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jargon (WPI) A cuspy but bogus raving story about N
random broken people.
Here is a classic example of the saga form, as told by GuySteele (GLS):
Jon L. White (login name JONL) and I (GLS) were office mates
at MIT for many years. One April, we both flew from Boston
to California for a week on research business, to consult
face-to-face with some people at Stanford, particularly our
mutual friend Richard Gabriel (RPG).
RPG picked us up at the San Francisco airport and drove us
back to Palo Alto (going logical south on route 101,
parallel to El Camino Bignum). Palo Alto is adjacent to
Stanford University and about 40 miles south of San Francisco.
We ate at The Good Earth, a "health food" restaurant, very
popular, the sort whose milkshakes all contain honey and
protein powder. JONL ordered such a shake - the waitress
claimed the flavour of the day was "lalaberry". I still have
no idea what that might be, but it became a running joke. It
was the colour of raspberry, and JONL said it tasted rather
bitter. I ate a better tostada there than I have ever had in
a Mexican restaurant.
After this we went to the local Uncle Gaylord's Old Fashioned
Ice Cream Parlor. They make ice cream fresh daily, in a
variety of intriguing flavours. It's a chain, and they have a
slogan: "If you don't live near an Uncle Gaylord's - MOVE!"
Also, Uncle Gaylord (a real person) wages a constant battle to
force big-name ice cream makers to print their ingredients on
the package (like air and plastic and other non-natural
garbage). JONL and I had first discovered Uncle Gaylord's the
previous August, when we had flown to a computer-science
conference in Berkeley, California, the first time either of
us had been on the West Coast. When not in the conference
sessions, we had spent our time wandering the length of
Telegraph Avenue, which (like Harvard Square in Cambridge) was
lined with picturesque street vendors and interesting little
shops. On that street we discovered Uncle Gaylord's Berkeley
store. The ice cream there was very good. During that August
visit JONL went absolutely bananas (so to speak) over one
particular flavour, ginger honey.
Therefore, after eating at The Good Earth - indeed, after
every lunch and dinner and before bed during our April visit
--- a trip to Uncle Gaylord's (the one in Palo Alto) was
mandatory. We had arrived on a Wednesday, and by Thursday
evening we had been there at least four times. Each time,
JONL would get ginger honey ice cream, and proclaim to all
bystanders that "Ginger was the spice that drove the Europeans
mad! That's why they sought a route to the East! They used
it to preserve their otherwise off-taste meat." After the
third or fourth repetition RPG and I were getting a little
tired of this spiel, and began to paraphrase him: "Wow!
Ginger! The spice that makes rotten meat taste good!" "Say!
Why don't we find some dog that's been run over and sat in the
sun for a week and put some *ginger* on it for dinner?!"
"Right! With a lalaberry shake!" And so on. This failed to
faze JONL; he took it in good humour, as long as we kept
returning to Uncle Gaylord's. He loves ginger honey ice
Now RPG and his then-wife KBT (Kathy Tracy) were putting us up
(putting up with us?) in their home for our visit, so to thank
them JONL and I took them out to a nice French restaurant of
their choosing. I unadventurously chose the filet mignon, and
KBT had je ne sais quoi du jour, but RPG and JONL had lapin
(rabbit). (Waitress: "Oui, we have fresh rabbit, fresh
today." RPG: "Well, JONL, I guess we won't need any
We finished the meal late, about 11 P.M., which is 2 A.M
Boston time, so JONL and I were rather droopy. But it wasn't
yet midnight. Off to Uncle Gaylord's!
Now the French restaurant was in Redwood City, north of Palo
Alto. In leaving Redwood City, we somehow got onto route 101
going north instead of south. JONL and I wouldn't have known
the difference had RPG not mentioned it. We still knew very
little of the local geography. I did figure out, however,
that we were headed in the direction of Berkeley, and
half-jokingly suggested that we continue north and go to Uncle
Gaylord's in Berkeley.
RPG said "Fine!" and we drove on for a while and talked. I
was drowsy, and JONL actually dropped off to sleep for 5
minutes. When he awoke, RPG said, "Gee, JONL, you must have
slept all the way over the bridge!", referring to the one
spanning San Francisco Bay. Just then we came to a sign that
said "University Avenue". I mumbled something about working
our way over to Telegraph Avenue; RPG said "Right!" and
maneuvered some more. Eventually we pulled up in front of an
Uncle Gaylord's.
Now, I hadn't really been paying attention because I was so
sleepy, and I didn't really understand what was happening
until RPG let me in on it a few moments later, but I was just
alert enough to notice that we had somehow come to the Palo
Alto Uncle Gaylord's after all.
JONL noticed the resemblance to the Palo Alto store, but
hadn't caught on. (The place is lit with red and yellow
lights at night, and looks much different from the way it does
in daylight.) He said, "This isn't the Uncle Gaylord's I went
to in Berkeley! It looked like a barn! But this place looks
*just like* the one back in Palo Alto!"
RPG deadpanned, "Well, this is the one *I* always come to when
I'm in Berkeley. They've got two in San Francisco, too.
Remember, they're a chain."
JONL accepted this bit of wisdom. And he was not totally
ignorant - he knew perfectly well that University Avenue was
in Berkeley, not far from Telegraph Avenue. What he didn't
know was that there is a completely different University
Avenue in Palo Alto.
JONL went up to the counter and asked for ginger honey. The
guy at the counter asked whether JONL would like to taste it
first, evidently their standard procedure with that flavour,
as not too many people like it.
JONL said, "I'm sure I like it. Just give me a cone." The
guy behind the counter insisted that JONL try just a taste
first. "Some people think it tastes like soap." JONL
insisted, "Look, I *love* ginger. I eat Chinese food. I eat
raw ginger roots. I already went through this hassle with the
guy back in Palo Alto. I *know* I like that flavour!"
At the words "back in Palo Alto" the guy behind the counter
got a very strange look on his face, but said nothing. KBT
caught his eye and winked. Through my stupor I still hadn't
quite grasped what was going on, and thought RPG was rolling
on the floor laughing and clutching his stomach just because
JONL had launched into his spiel ("makes rotten meat a dish
for princes") for the forty-third time. At this point, RPG
clued me in fully.
RPG, KBT, and I retreated to a table, trying to stifle our
chuckles. JONL remained at the counter, talking about ice
cream with the guy b.t.c., comparing Uncle Gaylord's to other
ice cream shops and generally having a good old time.
At length the g.b.t.c. said, "How's the ginger honey?" JONL
said, "Fine! I wonder what exactly is in it?" Now Uncle
Gaylord publishes all his recipes and even teaches classes on
how to make his ice cream at home. So the g.b.t.c. got out
the recipe, and he and JONL pored over it for a while. But
the g.b.t.c. could contain his curiosity no longer, and asked
again, "You really like that stuff, huh?" JONL said, "Yeah,
I've been eating it constantly back in Palo Alto for the past
two days. In fact, I think this batch is about as good as the
cones I got back in Palo Alto!"
G.b.t.c. looked him straight in the eye and said, "You're *in*
Palo Alto!"
JONL turned slowly around, and saw the three of us collapse in
a fit of giggles. He clapped a hand to his forehead and
exclaimed, "I've been hacked!"
[My spies on the West Coast inform me that there is a close
relative of the raspberry found out there called an
"ollalieberry" - ESR]
[Ironic footnote: it appears that the meme about ginger vs.
rotting meat may be an urban legend. It's not borne out by an
examination of mediaeval recipes or period purchase records
for spices, and appears full-blown in the works of Samuel
Pegge, a gourmand and notorious flake case who originated
numerous food myths. - ESR]