Having competed at the American Puzzling Championships and done your state proud, you begin the long drive back home.

'This is the life' you think with music pumping out and the desert wind in your hair.'All I need is something yummy to tuck into-and since I don't have any blondes here now, I'll have to make do with sandwiches'-which you realize dejectedly are sat on the table back at Puzzle Hall...Oh dear.

You're grateful to see in the distance the lights of what seems to be a diner. As you get nearer, you see with relief the large green mermaid poised on the sign that tells you not only in the desert does any woman look welcoming, but there's a Starbucks ahead. Boy do they get everywhere.


On walking in, you're impressed-this is a posh place for such a remote location. Everything is immaculate-the black and white chequer floor is spotless. There's a poster on the wall inviting you to holiday on sunny Oahu- but from the window next to it, the landscape is even more superb- you can see the top of a peak disappearing into the clouds-it even has snow on its cap! They've even done the place up for Valentine's-under a sign saying 'A present for your darling' are bunches of traditional Valentine's flowers.

Before you can go up to order, a huge bank of mist pours in across the front of the counter so it disappears completely. As you flap frantically to waft it out of your eyes and see where you are going, a voice emerges from it.

'Ah there you are. Top o'the morning to you. Sorry about this-it's to keep you away from me.' Sheesh, Starbucks really have increased security haven't they! And the most beautiful coffee server you have ever seen emerges out of the haze. Not only has she a got a stunning visage, she has a gorgeous bust-which she has caught you looking at...so you quickly pretend you're looking at some sort of award pinned next to her chest.

'Welcome to our shop.So where have you come from?'

'American Puzzling Championships'

'Oh really? And how did you do there then?'

'Got through to the fifth round'.

'Impressive. Well, let's get you fed then. I can do you a jacket spud with scallion'.

'That sounds good to me. How about some cheese to go inside it?'

'Ah, now if that's what you're wanting, you have to do it on that table over there. I can't be doing that for you now'

And indeed on the table behind you are the accompaniments with a small sign- "Chilli/Cheese/Tuna/Beans..(ONE ONLY!) 10c. Please put money into the hole provided.

'You're a puzzling champ then-hmm then this'll test you to be sure. Many have tried but none have succeeded. You see back in the old country, a leprechaun put a spell on me. I'm imprisoned behind this counter forever until it's solved and then I shall not only be free, but I have pledged to wed the man who solves it.'

Oh great. Why do the pretty ones always have to be completely bonkers?

'So what you need to do is choose two items for me and two for you and throw them into the mist. If you're right, you get me as your betrothed. If not, you get....' and she makes a squashing motion.

And there on a large chair under the window is a selection of items laid out and a small sign.


What a mind-boggling selection of items are there....

a salt shaker a cauliflower a roulette wheel and balls a drawing of the zodiac a cogwheel a lump of beeswax a bowl of mixed fruit a small packet of butter a bag with arrows in a champagne cork a chunk of natural honey a diamond

Confident that this is no match for an experienced puzzler, you choose your two objects, her two objects...and await your fate...

  • $\begingroup$ So far, the nearest thing to a thought I've had is that a small packet of butter might be a pat, a suggestive word indeed in this context. That would be more promising if the title didn't apparently indicate that the server's name is Florence :-). $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Mar 10, 2017 at 15:30
  • $\begingroup$ Her name is indeed Florence. And she won't take kindly to you patting any bit of her... $\endgroup$ Mar 11, 2017 at 22:43
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, I was thinking more that Pat is a stereotypically Irish name. $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Mar 11, 2017 at 23:30
  • $\begingroup$ Kinda weird that she won't let you pet her, but she would marry you... Sounds like, maybe, she's trying to commit immigration fraud. >_> $\endgroup$
    – mr23ceec
    Jun 22, 2017 at 12:43
  • $\begingroup$ Can you clarify "a bag with arrows in a champagne cork?" $\endgroup$
    – Forklift
    Jun 22, 2017 at 13:05

2 Answers 2


some ideas:

First of all, the protagonist is either from Nevada or New Mexico. I have a hunch we'll have to spell one of those out.

As for how to do that,

  • a salt shaker is a "pot"

  • a cauliflower is a "cole"

  • a drawing of the zodiac is either "wheel" or, less likely, "sign"

  • a cogwheel is a "gear"

  • a lump of beeswax is "comb"

  • a bowl of mixed fruit... I actually don't know, I was thinking of Trail Mix, but that would need to be dried fruit, and it would contain nuts. Too many assumptions.

  • a small packet of butter is a "pat"

  • a bag with arrows is "quiver"

  • a champagne cork... again, no idea.

  • a chunk of natural honey... another comb? what would make it unnatural, anyway?

  • a diamond is "coal" (carbon) or "gem"

can't really spell "Florence" or "Nevada" with those, though...

but another idea based off the same concept is:

two of those are similar: we have 2 honeycombs and 2 cole/coals. Presumably she would get the 2 honey items (Urban dictionary says it's slang for "hot girl") and Cole is a male name (sorry for being heterocentric here,) so perhaps that one is for the protagonist?

  • $\begingroup$ Bringing this one back up from the dead,since it deserves more than mourners...You might have to read the story from all angles,upsidedown,backwards,forwards....perhaps check out every item in the restaurant... $\endgroup$ Oct 10, 2017 at 23:17

Do i get squished?


I take 'jacket spud with scallion' and 'Cheese' for potato
And i give her '10c' for cheese and 'traditional Valentine's flower' because of love
Doesn't make 100% sense, since its weird to pay for cheese but not for flowers or potato

Edit: Obviously i realise that the 10c for the cheese go into the designated hole! I'm a puzzle champion, obviously i know that. I smoothly correct my mistake and in one swooping motion gives her the diamond(traditional marry-like object) instead to go with the flowers as i descend on one knee.


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