My friend, Bill, and I got into a discussion concerning which one of us knew more about Vermont geography. When we saw a mutual buddy, Pat, approaching, I made an impromptu bet with Bill. “I’ll bet you $5 I can work the names of at least 40 Vermont towns into a conversation with Pat,” I said. “All you have to do is watch and count.”

“You’re on,” Bill responded. It went something like this:

Me: Hello there, Pat. How you doing? I was just telling Bill how you used to think my last name was Albany.

Pat: What is it? Alberg, Right?

Me: Albury, Pat, Albury. There are all kinds of berries. You’ve got your old berries, your Newbury’s; your Middlebury’s, your Sudbury’s. Oh, and don’t forget your Woodbury’s and Waterbury’s and, of course, your Craftbury’s. I, my friend, am Albury.

Pat: Albury? More like all nuts.

Me: Say, what are you Reading? I’m reading Warren peace.

Pat: How about that.

Me: (singing) To bring your precious love, baby please don’t treat me bad …

Pat: Is that Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman?”

Me: Actually, I was singing the Michael Bolton version. I think Barre Manilow sang the original version. At Woodstock.

Pat: What are you talking about? Barry Manilow never sang that song. And he was never at Woodstock.

Me: Hey, Pat, remember that lady with the big dog who used to live down by the post office?

Pat: Sharon? What about her?

Me: Oh, nothing. Did you read in the paper the other day how some guy tried to drive his semi over an out of the Weybridge in Weathersfield? He thought it was a six Tunbridge. Unfortunately, the limit was four tons, and he wrecked the structure. The highway department in Weathersfield is going to spend a lot of time Mendon that thing. The cop who responded had the driver Andover his license on the spot.

Pat: Wow. Really interesting.

Me: I feel like that guy on “The Big Bang Theory” who doesn’t understand sarcasm.

Pat: Sheldon.

Me: Right. Guess what I just bought? A lottery ticket. I’ll tell you what, if I win anything over a Grand Isle take a few days off from work just for the heck of it.

Pat: No kidding.

Me: You ever feel like some letters of the alphabet are not used enough in the English language? For example, I wish that we could use the Elmore.

Pat: That’s pretty random.

Me: I’m Fairlee certain I said it for a reason. And speaking of saying something for a reason, I’ve been watching some old shows on the TV Land network.

Pat: I love that network. Those Bonanza reruns are great.

Me: Personally, I enjoy Mr. Belvidere and Benson. Hey, where has your wife been? I’ve haven’t seen her in a while.

Pat: Ruth went on a trip.

Me: Jamaica?

Pat: No, she wanted to go.

Me: Ha! Can never get enough of those old classics. Seriously though, where did she go? Doesn’t she have family down south? Baltimore? Charleston? Greensboro? Oh, wait, it begins with a Jay …

Pat: Georgia.

Me: Yeah, that’s it.

Pat: Georgia begins with a “G.”

Me: Whatever. So, yesterday I was talking to my friend, Daniel Battista, or Danby as I like to call him. Anyway, he was telling me that he opened his refrigerator and there was a rabbit in it. He asked the rabbit, “What are you doing here?”

And the rabbit said, “This is a Westinghouse isn’t it?” And he said, “Yes it is.” And the rabbit said, “Well I’m Weston.”

Get it? Brighton up, it was just a bad joke.

Pat: Mark, I really should get going.

Bill: That’s 33.

Pat: What?

Me: Uh, nothing, hey, what do you think of my new hat? It’s similar to a Derby.

Pat: Very nice.

Me: I’m kinda craving some vitamin C. I really could go for an Orange, or a Pomfret.

Pat: A pomfret?

Me: Isn’t that a citrus fruit?

Pat: It’s a species of fish.

Me: Oh. Did you see that big sign on Route 2 in Middlesex that says im Peacham? I’ll tell you what, I’m sure grateful to Washington and Lincoln for our day off next month. How about … Pat, wait, wait, where are you going?

Pat: Gotta run. See ya!

Bill: Let him go, you got 39. But I’m so impressed I’m going to give you the $5.

I’ve got to admit, I was so sure I could work at least 40 names of Vermont towns into a conversation that it felt like a hollow Victory.

Mark S. Albury lives in Northfield Falls.

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