by Keef Rutledge on February 8, 2012

The first job I ever had was a dishwashing gig at the Brown Bottle Restaurant in Iowa City. I had just started college. The very first paycheck I got, I ran to the the supermarket, cashed it there, and spent the entirety of it on freeze-dried potato flakes. I carried it all back to my apartment, where I emptied all the boxes into my bathtub, ran the hot water, and took the first of what would be many reconstituted mashed-potato baths. As I lay there, languidly moving my arms through those spuds, I felt a pang of regret that I hadn’t thought to buy any brown gravy. “Next time,” I thought, as I held my nose and plunged beneath the surface.

(Keef Rutledge lives in Austin and can be seen at

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