiyt or Shilha, the language is spoken in southwestern Morocco. As of 2016, there were about 7 million native Tacelhiyt speakers in the world, so it’s not an especially common language in the grand scheme of things. That doesn’t really matter for this story—but hey, it’s interesting.
“My grandmother moved in from our native country to visit and stay with us for a few months. She speaks no English, but I was easily able to communicate with her, seeing as I am mostly fluent in our language. However, I do tend to make the occasional flub.”
“Only my grandmother and I are home, I’m about to leave for a few hours, and she asks me how to make our dinner soup for the night. Usually, the soups we eat consist of veggies like carrots and cauliflower and other things, blended together with potatoes as kind of a base. It’s primarily potato and carrot.”
“So I’m telling her all of the stuff she needs to cook in the pot, and I emphasize potatoes and carrots because they’re the main ingredients. For some reason, she’s looking at me in this bewildered way, and is asking me ‘Potatoes? You’re sure you need that much potatoes?’
“And I tell her, ‘Yeah, it’s a potato-and-carrot soup. You need at least four potatoes. Trust me, it’s delicious.’ She stares at me and says fine, she trusts me.”
“Fast forward a few hours later when I get home, and the soup is all done and everyone is ready to eat. I get the pot and look inside, and I’m just like—what the f***.”
“Turns out, I completely mixed up the words for ‘butter’ and ‘potato’ in my dialect. My grandmother put four to five sticks of butter [into the pot] instead of potatoes. It was so incredibly greasy and disgusting looking that even thinking about it right now is giving me acne. There were like two inches of liquid butter just floating on top of the pureed veggies. It was some next-level Paula Deen [stuff]. Honestly, I feel like Paula Deen would have run away scared.”
“In my defense, potato in my language sounds a lot like the English word ‘butter,’ so I must have just confused the two in my head. It was terrible. We ended up getting Chinese food for dinner that gave my brother food poisoning. I’m never allowed to give anyone recipes in any language other than English again.”
The moral of the story: Don’t forget the potatoes.
And definitely don’t forget about the potatoes. We’ll let Reddit user fateofmorality explain.
“For the past three weeks I’ve had a horrible cough and have had nausea every time I’ve been in my one-bedroom apartment,” they wrote. “Every single time I walked into it, I always got hit by this ammonia-like smell that I thought were cleaning supplies.”
“I’ve been having to keep all my doors and windows open, which sucks because I live in a hot area and I can’t turn on the A/C when I’m doing that. At night, when I go to bed and close everything, I start coughing horribly.”
“Last night, I was putting away stuff I got from the grocery store. I was trying to find a place to put something and I opened a drawer…I was hit by this super-strong odor that made me start coughing and retching immediately. I walked away, went outside, and felt like I was about to pass out.”
“A few minutes later, I went back in, held my breath, and saw that I left a dozen small potatoes in there. I was told to keep them in a cool, dry place, and I thought a drawer would be that.”
“Apparently not. They were all moldy, and that mold leaked into the wooden drawer. I picked them up, threw them out down the garbage chute, and have been aerating my apartment while I’m at work.”
“About a year ago, I read this story about how rotting potato gas killed almost an entire family. I assume that’s what’s been making me sick (I hope, at least, because then I found the problem). I’m going to get my blood checked in a few days because my lungs hurt.”
Unfortunately, that story was apparently true, per a Russian news report from 2015. In the Russian republic of Tatarstan, four members of one family passed away after breathing in noxious vapors from rotten potatoes. The original report doesn’t note how many potatoes the family was storing at the time of the incident, but we couldn’t find any similar incidents on record.
However, potatoes do contain toxic compounds called glycoalkaloids, including solanine, which can cause serious symptoms including abdominal pain, and vomiting. Fortunately, those side effects are rare. To stay on the safe side, throw out any potatoes that turn green and sprout—and if you notice an ammonia-like smell coming from your tubers, get rid of them.
Phew, that was a depressing dose of reality. Here’s a slight pick-me-up.
If it’s not clear by now, potatoes are dangerous. That’s especially true when you launch them at people. We’ll let Reddit user SouRzCSGO take it from here.
“[I was] somewhere between 7 and 10 years old, playing outside on a hot summer’s day,” he wrote. “I was one of three children, and my parents were relatively rich for the area we lived in (one of the most expensive streets around that area). This meant that we had some of the coolest toys, swimming pools, them battery-powered race cars—the lot.”
“Now, there is a two-year age difference between myself and my other brothers, so if I was 8, my little brother was 6, and my older brother was 10. We’d always mess around and play pranks on each other whenever we could, such as launching a water balloon out of the window to hit someone in the head.”
“Timmy was my best friend who lived just across the street, and his parents got him a new toy: He had a spud [launcher].”
If you’re not familiar, spud launchers…well, launch potatoes. It’s right there in the name. Usually, you’d break off a bit of a potato, then the launcher uses air pressure to send it flying toward your target. You can get them on Amazon, but they’re fairly easy to make.
“It didn’t hurt when you got hit (as long as it wasn’t the eyes!) and it was all just for a little bit of fun,” SouRzCSGO explained. “Plus, it was hilarious when your parents got mad about finding billions of bits of potato around the house.”
Yes, kids are awful. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there.
“So, me being me, I decided to play a prank on my older brother. Timmy and I stole two huge potatoes—I have no idea how they were so big, maybe I was just really little—and we went upstairs. We basically played an army game, and the target was my brother.”
“We ran into my parents’ room and opened the window as quietly as possible. We loaded up [the launcher] and started shooting at my brother. Nothing. Nothing at all. The potato pieces were barely reaching him, and he was too focused [on playing] Pokémon on his Gameboy.”
“We tried to keep doing this for a few minutes, but got bored, as most 8-year-olds would. We then came up with the worst f***** idea known to man: Rather than shooting potato at him, let’s just chuck one of the [enormous] potatoes at him!”
“I pick up this potato, charge my little arms up as much as humanly possible for a two-foot 8-year-old, and sling this potato towards the body of my brother. Direct hit! In the head!”
“Oh wait, is he okay?”
“Four hours later, I am sitting with my dad in the emergency room while my brother is having MRI scans or whatever they do when you hurt yourself in the head. Basically, what happened [is] the potato hit him in the back of the head with enough force to sling him headfirst into the concrete slab, which caused a small crack in his skull just above his hairline.”
“He had bandages on his head for a few days and missed a couple of days of school, but I’m pretty confident he was just as brain damaged before that happened as he is now. He’ll be 21 in a few months.”
The takeaway: Potatoes are dangerous, life-ruining vegetables, and should only be handled by professionals. Yes, they’re delicious—but at what cost?