Tuesday, 26 February 2008

The absurd and comic

(So that I am not plagiarising, this is from Freedom and Fulfillment by Joel Feinburg, published by Princeton University Press in 1992. This excerpt is taken from the last Chapter, 'The absurd and the comic', page 336.)

A man enters an elegant bakery shop on Fifth Avenue and makes a special order, with down payments, of a multitier frosted cake baked in the shape of the letter S. The skeptical baker complains that the ordered cake is too big, and that its awkward shape will require that a specially made tin plate be ordered, at considerable cost.

"Don't worry," says the customer, "I'm in no hurry, and I don't care about the expense."

A week later on the appointed day, he returns to pick up the cake, but he is disappointed with what he finds. The S is a script S. He had failed to mention that he wanted a capital S. The following week he returns again, but once more changes his order. Now he wants a German gothic S. It takes a month to make and bake the case, but alas, it is an italic S- all wrong. But the customer's patience is inexhaustible. He gladly pays the expenses of a German medieval historian to consult on the exact shade of pink frosting lead to further delays and false starts, but six months after the original roder was made a satisfactory cake is produced. The customer, beside himself with delight, writes a check for $23,479.21. The equally delighted store owner thanks him warmly and asks,

"Can you transport it yourself or should I box it here and have it delivered to your address?"

"Oh, don't bother wrapping it," says the customer, "I'll eat it here."

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