Based (very loosely) on a true story. This is another one of me and my friends’ random conversations over dinner a few nights ago taken to yet another ridiculous and absurd conclusion. There will be a quiz later.
It was on a gloomy Friday evening that me and a couple of friends found ourselves in front of the old Italian restaurant. Neon beer signs glowed in the windows on one side of the building, and the decor of the place seemed to suggest that Julius Caesar himself probably ate here at some point, and they hadn’t bothered to do much remodeling since then. Still, you never know when you might find a hidden gem in a dive like this, and I figured it was worth a shot.
As we approached the front door, the faint sound of accordion music began to emanate from the inside of the restaurant. Instantly I recognized the tune as one of the standard cliché songs you hear any time someone on TV needs something to sound Italian. As I opened the front door, a pair of singers could be heard from some back corner of the room. A quick look around confirmed that the place might have looked reasonably fancy at some point, but the decor inside looked almost as shopworn as the exterior, and yet the place was surprisingly busy. Nobody was at the front counter, so as I waited I grabbed a menu and took a look. It quickly became clear that the only thing luxurious in this place was the prices on the menu. But before I could look up, a waiter in a dinner jacket and bowtie appeared in front of me.
“Can I help you?”
“Yes, a table for 3 please.”
“Would you like smoking, or non-smoking?”
“Non-smoking, of course.”
“And would you like accordion or non-accordion?”
The place wasn’t exactly all that huge, but I figured it’s tough to carry on a conversation with an accordion blasting in your ears, so slightly less accordion might be a good thing.
“Ok then, you’d like the non-smoking, non-accordion section. You will have to wait a bit, but if you’d like I could get you a table in the smoking accordion section.”
“No, we’ll… Wait, what?”
“The smoking accordion section. It’s one of the loveliest corners in our fine restaurant.”
“That may be, but why is it a smoking accordion section? Did someone accidentally light their accordion on fire?”
“Of course not, that would be absurd. You see, many years ago there was a great master accordion craftsman in the Italian village of Castelfidardo by the name of Giovanni Carini who crafted some of the finest accordions this world has ever seen, but he so enjoyed smoking his pipe that he could not bear to be without it. One day in 1879, he got a brilliant idea to build an accordion with a pipe built in, so he could play his accordion and smoke his pipe at the same time. “
“Soon he carried his accordion everywhere he went. Everywhere he went, people praised his fine smoking accordion, and soon everyone wanted one. He always wanted to make people happy, so he made sure each of his children, and each of his grandchildren got a smoking accordion of their own. One of our accordion players has one of these fine instruments, which sounds a bit different from a regular one. And yet, some people prefer the sound of the normal accordion, so we offer different sections with each one.”
“But didn’t I say I wanted the non-accordion section?”
“Ah, you see, we don’t have much room here, so you may have to think of our non-accordion section as more of a less accordion section.” This was starting to get just a little bit confusing.
“Well, OK… The non-smoking accordion section, I guess.”
“And would you prefer the smoking accordion smoking section, or the smoking accordion non-smoking section?
“Didn’t I say I didn’t want to be in the smoking section?”
“So you’ll want the non-smoking accordion smoking non-smoking accordion non-accordion non-smoking section then? Very well.”
“Wait a minute here, what’s all this about smoking accordion smoking?
“You see, our accordion player isn’t the only one here with a smoking accordion. Many of Mister Carini’s grandchildren immigrated to this area over a hundred years ago, each bringing their prized smoking accordions along. They have now been passed down through generations, and the great-great grandchildren who own the prized smoking accordions are now some of our most loyal customers. As with Mister Carini himself, they too travel everywhere with their smoking accordions. But not all of them smoke their smoking accordions, so we need to have a smoking accordion smoking section and a smoking accordion non-smoking section.”
“Ah, I see,” I said, even though it was pretty clearly a lie. “But what if I don’t want to be near any smoking accordions, smoking or otherwise?”
“Oh, then you’ll be wanting the non-smoking accordion smoking accordion non-smoking smoking section then?”
“Or was it the non-smoking accordion smoking accordion non-smoking non-smoking section? I’m sorry sir, I seem to have forgotten what you wanted.”
By now I might have been getting just a little bit impatient. “What if I don’t want any freakin’ accordions anywhere near me?”
“That depends, sir. are you looking for the non-smoking accordion non-smoking accordion smoking smoking section or the non-smoking accordion non-smoking accordion smoking non-smoking section? There shouldn’t be too many accordions in either of those I should think.”
“Actually, now that I think of it, I think we might have had to put a smoking accordion smoker in the non-smoking accordion non-smoking accordion smoking non-smoking section tonight. I’d have to find out if he’s smoking his smoking accordion in order to figure out if it’s the non-smoking accordion non-smoking accordion smoking smoking section or the non-smoking accordion non-smoking accordion smoking non-smoking section right now.
“Or I just had a lovely little table open up, but it’s in the smoking accordion section next to some smoking accordion non-smokers…”
“Oh, you mean the smoking accordion non-smoking accordion smoking non-smoking section?”
“Actually, I believe it’s in the smoking accordion non-smoking accordion smoking smoking section. Unless the smoking accordion has switched places with the non-smoking accordion, in which case it would now be the non-smoking accordion non-smoking accordion smoking non-smoking section… Or was that the non-smoking accordion non-smoking accordion smoking smoking section? You’ll have to bear with me sir, I occasionally have trouble keeping track of these things.”
“Gee, I wonder why.”
“Either that, or it appears I also have a table in the non-smoking accordion smoking accordion smoking non-smoking section… But the smoking accordion smokers don’t smoke their accordions much there.”
“Actually, I was hoping for a section without any smoking accordion, without any non-smoking accordion, without any smoking accordion smoking and without any smoking accordion non-smoking.”
“Did you mean the non-smoking accordion non-non-smoking accordion non smoking accordion smoking non-smoking accordion non-smoking smoking section or the non-smoking accordion non-non-smoking accordion non smoking accordion smoking non-smoking accordion non-smoking non-smoking section?”
“Um… Whichever one of those has the most non-smoking in it, I guess.”
“Unfortunately, we’re all booked up in that section, but if you’d like, I think the smoking accordion player should be off by 9, and the smoking accordion non-non-smoking accordion non-smoking accordion smoking non-smoking accordion non-smoking smoking section should be a non-smoking accordion non-non-smoking accordion non-smoking accordion smoking non-smoking accordion non-smoking non-smoking section, assuming there aren’t any non-smoking accordion smoking smokers in that area by then. Would that work?”
“Um… On second thought, do you happen to do take-out?”