I am the official potato masher at the family gatherings. It's my job, and dinner cannot be put upon the table until I've mashed up the spuds. I have this title because my potatoes ROCK. Ask anyone; you won't find better mashed potatoes anywhere.
The first time I was called upon to mash the potatoes was some time in the early '90s. I don't recall the exact year, nor do I remember which holiday gathering it was, but my mom stood there shaking the electric mixer at me, going "MASH!!" So I did.
Apparently back in those days I really sucked at it, because that batch of mashed potatoes were full of lumps. My brother bitched about it through the whole meal.
"Oh, God," he said. "These are inedible!!" He made a big production of sifting through his potatoes with his fork and picking out the lumps, which he scraped off on to the edge of his plate. "What did you mash these with, your FEET???"
It pissed me off; I fumed.That lousy son of a bitch!! Sit there and criticize my mashing abilities, will he?? I'll show him!!
So every holiday thereafter, I beat the shit out of those potatoes. I put that mixer on 'high,' which made the TV go fuzzy and all the non-cooks in the living room go "HEY!!" I poured in milk and margarine, and beat until my arm and shoulder ACHED.
The trick, you see, is to first mash with a hand masher, then move on to the electric. You spin the bowl with one hand and mash with the other, stopping intermittently to scrape the sides with a spatula. Stand mixers are easier, but old Sylv only has a hand mixer.
My brother, alas, has shuffled off this mortal coil and now complains about stuff in another dimension. And every holiday I, the Official Potato Masher, mash the bejeezus out of the potatoes with a picture of my lump-picking brother in my mind's eye. So while there may be a lump in my throat, there is nary a one in my potatoes.