Bellaria faciunt, deserta appellant.
I sent this message to Hog’s Breath Cafe (Australia) Pty Ltd:
King Tantalus, an ancestor of Agamemnon and Menelaus, was punished, you may recall, for serving his dismembered and boiled son at a banquet for the gods. In the underworld, he was condemned to stand, famished and parched, perpetually in a pool of cool, clear water beneath a fecund fruit tree of many low branches laden with ripe, succulent fruit; whenever he reached for the inviting food, however, the branches moved teasingly just beyond his grasp, and whenever he bent down to cup some refreshing water, it too would recede frustratingly beyond his reach. From the punishment of Tantalus, we derive the verb tantalise—to torment someone with the sight or promise of something desirable but unobtainable.In an advertisement on commercial television, you announce that Hog’s Breath Cafes feature “tantalising desserts”. Now, I have never dined at one of your establishments, but the advertisements do not entice me to try my luck, because I don’t fancy having a trolley of appealing, tempting desserts wheeled before me only to be frustrated by my not being allowed to have one. Your advertisements suggest a scene such as this:Diner: I’d like a nice slice now of Mississippi Mud Cake, please.Waiter: I’m sorry, but we’ve run out.Diner: But I can see a whole cake over there!Waiter: Ah, that’s off, I’m afraid.Diner: Oh, all right, I’ll have some of your creamy, calorific Strawberry & Chocolate Fondue, then.Waiter: It’s rather runny.Diner: I like it runny.Waiter: Sorry, the cat’s got into it.Diner: Some Pav?Waiter: We’ll have some on Tuesday. ...What is your practice? Do you wave delicious desserts under the noses of diners and then tell them that they can’t have any? Perhaps, if you do provide real desserts, you could use a more appropriate adjective, such as enticing, appealing, tempting or even irresistible—but not tantalising.
UPDATE I (25 November): I have so far received no response to the e-mail I sent Monday, so I resubmitted the message by way of the Hog’s Breath Cafe “General Enquiry Form”.
UPDATE II (25 November): I received today a condescending e-mail from Rodney Winkleman, Operations Director, Hog’s Breath Cafe (Australia) Pty Ltd:
Thank you for taking the time to email in with the following information. I take your feedback on board and will make consideration to amendments when we next shoot a commercial.
UPDATE III (21 November, 2012): a year later and the advertisements for Hog’s Breath Cafes still feature the silly claim that the deserts are tantalising.