Did you ever feel as if you've wandered into a Monty Python sketch?
The warm weather reminds me of an incident a few years back when I thought I was in my own version of the Pythons' legendary cheese shop routine.
In this brilliant piece of British comedy, John Cleese plays a chap with a yen for "cheesy comestibles." Venturing into a shop operated by Michael Palin, Cleese inquires as to the availability of dozens of cheeses -- from Pont l'Évêque to basic cheddar. No matter what Cleese requests, he is denied. Excuses from Palin abound. The cheese is runny, the cat ate it, the delivery never arrived. . . Finally, in frustration, Cleese's character shoots Palin, lamenting "a senseless waste of human life" -- and ending the sketch.
In my own surreal experience, it was a warm summer night and I was in search of some icy comestibles. My teenage son, Eric, and I decided to check out a now-defunct place in Coram.
We scanned the plethora of flavors listed on menu board. It had been years since I had Italian ices and I was savoring the gustatory experience before me. I had trouble deciding, but without hesitation, Eric ordered vanilla chocolate chip.
The young man at the window looked down at Eric and said, "Sorry, we're out of that flavor."
Eric was disappointed, but gamely asked for coconut. That sounded good, so I said, "Make it two!"
The teenager walked to the rear of the place, then came back with bad news: "Coconut is sold out."
A good sport, Eric took the news in stride and asked if he could taste a flavor to see if he liked it. The teen recommended pink bubble gum, his "personal favorite." He found a small white plastic tasting spoon, and again retreated to the back of the stand. When he returned, the spoon was starkly bereft of ices. Eric and I looked at each other, incredulous, thinking we were the unwitting victims of a cruel confectionary hoax. We reasoned that the kid wouldn't recommend pink bubble gum if there wasn't any, right?
Wrong! I guess the cat got it, along with the Pont-l'Eveque.
Mildly irritated, I asked if he had any ices at all.
"Of course!" he said.
I asked him to list the flavors he did have, expecting a Palinesque, "We have pineapple, chocolate, lemon, rainbow and cherry, but the pineapple sold out early, the chocolate was stored at the wrong temperature and went rancid, the lemon is chalky, the rainbow is missing a couple of colors and the cherry is overly sour."
Mercifully, that didn't happen. The young man narrowed our options to piña colada and "blue."
Wary of the latter, we chose what we hoped to be the safer flavor. Fortunately, I didn't have to end the transaction in the manner that the Pythons had ended theirs! That would have been a senseless waste of human life!
Reader Robin Ames lives in Coram.