The Menu

So, once again Frank and Tipsy were summoned by the voyeuristic writer. I am bored, the writer said, and asked Frank and Tipsy to talk.
Tipsy did not quite like her existence which was suspended and reincarnated at the will of some whacko writer. So she said – “Frank, can we refuse to talk and let this writer go to hell?” Now, that was interesting to the writer because by all usual criteria for hell and heaven the writer was indeed destined to go to hell – however he claimed himself to be an agnostic and had postponed the question of God’s existence or non-existence to some peaceful old age, which, God willing, he may just get.
Anyway Frank was the quintessential logician and said – “Tipsy, my dearest, even if we talk about not talking we are still talking and this writer, on whose after life destiny we can return to at a later date, still wins”
Tipsy was not one to be silenced (which, the writer interjects, defeats her purpose) and wanted to continue this discussion – “Don’t you feel like a toy in the hands of this egotistical bastard? Don’t you want to register your protest in some way? Don’t you want to make a token note of disapproval even if it won’t mean a thing?”
Frank was of course in love with Tipsy, it had already been written. It was impossible for Frank to empathize with Tipsy, and, it was very difficult to frame a response which would neither betray Frank’s conscience (or lack thereof) nor hurt Tipsy. Still, as we have mentioned Frank was a champion at logic and realized that faced with the impossible and very difficult the prudent choice is the very difficult.
So, Frank said – “Tipsy, I wish I had your youthful enthusiasm, I wish I were a romantic like you, I wish I thought that I could change the world. I don’t say that that I wish I could change the world, I only wish that I thought that I could. Then perhaps I would have questioned the writer, would have revolted against the scheme of things that he has set. If you really think about it the characters in the world that are real face the same problem- they have been thrown into a world the structure of which they don’t control. Some turn a blind eye to the structure or the lack of it and worship the benevolence of the Creator and some deny His existence and still others like our friend, the writer, claim that they care a hoot. But all of them must make do with what has been laid out. You can order anything from the menu but the menu is what it is”
Tipsy was involved now. She always liked to talk to Frank, and, for the moment she was willing to suspend her protest against the writer. She said in a sad tone – “At the risk of abusing eastern mysticism I must say that if I am fire – you are water and you are much more water than I am fire, if you insist on interacting with me then eventually I will go out – there will be nothing left of me- perhaps you would be warmer. So, should we continue this, oh Frank, I have perhaps never told you, but I love you. I can’t let you go even if it means my annihilation”
Frank felt an overpowering sadness rush through him, there was just one thing that was holding him to life, and that was Tipsy. Tipsy had fire, but would a Tipsy devoid of fire be Tipsy? Did fire define Tipsy or was it just incidental?
“There is more to you than fire; there is more to me than water. These are just attributes inflicted upon is by chance, when your fire is extinguished and my water is warm we’ll see that there is more to us than these attributes”
Tipsy gave this a thought, then gave it another and then gave it still another. Frank waited, Frank waited a little more, and Frank waited still more. Tipsy was giving more thoughts to what Frank had said; she was a spendthrift with her thoughts today. Frank did not have patience in a matching quantity and he blurted – “Say something! What are you thinking?”
“I haven’t decided yet.”
“Not decided what? What to say or what to think?”
“Make me a party to your thoughts”
“Frank, let me ask you a question – suppose there is a mad guy who keeps talking nonsense – and another guy passes by and listens to the mad guy, and this guy thinks the mad guy is talking sense and is greatly influenced by the mad guy’s outpourings. Who is more insane?”
Frank has to collect his thoughts for a moment to decide whether he was being complimented or critiqued. But Frank had been blessed with an inherent inexhaustible immodesty and chose the former. The mood was set for his philosophizing and he began- “Normally I don’t like to resort to quotations but I will give you one – ‘Sanity is statistical’ – there are no absolute parameters to judge what is sane and what is insane and in the absence of these parameters we resort to an empirical analysis – what is deemed by the majority as sane is sane and vice versa. However, to answer you question the passer by is not really influenced by the outpourings of the madman – instead he finds the madman’s sayings a reflection of his own thoughts. Or, let’s say, he chooses to interpret the gibberish in his own way. It is this interpretation that is important not what the madman actually said.”
This was going around in too many circles, thought Tipsy. If she agreed with Frank was she really agreeing with herself? She felt hungry.
“Where are we sitting anyway?” she asked Frank.
“The writer hasn’t told us as yet – let’s look around. Looks like a restaurant to me- in sharp contradiction to the bars he usually seats us in- looks like he’s getting older,” said Frank.
“My dear Frank, you speak of the writer as a friend. Sometimes I wonder whether you are a partner in his crime- there is no malevolence towards him that I can detect”
“I am not disposed to be malevolent; to him I owe your magnificent company, what complaint can I have against him?”
Vanity, it is said, is the devil’s favorite sin – and by extension it must be the most irresistible temptation known to humans. And, of course, Tipsy was human though we choose to retain certain doubts about Frank. So, Tipsy felt better and was suddenly better disposed towards Frank, and grudgingly, towards the writer as well.
She looked around for the waiter – there were quite a few walking around but all looked busy. Then, she hailed one.
“Excuse me,” she said. The waiter arrived, his entry was theatrical – he heeded the call, walked a few steps then halted, looked in all the directions, thought deeply for a while – as if making a decision whether to destroy the earth or not and then proceeded.
He began what eventually turned out to be a tirade- “My name is Harish – I repeat for your convenience Harish. Even better I shall write it down for you.” He took out a crayon from his pocket and wrote his name on a napkin. Please be so kind as to note it is not Harry-ish .. it is hurry-eesh; and make sure you don’t pause between the hurry and eesh, it makes me nervous and you wouldn’t want a bowl of hot curry dropped on you. Ha ha ha. I must, in all modesty, comment on your lack of preparation for the exquisite event of visiting a restaurant. You are so callous, and when I say you I mean all the people who go to restaurants. You spend a lot of time on the Internet looking at profiles of people on social networking sites you wouldn’t want to talk to and still you come in here without visiting the website . That, my dear Sir, and my dear madam is the most important website ever designed in the history of the Internet. You will find the profiles of all the waiters of all the restaurants in the world on that website so that you don’t have to address us as ‘Excuse Me’. There is not a single waiter in the world who is called ‘Excuse Me’. So if you insist on calling any of us by this abominable epithet your chances of getting the name right are exactly zero. So the next time please do visit this website, I implore you to. So, what may I get you?”
“The menu,” said Frank meekly. He couldn’t risk any comment on the tirade lest it brought upon another one.
“Aha, the menu,” Harish chuckled, “I am sorry sir we don’t get you the menu- you must go to the menu. If you step outside the restaurant, there is a one hundred storey building each floor of which has about twenty rooms. Inside each room, for your convenience, we have stacked menus as books in a library. You are free to take as long as you want, and once you have made your choice, please come back and order; you will be served”
So Frank and Tipsy stepped into the building. Frank had a simple plan – just take the first item of the first menu in the first room on the first floor. He told Tipsy about his brilliant plan. Tipsy was aghast – “I must look at as many as I can, for one I want to have something I have never had before”
Meanwhile the waiter was laughing; there is of course a single letter that differentiates the waiter from the writer.

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