Many humorous stories in Maine are made up, or are gross exaggerations. There's also, in humorist Joe Perham's words, "a certain amount of borrowing that goes on" between storytellers, which may be the case with a story Tim Sample, another Maine humorist, likes to tell:
An elderly gentleman with an expensive summer cottage passes on. "One of his daughters decides to visit. She comes by train, and the caretaker picks her up. As he's driving her to the cottage, he turns and says, 'Nice day, ain't it?'
"She says, 'Excuse me, I don't pay you to have a conversation with me.' The caretaker says nothing, and the rest of the summer he goes about his business.
"At the end of the summer, he submits his tab. At the bottom there's a $20 charge and no explanation as to what it's for. She says, 'What, may I ask, is that $20 charge on there for?'
"He says, 'That, dear, is for sass. I don't often take it, and when I do, I charge for it.' "
Kendall Morse claims to have "come from a family of very humorous people - both sides of my family."
Mr. Morse says his aunt once sent his uncle to get wood for the fire. As soon as he got out the door, his son drove by and asked his dad if he wanted to go for a ride. They went to New York, and came back three days later. "He remembered when he got back what he originally went out for. So he grabbed an armful of wood and went into the house."
As soon as his wife sees him, she demands to know where he's been.
"He dropped the wood in the box and said, 'You wouldn't believe how dull that ax is!' "
According to Morse, "I was sitting in a restaurant in Machais just listening to people talk. These two young fellows sat at the next booth. The gist of the conversation was that Machais is so small, it was hard to find women to date.
"Finally one of them said, 'Heck, I've dated every woman in Machais except my mother and my sister.'
" 'The other guy said, 'Don't feel bad. You ain't missing nothing.' "
*Information about a number of Maine humorists is at mainehumor.com. Tim Sample's Web site is timsample.com
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society