Even if you’ve never listened to a recording of the “Bert & I” stories, you know who they are.
They are the voice of “Pep-pa-Ridge Faaam remembas.”
They are why you smile when someone says “A-yuh.”
They are George Utley, the character actor Tom Poston played in Bob Newhart’s TV series about a New England bed-and-breakfast. And even if you’ve never heard the classic “How do I get to East Vassalboro?” you know it.
It’s the set-up for a current TV ad for an online hotel reservation service that has the cool couple in their expensive sedan asking a gas station guy (who looks like George Utley—overalls, farm hat, hands tucked inside the bib) how to find a hotel.
When he begins, “Well, ya turn ya caa around and head out to the big….” you know the undelivered punch line: “Thinkin’ about it, ya caan’t get they-a from here.”
So, yeah, you know “Bert & I.”
And if you do know “Bert & I” you can’t help but smile when you pass Moody’s Diner on Route 1 in Waldoboro, Maine, the scene of another classic: “Saturday Night at Moody’s Diner,” with the punch line that hangs in the air.
So, “Bert & I” are characters created by Robert Bryan and Marshall Dodge who take their place in a long line of Maine storytellers. Bert & I are fishermen who take their boat the Bluebird, and later the Bluebird II, out from Kennebunkport to challenge life and the world.
While recently wandering around IKEA to get furniture for our kids’ apartments, I wondered what would happen if Bert & I wandered in. Since Bert & I speak in a beguiling mix of English and Downeast, I wondered how they might take on the fascinating language of IKEA names.
With apologies to all.
“How do we get to Sockerkaka?”
“Well, that’s the other side of Olofstromp, down on the Fladdie Rort, but there’s a Ufbud that will take you to Veddinge, if the Korken’s not Duktig.
“Last I heard, it was all Gronsaksbullar because of the Torrliden was being Forbluffad.
“So, I’d try the Sinnerlig, that’s right by the Backaryd with the large Vindeuva, where you take the Tingsryd to the Furhoja, then to the Pladdra, a right past the blue Bittergurka, another right past the Aggplanta and stop at the Fargeta. Course if you miss the Edserum, you’re Uppbo in real Boholmen.
“Backtrack to the Kannetcken, take the steep Nordmarke at the Brimnes, the next Sundvik, a couple of Kossan – be careful, that last one is a real Hedblumsta.
“If you feel lost, don’t Korken your Enigt.
Stop at the Kycklong Kottbullar, it’s a local bar that serves great Smorboll, and ask directions.
“But I could be wrong.”