It is rumored that I sometimes make up things which appear in this column. I cannot confirm nor deny these reports. However, I want to assure you that the events which I am about to relate are absolutely, or nearly absolutely, true.
Here are the facts.
Ipswich art gallery. New exhibition. Fancy opening-night reception. Refreshments. Lovely.
But in preparation for said exhibition opening-night reception, the gallery director asks her husband to order up a veggie tray from a local grocery store. And the husband chooses (the grocery store itself shall remain nameless), which is not an Ipswich grocery store.
And the trouble begins.
The gallery director (to make this easier to follow, I’ll just call her Susan K. Burton) places the order from the (insert other town’s name here) grocery store, then wonders if she made the right call. Will they produce said veggie tray on the designated date? Or will the fine-art patrons be forced to go veggieless and dipless, because of a dopey grocery-store blunder?
So Susan K. Burton decides, a few hours before the start of said gallery exhibition reception, to place a phone call to said (other town) grocery store.
Cue the nightmare.
Susan K. Burton is not from around here. She is from a place called Ohio. She has lived here in Ipswich for decades, and has immersed herself in the life and culture of New England, but her pronunciation of the English language is still decidedly Midwestern. To my ear — I learned to speak English in the decidedly Midwestern town of Griffith, Indiana, outside Chicago — Susan K. Burton speaks perfectly normal English. But now she is on the phone with a young adult who has clearly never before been forced to interact verbally with someone who speaks perfectly normal Ohioan English. This young person is, I would guess, 17th generation Massachusettsian. This young man is descended from the first generation of post-Masconomet locals.
So the phone conversation about the order is, shall we say, difficult.
“What name is the awduh undah?”
“I beg ya pahdon?”
“Could you spell that, please?”
“Yes. T … as in … uh, Tom.”
“Yes. Where I come from, we say Tom.”
“OK, I gawt it. T. What’s next?”
“As in, Oh my God.”
“No, God! God! The deity!”
“Oh! You mean Gawd!”
“This is a veggie tray. It’s not a High Holy Day of Obligation. The order is under the name of Tom Burton. Tom Burton!”
“OK, I think I see it heah.”
“Oh, thank God.”
Epilogue: The gallery exhibition reception turned out fine. The (other town) grocery store produced the awduh of said gallery director. It’s possible that said gallery director will never again awduh a veggie tray from said grocery staw. But that’s entiahly up to huh.