I was sitting on the bench in Kennedy Memorial Park, finishing a grape slurpee I had just purchased from the 7-eleven across the street on Oakwood Avenue, when the Vermont dude sat down next to me. He must have been sixty or seventy years old, with a long pointed nose, straight white hair, and small sharp eyes that peered out at me from wire eyeglasses. His cotten pants were much too tight; they were so short that I could view his white ankles which stuck out from old brown shoes. His pink-and-white shirt was striped; somehow, it reminded me of a stick of peppermint candy. He wore a tiny red bow-tie around his skinny long neck. The man struck me as belonging to another decade; possibly even another century.
I had no intention of wasting my time with this odd character. The hot July sun was beating down heavily on me, and I had business to attend to down the street on Park Road. I was just about to stand up and walk to my car when the eccentric-looking man addressed me.
"You from this town, Herbert Hoover?" he inquired in a high-pitched voice. I thought that he had some kind of New England accent.
"Oh, yeah," I replied apprehensively. I was embarrassed and chided myself for speaking to the oddball. Why did all the weird ones have to come to West Hartford, Connecticut? But as I regarded his kind, friendly eyes, something in his manner made me sit back down upon the rusty old bench.
"I come from Vermont," he informed me. "And the main difference between here and there, is that you have crack-heads, and we have cheddah-heads," he said matter-of factly. I suspected that he had us confused with th neighboring city of Hartford, but I kept silent.
"Now, I've been reading in the newspapahs, 'bout all these gangs fighting in the streets here. And it reminds me of the time, some of the boys from Maine, and some of us cheddah-heads from Vermont. got into a rumble. You see, some of us boys from Vermont were on vacation in Maine's Kennebunkport, when we were suddenly surrounded by some of the local fellahs, who claimed we were on their turf. There was one pahticulah fellah, with a set of green teeth, who got into my face and asked me, 'Didn't I know that he was from the street?' I said, 'What street is that, whipper-snapper? Sesame Street? Is that Cookie Monster in yah posse?' Well, he didn't like that," the Vermont Dude informed me.
"So, we arranged for a rumble in the pahking lot outside of Ben and Jerrys. Well, we waited for the boys from Maine to show up. And they did. Wearing their lobster bibs 'round their neckss, and brandishing lobstah nutcrackahs, in an attempt to intimidate us," he said witha straight face.
"Well, we waited for them to make their move. And they waited for us to make ours. And frankly, thah was a lot of waiting, and very little moving. All of a sudden, someone's truck backfired. The boys from Maine, and the boys from Vermont; well, we ran into the ice-cream pahlah, and hid under the tables," he admitted.
"And that was when Ben and Jerry came up with a new ice-cream flavah. Chicken-shit New Englanders," he told me.
The Vermont Dude was silent for a moment. I didn't know whether to laugh or get my ass out of there. But apparently, he was finished speaking. He stood up, then walked silently into the West Hartford dusk.
That was the last I ever saw of the Vermont Dude. None of my friends belived me when I told them the story. And I have searched in every frozen section of every West Hartford supermarket, never finding Ben and Jerry's "Chicken-shit New Englanders".
Maybe they only sell it in Vermont.
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