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Have you ever found yourself at a party when the conversation starts getting really slow and finally turns duller than a selectmen’s sub-committee meeting, until it eventually rolls over, heaves a deep, sigh and expires right there on the living room floor? Sure you have. Well, I’ve got the solution for you for the next time you’re at one of these lame get-togethers: Maine trivia. Nothing brings a dull party back to life faster.
Say you're at a party that's peopled by your chic, sophisticated types and suddenly the smart conversation is deader than a door-nail. So, what do you do?
Say: “Did you know that Maine's city of Eastport is the first place in the United States to receive the new day's sunlight?” An opener like that may require further explanation so, rather than let the party die again, quickly add: “The reason we in Maine are allowed to see the sun first -- if we bother to get up that early in the first place -- is because we are farther to the east than any state on the eastern seaboard.”
I bet you that after that statement’s full implications are understood by the assembled partygoers, the conversation -- with enough adult beverages – will spring back to life. For example, once the whole subject of eastern-ness is raised, a logical question will come to mind: “How come the most EASTERN point of land in the United States goes by the name of WEST Quoddy Head?”
(As far as I know there is no logical answer to that question so just ignore it and move on.)
You may then ask: “Did you know that Maine is the only state whose name has only one syllable?” I know that sounds numb, but you'd be surprised at how many beautiful people at a dull party will latch on to a silly fact like that as if they were grabbing the last lifejacket on the deck of a sinking ship.
Play that for all it’s worth, then say: “And did you know that Maine is the only state of the contiguous 48 states that is bordered by only one other state?” You can clearly see by now how you’ll become the life of the party with all your fun facts.
If things are going REALLY well you might want to explain: "Even though we're the only state of the lower 48 that is bordered by only one other state, unfortunately for us that one state just happens to be New Hampshire.”
Then say something about how we in Maine may have our issues with New Hampshire, but no matter how contentious those issues may get, we in Maine can never thank the people of New Hampshire enough for providing a buffer, however narrow, between us and the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. A line like that will always score points with the New Hampshire people at the party but may ruffle the feathers of the Massachusetts people who are there, at least the ones still coherent enough to understand what you're saying.
If you want to wrap up with a flourish, say: “Did you know that 90 percent of our country's toothpicks are made right here in Maine?” The way the world market is changing these days I don't know if that's still true but the beautiful people at the party aren't likely to know that anyway.
Party on!
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly throughout
New England. Contact John at or 899-1868.
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