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.
CHOOSE WISELY.RIGHT ITEM,RIGHT REASON-YOU GET THE GIRL TO MARRY YOU.WRONG ITEM,WRONG REASON-YOU GET SQUISHED.
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...