Community Columns

Everyday absurdities are found everywhere

Recently a friend and I planned a lunch date. We selected an out-of-the-way location for a change of scene and some serious gal talk.

We met in the parking lot of the chosen lunch spot. After a few minutes of “It’s been too long, you look wonderful” prattle, we entered the cafà . We found a table, and it was then I sensed that something was odd. Gradually it dawned on me: Although all the tables were occupied, there wasn’t a morsel of food in sight.

While we were scrutinizing the menu, the server appeared and took our beverage order. She returned with our iced teas and asked, “Decided on lunch?”

But before we could give our order, she said, “We only have hot soup.”

“It’s 1 p.m. and 90-plus degrees and you’re only serving hot soup?” says I.

My friend chimed in, “Can you make a grilled cheese sandwich?”

“Nope,” the server said. “We don’t have cheese. We’re out of everything.”

We were shocked into silence. The server thought for a moment and brightly offered, “I can make jelly sandwiches.”

By this time, the other patrons were listening intently to our dialogue.

A gal at the next table asked, “What can we order besides a jelly sandwich and soup?”

“Nothing, we’re waiting for a delivery.”

We’d heard enough. My friend and I rose simultaneously and left.

We returned to our customary hunting grounds and had a lovely lunch. Naturally, the conversation veered back to the other establishment.

My friend commented, “How absurd! Jelly sandwiches and hot soup in the middle of the summer.”

Nodding in agreement, I added, “What a way to run a business. Maybe they’re experiencing a shortfall.”

We left it at that.

Absurdities creep into our lives more times than not. Take our silly relationship with food, for instance.

How many of us will make a big show of watching our calories by ordering a salad — and then we top it off with … cheesecake, of course. Folks will eat a Big Mac with fries and wash them down with a Diet Coke, or … (name your own silliness).

I find it preposterous that hot dogs come 10 to a pack and buns come eight or 12 to a pack. And really, how can “fresh-squeezed orange juice” be fresh when it’s poured from a carton?

Let’s look at political double-speak absurdities.

The politician is handsome, the wife comely, the children perfect — a regular Norman Rockwell family. He is all about family values. Then, oops! A baby materializes, the outcome of an affair. First come the denials, then the mea culpas.

The press has a field day. The wounded party is telling her story to Oprah or Larry King. A book deal is coming down the pike and it promises to be a best-seller.

Change the names and this scenario is replayed ad nauseam. “Tsk, tsk,” we say, but who makes the book a best-seller? How bizarre that we tune into this stuff and tune out the important issues of the day.

Then there are the “holier than thou” absurdities.

I’ve got a big problem with “isms.” When folks gush via e-mail or otherwise about their love of God, I get it! How strange, however, when the tone of their conversation or e-mail implies racism, sexism or intolerance against our gay brothers and sisters.

Then we have the really, really absurd.

Take the massive theme park proposed for the 755-acre site at Calverton. The ski mountain tops it off. (No pun intended.) How can this endeavor be seriously undertaken? Up to now, the Riverhead Resorts group has missed two contractual deadlines and owes the town $3.8 million. Most citizens know this is pure folly; perhaps the Resorts folks are connecting the dots, too.

I’m far from a cynic, but I do call the shots as I see them. And sometimes I just gotta wonder.

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.