"We're buying a house in Georgia."

"Oh yeah, where in Georgia? Atlanta? Dahlonega?"

"Gainesville."

Then she stops and repeats his second suggestion -- "Dahlonega?" -- and looks at him in a way that suggests "You know about Dahlonega?"

He tells her why he knows about Dahlonega: old flame.

But let's back up a moment.

Teri Lostal walks into Fiddlehead mid-afternoon and engages counter boy as much as counter boy engages Teri, which is to say they could be married with all of that engagement. They talk California because he's from Long Beach and she's from Vista -- and when he hears Vista he says "We have some great glass vases from Vista" and leads her to the display. She's never heard of the Vista glass blowers but likes their work.

Counter boy tells Teri about the friends who lived in Rancho Bernardo and Poway back in the day, and she smiles and says she knows those towns well. Oceanside, too, and counter boy nods. They're so much bigger these days, she says, as are desertville dots such as Hemet.

"That's where everyone who works in L.A. wants to live -- they don't care about the commute," counter boy says, and she agrees.

Speaking of dots you've never heard of, she lives in a place called Herring Neck, Newfoundland-Labrador, Canada, "population 50." If you're to believe in Wikipedia, a fella by the name of Jimmy Chant settled the turf in the 1760s. Jimmy Chant; Donna Chang. 

Counter boy hears "Herring Neck, population 50" and walks Teri Lostal over to the ProPanels featuring the acrylic paintings of Sylvia Grantins of Virginiatown, McGarry, Ontario, Canada -- population more than 50 but only by about 500 more. Point being, they're remote. "She just sort of wandered up there one day," counter boy says of Grantins, "and decided to stay there and make art. Can you imagine what life 450 miles north of Buffalo must be like?" 

Teri does -- "population 50" and all.

She explains that Newfoundland-Labrador is the official provincial name. Labrador is the land mass and Newfoundland is an island. Takes 7-plus hours by ferry to arrive. Newfoundland is so massive that it takes 2 days to cross. Teri said Newfoundlanders are like Australians and live primarily around the coasts and that the guts of NL, like the guts of Australia, is pure forest.

"The fish must be delicious there," counter boy says and Teri answers "Oh, yes, cod!" She goes on to say that in Newfoundland, if you eat fish for dinner at a friend's house, it's implied to be cod. It's all about the cod there. Cod galore. Teri says that if you eat salmon at a friend's house the friend would make it a point to say when you arrive that salmon is the main dish because you don't say "We're having fish -- then serve salmon." Counter boy asks about Newfoundland lobster and she says "Great."

Teri tells counter boy she wants to go see the rest of downtown Bennington, that she'll be back thanks to Fiddlehead staying open later than other Main Street businesses.

Unlike most other Bebacks, he believed in Newfie Beback.

Counter boy is back at his perch. Hits rewind to hear Donna Jean Godchaux kill this cover of Dorothy Love Coates' "Strange Man" one more time. 100th time in 3 days. Shit, 150 times. Even that might be conservative. It's the best performance Donna Jean ever gave. Cross between Janis Joplin and Ellen Foley. Maybe Donna gave other great performances -- "France" off Shakedown Street in '77 comes to mind -- but none of those performances were better than this dose of #musicalmarrow .

Not too long after Teri Lostal arrives, the blonde cutie pie arrives carrying leftover styrofoam boxes. "Thanks for bringing me lunch," counter boy says. She offers one of her 2 pieces of pizza. "Had it been fried chicken I would have taken you up on the offer," he says, "but I'm not in the mood for pizza." She asks if he'll hold onto the foams while she looks around the gallery. Sure.

Amber Young grew up in Bennington and graduated MAU in 2010. For the last 5 years she's gone back and forth to work in Alaska. Marketing for DirecTV. She's back for good because "I miss my family."

<chatter-chatter-chatter> ... "I always thought this was a museum," she says, and he answers "You're not the only one" and she answers "This place is really cool."

He asks if she knows Ali Secor. Yep. He leads Amber to the jewelry showcase with Secor's blown-glass pendants and she loves them. "We also have have pottery by a Shaftsbury girl" and he leads Amber to the back room to show her those bowls. Likes those, too.

They're back at the counter again and she notices a cool necklace.

Counter boy asks if she'd model it. "But you've gotta take off your sweatshirt," he says. No problem. Then she peels off another layer. All she has on now is a pink tank-top. Pretty girl. Blonde hair. Right amount of flesh to highlight the necklace. Perfect.

He walks her to the marble stoop outside and just as the impromptu photo shoot begins, two of her friends -- guy and girl -- approach the corner. The first photo stinks because she's looking straight into the sun and squinting. "Can she borrow your shades?" counter boy asks the dude, and he obliges. Perfect. "OK, turn your shoulders a little that way. Look straight through the camera. Shoot." Good shot. One more time for good measure.

Counter boy leads Amber back into the gallery, and her friends follow. They always thought it was a museum, too. 

FIDDLEHEAD AT FOUR CORNERS IS NOT A MUSEUM -- IT IS AN ART GALLERY AND HAS BEEN AN ART GALLERY FOR 13 YEARS! SPREAD THE WORD, YO!

Counter boy writes down Amber's name and brief bio. Turns out she came home to a great job as a personal assistant to one of Bennington's influentials. Think Elaine Benes and Mr. Pitt minus the sock tantrum; unless the Bennington influential does make Amber go buy 500 pairs of socks and throws a tantrum because none of them fit just right, although he'd calm down and eat a Snickers with a fork and wait, what?

<chatter-chatter-chatter> and then counter boy gives Amber he leftover foams and she leads her friends out of the museum.

Then a middle-aged Jewish couple walks into the gallery and engaged him right off the bat. Goes on for 15-20-25 minutes.

(I'm 12 hours into the day now and getting tired and expediting the process.)

They talks about Jamaica because counter boy notices Howard wearing a Jamaica ballcap. They chat Jewish stuff -- Howard had a bar mitzvah in '65, counter boy in '84 -- the year their son was born.

He sells medical supplies -- colonoscopy equipment -- and you can bet he's the life of the party when he tells people what field he's in. 

<chatter-chatter-chatter> and Howard's wife, Arleen, looks like Susan Sarandon. "I get that a lot," she says.

Then they bring up a show on TruTV -- Impractical Jokers -- and this about when counter boy wonders if he's being had. He crook-eyes them and wonders if they're bugged or wearing hidden mini-cameras. They laugh.

This <chatter-chatter-chatter> goes on for a long, long time. Howard is a part-time stand-up comic, too. Has videos on YouTube. Writes lyrics. Counter boy says he writes lyrics, too. One is based on a drive-by shooting in Roswell.

<It's 7:28, getting really tired now. Uber-expediting>

Howard and Arleen leave Fiddlehead but not till after telling counter boy he's welcome in Randolph, New Jersey, anytime he passes through. Sweet.

A few minutes before they leave, Teri Lostal comes back. Newfie Beback came back! And she bought a heart trivet.

"Shoot."

Teri and hubby left San Diego 10 years ago in their RV. Took 'em only a year to find Herring Neck, Newfoundland-Labrador, Canada, where they live half the year. They're leaving NL to buy a home in Gainesville, Georgia, 32 minutes from Dahlonega, Georgia.

"It's where Cabbage Patch Dolls were created," counter boy says and Teri acknowledges this with a smile.

"Dahlonega," she says, "has a darling little town center."

Then she talks about the tall brick building that houses the federal gold vault. The first gold rush, she says, took place in 1828 and not in the 1860s in California. The purest gold in America, she says, comes from Dahlonega, Georgia. That's why the mint was there. Read more about Dahlonega's gold here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dahlonega,_Georgia

Dahlonega, Teri says, "might be the most darling town in North Georgia. It might be the most darling in Georgia."

Teri Lostal takes her heart trivet and leaves.

An hour later a woman walks into the gallery and says she is from Columbus. Columbus, Ohio. The Columbus, Ohio, that has everything to do with the girl from Dahlonega, Georgia.

And then a woman who came down from Woodford, where she's camping alone, walks into the gallery.

Looks like she could be the mom of the Dahlonega-Columbus girl. And she talks with a Swiss accent; he tells her about Walther.

And this is too long, and weird.

Goodnight.

PART II

Tuesday afternoon.

All this Newfie cod talk stirred the appetite so counter boy took a 30-minute break to find the man with corn dogs. 

He meandered down Main Street and realized he forgot the car keys and didn't feel like going back to retrieve them in the gallery so he kept walking and decided to get something at the gas station. Bought a sausage muffin that had been sitting around since 7 in the morning. Ate the shit out of it in 3 bites. Still hungry, though. Exercise in the morning makes you hungry all day. He stumbled back down Main Street toward the gallery but wasn't ready to go back to being counter boy quite yet so he cut through the CCV parking lot and meandered some more. Hit North Street and realized he'd go to Lil Britain Fish and Chips.

One piece of fish, nix the chips. No time for chips, anyway. Great that they make 'em to order but not great when it takes 15 minutes to make 'em. No mushy peas, either. Just a hunk of deep-fried halibut. Lil Britain halibut is to Newfoundland cod as (insert example) is to (insert example).

Sat down to wait for the fish and noticed a middle-aged gadabout at the next table, sitting cross-legged, wearing off-white trousers and brown flannel shirt. Sports coat matched trousers. So did the Fedora. Drab-olive socks and red leather shoes. White whiskers well beyond 5 o'clock but nowhere near midnight. Coke-bottle specs. Total intellectual look going on here. Sitting cross-legged and reading the first few pages of a thick hardback. Moby Dick? Nah, not thick enough. Sure as hell wasn't the Old Man and the Sea. Whatever. Total look going on here. Middle-aged hipster? Naw, middle-aged intellectual. Widower? Never married? Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Reader's Club? Married but out to lunch alone for a little pulp privacy? Too good of a moment not to capture so counter boy pretended he was working his S4 when really he was focusing and snapping photos.

Counter boy looks behind and notices father and son, eating fish and chips. I wonder if they saw me taking pictures of the lonely reader. Two TVs to the right show the same British soccer talk show for this is a bona fide British fish and chips joint, opened by Brits 5 years ago. Everything Brit down to shelf candy. Most important, soccer on the telly.

The counter woman brings counter boy his piece of deep-fried halibut in a rectangular carton. This is fish. He gives it a bath in British vinegar, picks up the plastic fork and starts eating the shit out of it. Half-gone in 90 seconds. Fresh -- MOIST! -- and the coating is crunchy and seasoned to perfection, and this is what counter boy needs on a sunny afternoon. So why did he eat that gas station sausage biscuit that was 6 hours old? Probably because he didn't think he'd be eating fresh fish 10 minutes later.

A few bites before the last bite he looks up at the TVs and reads the bottom ticker that denotes what these futbol blokes were chatting about: Does Benzema need more confidence? I don't know, mate, but this possible lack of confidence must be hampering his game.

Google says "Brazilian Ronaldo Luis Nazario, former player of Real Madrid, came out in defense of French Karim Benzema who was booed by the public in the last match of Real Madrid in the Spanish Soccer League. ... Ronaldo said (Benzema) is not playing badly, but the public in Madrid is very critical."

Read the rest of the story: http://www.plenglish.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1887191&Itemid=1

Counter boy scarfs down the last few bites at the same time the counter woman brings lonely reader his burger. "What's the name of your book?" counter boy asks. The man closes it and shows him the cover. Counter boy stands up and asks if he could take a picture of the cover. The man puts the book on the table and spins it so counter boy can read "The Seduction of Unreason" by Richard Wolin. He snaps a picture. Lonely reader gives his cow a ketchup bath.

Here's the short description of the book, as seen at Amazon.com: "Fifteen years ago, revelations about the political misdeeds of Martin Heidegger and Paul de Man sent shock waves throughout European and North American intellectual circles. Ever since, postmodernism has been haunted by the specter of a compromised past. In this intellectual genealogy of the postmodern spirit, Richard Wolin shows that postmodernism's infatuation with fascism has been widespread and not incidental. He calls into question postmodernism's claim to have inherited the mantle of the left--and suggests that postmodern thought has long been smitten with the opposite end of the political spectrum."

You want to talk about words we hate? How about "postmodern" ... can anything be more pseudo-bolshy-facacta than "postmodern"? Enough with the fucking postmodern already. So we've become modernized, but now we're a level beyond and call it postmodern? So what level do we reach after postmodern? And the level after that? Postmodern. Because now we're postmodernized!

Counter boy thanks counter girl for the great fish, thanks lonely reader for the photograph(s), nods his head to father and son fish and chippers and walks out of Lil Britain, satisfied. This is how Newfoundlanders must feel after a great piece of cod.

He walks back toward the corner.

Time to go back to being counter boy at Fiddlehead.

Still wondering about the latest Georgia occurrence?

It arrives 5 minutes later when a big ol' bubba in a John Deere cap walks into the gallery and approaches the counter. Fifty squid must have died for the ink on his arms and neck and forehead.

He begins the chat: "What do you have to do to sell art in here?"

Counter boy tells him how to start the process then asks his name.

"Tommy."

"Where ya from?"

"Georgia."

The tricycle-riding circus monkey in counter boy's brain backflips after hearing "Georgia" because that's 3 Georgia experiences in 24 hours ... seriously, WTF is up with the Georgia Theme?

Two hours earlier counter boy told bossman about how yesterday's Georgia carried over to this morning's Georgia (here: http://on.fb.me/18U3VFj) then asked "So what when is the third Georgia Thing going to happen?"

The answer is 2 hours later when Tommy, who lived in Jonesboro, Georgia, for 29 years before moving to Bennington in 2002 walked into Fiddlehead.

Counter boy asks to take a picture of his arms and neck while getting the diamond stud above his right cheekbone -- and the John Deere hat. He moves bubba into position. "Shoot." Perfect.

Counter boy notices tats on his fingers. Left hand spells out S O U L but ink on the right fingers is faded. "It said LOST SOUL," Tommy says and counter boy replies "So now you're just a SOUL?" and Tommy half-chuckles. "I guess so."

"So that diamond stud above your cheek -- does that mean you killed someone?"

He laughs and says no -- just a cheek stud.

"How does a Deep South Bubba end up in Yankeeville?"

"I met a girl, fell in love."

"Wait, you fell in love with a girl and brought her to Bennington?"

"No," he said. "My mom used to own a bookstore on one of the four corners and I used to come to visit her -- and one time I met a girl and fell in love."

"What was the name of the bookstore?"

"Eidson's Books."

"How does a Deep South Mother end up in Yankeeville?"

"Gay marriage."

"Cool. So, you still with the girl?"

"Hell No!"

Counter boy wanted to tell Tommy Bubba about his Bennington love story gone wrong but now was not the time.

"So why are you still in Bennington?"

"We have a daughter. I have her tattoo of her right here <pulling his shirt down to show Alexzandra forever etched on his heart>. I'm not in Georgia because my daughter is here."

"Are you ever going back to Georgia?"

"I don't know. I'm stuck in this demon hole."

PART III

Wednesday afternoon. Sunny and beautiful and more of the green leaves on that tree just outside the Main Street windows are turning yellow.

The woman shuffling along the counter with her nose close to the jewelry showcases looks like she's from Iowa so counter boy asks how she's doing -- "Great." -- and where she's from.

"Georgia."

Oh, boy.

"Oh yeah, whereabouts?"

"Atlanta. We're on our way home from New Hampshire. We just bought a house" in a town near Exeter.

As we have it, Pam and hubby Phil are leaving Georgia after 30 years and coming to Yankeeville to live out their days, and Tommy can't leave this demon hole and get back to Georgia fast enough.

PART IV

Wednesday afternoon. Still sunny. Garcia's singing "Lay down Sally" and 2 or 3 more leaves on the tree just outside the Main Street windows may have turned yellow.

They don't look like they're from Georgia, he thought.

"Where are you guys coming from?"

"Tennessee."

"Cool. I was just talking to some folks about Tennessee this morning about whether they'll win this weekend."

She smiled -- 50 with braces and cute -- but seemed confused.

"Volunteers."

"Oh right. Who are they playin'?"

"Some team they should beat by 38."

<chatter-chatter-chatter about being from L.A. and being a USC fan and following the SEC and Tennessee sucking for several years since winning the national title with Tee Martin and bucket listing at Ole Miss before any other SEC school ... chatter-chatter-chatter>

"I went to U-T for 2 years ...

... but I graduated from Georgia."

<now it's getting comical>

Glenn and Gerry Macbeth.

"You must get the Macbeth business every time, huh?"

All this Georgiana and now Macbeth ...

... what, does counter boy have to kill bossman to usurp the throne at Fiddlehead? Is that what this all means? He doesn't remember any witches whispering in his ears.

Although, a customer this morning asked him if he's Irish or Scottish -- Welsh, too -- because if he is she'll crack his zodiac code. Definite witch vibe about her.

And then more Georgia ... Macbeth ... based on the cuckoo King of Scotland ...

... and maybe bossman should beware!

Or something.

Glenn and Gerry graduated UGA in '78.

The Macbeths came to Vermont this weekend to spend time with Daughter Macbeth, who got engaged here last year. She's getting married here, too, September 27, 2014, so the Family Macbeth stayed in the town where the wedding is being held: Ludlow, home of Okemo Mountain.

Okemo Mountain, where Daughter Macbeth will tie the knot. But not just Okemo -- the peak of Okemo. The wedding party must ride the lift to see the I-Do's.

They'll get to the mountaintop before counter boy reaches the top of Fiddlehead. Unless a few more prophetic ladies show up. And you just know they'll be from Witch Mountain.

Can Part V be about a 26-year-old heiress from Alpharetta who's hotter than Georgia asphalt? Is that too much to ask?

PART V

Thursday morning. 11:40. Sunshine galore. More of those leaves turnin' yella.

If you were to ask counter boy he'd say "I'm not looking for Georgia now -- Georgia just keeps finding me."

Georgia happened again, 3 minutes ago.

He and she walk into Fiddlehead. He keeps walking, she stops at the first showcase of glass cats and penguins and birds and fish and heart-topped snails and glass heart paperweights and handmade wood pens.

"We're just sightseein'," she says.

Counter boy hears a bit of twang and wonders if he should ask. Keeps wondering then thinks, Just ask, stupid.

"Are you from Georgia?"

She whips her head up and locks eyes with his. "Why'd you ask that?"

"Because there has been a ton of Georgia references in here the last few days and I heard a twang."

"Florida," she says ...

... then she continues "But truth be told, I'm from Georgia -- born in Atlanta."

Moved to Florida in '59 "and I've hated every day of it."

"Maybe it's time to move up here to Vermont or New Hampshire."

She would but can't. Right now anyway. He hubby died in 2004. She walked into Fiddlehead with her high school sweetheart, Marshall.

"My dad's name is Marshall," counter boy says.

"Marshall!" <she urges him to come over to join the chat> "His father's name is Marshall."

"My mother's maiden name is Marshall," Marshall says. "She's from North Adams."

"So your mom's maiden name is Marshall and she named you Marshall then y'all moved to Florida?"

"It actually started in North Adams," Marshall says. "My dad is from Albany and he decided to move the family to Florida to open a fishing camp in '47."

Donna begins again vis-a-vis Florida and counter boy's suggestion. She raised 3 kids and there was really no time to leave Florida.

"I always tells kids these days that before you settle down and start working and sign that mortgage to find that paradise first."

PART 6

Thursday afternoon. 12:57.

Donna came back with Brad Pitt.

"We tried the Crazy Russian Girls. It was very good. I brought these for you," she tells counter boy and hands him a white paper bag. On the front she wrote "Have a Blessed Day, Georgia Girl" and drew a heart.

That is the sweetest thing.

He opens it up and there is Brad Pitt.

The full name is Better Than Brad Pitt.

And there are 3 of them in the bag.

When counter boy suggested the Crazy Russian Girls he told Donna to mention Brad Pitt. The way he describes Better Than Brad Pitt when he sends customers to CRG is: "It's part-cookie, part-brownie, part-cake -- a chocolate explosion. Goes great with coffee or a tall glass of cold milk."

Anyway, he had no idea Donna would go above and beyond.

Is there anything sweeter than a Georgia Girl?

If there is, it tastes like Brad Pitt.

Next you'll tell me Brad and Angelina will come to Fiddlehead this weekend and tell counter boy some kind of newfangled Georgia tale ... .

PART 7

Saturday morning. 10:33. Counter boy stayed in a cheap motel last night and saw Brad Pitt there ... in a movie ... on the teevee. Moneyball. Pitt was verily strong, as always. Funny thing is there were moments in which Aldo Raine's accent emerged. If you squinted just right, Aldo the Apache's demeanor made itself seen. Must've shot Moneyball right after Basterds.

So there's the Brad Pitt reference.

Brad's probably not coming into the gallery this weekend.

But the black and white woman with a red pouf of hair did.

"Are you the official counter boy?"

<Oh, shit, he thought, here we go>

"Maybe, maybe not."

Her big ol' warm happy smile cuts right through the clutter.

"Yeah, I'm counter boy."

"Don't worry, I won't tell you I'm from Georgia."

<Thank God>

"But my dad was."

<And here we go>

"No way. You're making that up."

"He was! A small town called Naylor, Georgia, near Valdosta."

"Give me a piece of information that only you'd know about Naylor, Georgia."

"They just installed their first stoplight and there's sulphur in the water so you have to brush your teeth with bottled water. And it smells disgusting when you take a shower."

"I don't know. You could have read Google for 30 seconds."

Roberta Jana-Scott Lillie smiles.

"Got a picture of your dad on your phone?

She does and pulls out her archaic flip-phone and starts to scroll through the photos. She finds one and laughs while saying he looks like he could have been in the movie "Shaft" then hands the phone over to the suspicious fella on the other side of the counter. He tries taking photos of the faded picture on the old phone while capturing the subject's daughter in the background. But it's futile so counter boy goes to Plan B: take a picture of her holding the phone then snap a close-up of the picture on the screen. Meta.

Behind the orange hue is a man who, indeed, could have pulled off a role in Shaft. But that doesn't mean he's from Jaw-Juh -- or is her dad. She tells counter boy she reads everything he posts on Fiddlehead's Facebook page -- and if that's the case she's read the first 6 parts of Georgia Galore and could have perfected a little ditty to become part of this travesty of literature.

But deep down he believes her.

To most, she's Jana Lillie. Jana Lillie runs the Bennington Center for the Arts on Route 9. She used to work for Old Castle Theater when it was located at the same complex, before moving to Main Street. That's when she moved across the hall to the BCA.

Jana Lillie tells counter boy that she's a Daughter of the American Revolution. She says others hear the story, look at her caramel flesh and pouf of red hair and she can see their eyes saying, What'chu talkin' bout, Jana!

She is tied to Deep South Georgia and Yankee Vermont this way:

Robert Durden was a married black man in Georgia who had a sweet gig as a live-in assistant for a rich white man who owned property in Manchester Vermont. Robert handled daily duties for his boss and in return his boss took care of his handler. He traveled with his boss's family, lugged the luggage ... and it was a pretty good way to avoid taking sulphur-water showers.

During one trip to Manchester, Robert Durden spent some time in Bennington and met a white woman by the name of Frances Lillie.

They had relations ...

... and those relations created Roberta Jana-Scott Lillie.

"I'm a Bennington girl," she says with a smile.

"When'd you graduate MAU?"

"I didn't. I lived in Maryland for high school. Columbia, Maryland. In one of those planned communities by Rouse."

James Rouse was the name, and this better explains his game: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbia,_Maryland

Robert Durden was married to his Georgia wife for 27 years yet clenched onto a deep, abiding love for the Yankee girl, Frances Lillie, whose family goes back to the first days of Old Bennington in the late 1700s. Frances Lillie is head of research and development at the popular CB Sports, which moved out of Bennington and relocated to Maryland -- hence Jana's Rouseian Lifestyle.

Robert Durden loved his wife in Georgia but wanted the woman in Vermont. He got sick in November '94 and died 6 months later.

What did he die of?

"Of a broken heart," Jana says. "But he held on till my birthday. He made it till 12:35 a.m. on May 13, 1995."

Sorry, Brad, but that bittersweet story is better than you too.

PART 8

Sunday morning. 10:15. Drenched in sunshine. 

For the first half of last week counter boy stood by his pick of LSU over Georgia ... and then this Georgian Experience took hold and he changed his pick Thursday. Georgia was going to win. Georgia had to win.

Georgia rallied in the dying seconds and beat LSU 44-41.

And that's a Bingo!

I mean just Bingo.

And yes, this has been strange, man. Even by Dahlonega's standards.

PART 9

Bingo has to wait a few minutes because there's a Part 9 -- of course there is because counter boy has this weird thing with the number nine, and not just because he was born on September 9 (in the foul year of our Lord).

But I digress.

Late Sunday afternoon, whirlwind of a weekend winding down. Saturday sales were strong but not so much today, which is why counter boy was bemoaning his existence in an empty gallery circa 6:11.

And then the two fellas walk into the gallery and change the dynamic of the day. Let's cut to the chase:

Olivier Cheng buys a whimsical kitchen apron with pin-up cowgirls. Seven of these aprons arrived 2 months ago but this is the first to sell. Others feature oily variety bohunks in all forms such as carpenters, mountaineers, firemen, all shirtless with big, powerful 6-packs and smiles that'll make yer knees quiver.

Counter boy sees Olivier Cheng's name on the CC receipt and, because of the Jimmy Chant/Donna Chang references above, asks "You don't by chance have ties to Georgia, do you?"

Because all things considered, Chant-Chang-Cheng would have been very funny. But Olivier Chang is from New York City.

Parents a fan of the actor.

No. They're French.

Who's the apron for.

"A girlfriend of mine. She never cooks so I figure this might inspire her."

Olivier's friend lets it be known upon walking through the front door that he loves pottery so he gave Fiddlehead a long look.

Keith is 5-foot-6 at best and has that disheveled arty look going. Black gaberdine pants and black sports coat with untied black basketball hightops. Rasta-hippie locks down to his shoulders. Shadow that's well beyond 5 o'clock. Looks like the singer of the Spin Doctors. He doesn't walk, it's more of a sashay and he sashays around the gallery. Stumbles across a large sea-themed bowl in the form of abalone made by Allison Evans of Maine. He loves it. Carries it to the counter, where counter boy tells him about the Baton Rouge restaurant -- Mansurs on the Boulevard -- that ordered a couple of Allison's oyster platters. Shows him pictures of the platters. "Those are beautiful!"

He puts the abalone bowl on the counter and walks back to the cruets that captured his attention. Counter boy tells him about other cruets from Minnesota and ... he chooses one of them.

Fast-forward. Counter boy is ringing up the sale and the more Keith talks the more the twang becomes apparent. This is serious southern twang. "Somewhere in Texas?" "Not even close." "Mississippi?" "You're closer." "OK, I give up." "Alabama."

"One of things on my bucket list is to watch a football game at Alabama," counter boy says and Keith looks at him with a crook-eye. "Nothing means less to me than that -- my dad made me watch Alabama football with him when I was a kid. I hated it."

He loves hamming it up for counter boy and turns the porcelain abalone bowl into a hat. Not exactly a porkpie hat ... but "Shoot."

And that's the real Bingo.

PART 10

Didn't think there would be a Part 10 last night, even as counter boy watched the New England Patriots against -- you ready for it -- the Atlanta Falcons!

In ... Atlanta!

Why is this important? Befuckingcause counter boy is a gambler -- a degenerate, really -- and last night's game cost him $489.23. That's right, four hundred eighty-nine dollars and twenty-three cents.

Well, in reality it cost just $2 -- the amount of his wager.

He needed the Atlanta Falcons to win outright and for the overall score to go over 49 points. This was a no-brainer.

Let's take a step back first. The $2 wager covered a 9-team parlay, which means you pick the outcome of 9 occurrences such as a team winning by so many points or the underdog covering the spread -- or the teams combining to score more than the "over" or stay "under". There are tons of prop bets and other gambling terminologies but counter boy will keep it simple.

He took a 9-teamer and put down 2 bucks. The payout was $489.23 if he hit all 9 bets. But he had to hit all 9.

It's difficult to hit a 9-teamer. Shit, it's difficult to hit a 4-teamer.

Hitting a 9-teamer is almost like winning Powerball -- like getting the first 5 numbers but not the Powerball. Or getting 3 numbers and the Powerball. Definite money to be made.

But a 9-teamer is void if just one of the 9 bets falls through, and with football, no matter how good of a bettor you think you are, and counter boy thinks he is a good better, strange and bizarre things happen in football games that you just cannot explain -- Hi, Matt Schaub!

And those strange and bizarre things kill 9-team parlays.

Counter boy's ticket looked this way:

* Titans (minus 3.5) against the Jets -- Titans smashed Rex's boys. This was the no-brainer of the 4 o'clock games.

1 for 1.

* Broncos (minus 11) against the Eagles and the over (58.5), which is a very big over for the NFL; rarely that high. But Peyton Manning has been going nuts like few quarterbacks ever have gone nuts to begin a season, and the Broncos are scoring like the 2007 Patriots, and the Eagles are going to put up 17 to 24 points, so even 58.5 might have been too low. It was. Manning has made the Kafkaesque transformation from 35-year-old whose career is in doubt after neck surgery into record-setting 37-year-old quarterback with a record 16 TD passes through 4 games. He toys with the Eagles and the Broncos crush Chip's boys 52-20. It's a thing of beauty the way Manning solves a defense like someone who solves a Rubik's Cube in 2 minutes.

3 for 3.

* Chargers (plus 2) at home against the Cowboys and the over (47.5) -- Phillip Rivers at home ... Cowboys lost one of their stud defensive ends ... just had the air of a 52-point game -- Rivers went nuts (35-42, 400+ yards) and the Chargers rallied past the Pokes 30-21.

5 for 5.

* Redskins (minus 3.5) at Oakland and the under (41) -- and this was the tricky one for so many reasons but we'll keep it simple. First, the Skins were 0-3 and playing on the other side of the country so a winless team favored by more than a field goal in this situation is a tad silly, even against Oakland, which just lost its starting QB and is headed toward another 4-12 season. The 41 over-under was even more tenuous of a pick. Counter boy is an "over" guy 98 percent of the time because of the amount of late points that always seem to push the total over. Things didn't look so hot when the Raiders led 14-0 in the first quarter. So much for this parlay, he thought, because the Redskins basically had to hold the Raiders scoreless the rest of the way AND score only just enough points -- in the 20 to 24 range -- to keep it under 41. Didn't seem like that scenario would happen after back-up QB Matt Flynn led the Raiders' 2-touchdown charge. And then for whatever reason the Raiders stopped scoring, and the Redskins started scoring, but not too much, posted a TD in the middle of the 4th to make it 24-14 -- securing minus-3.5 -- and though the Raiders drove deep into Skins territory late, that's how it ended.

Sometimes you just get lucky.

7 for 7.

I'm going to win this thing, he thought, visions of four hundred eighty-nine dollars and twenty-three cents dancing in his eyeballs.

All that's left is Atlanta straight-up -- AT HOME! PRIMETIME! #NFLONNBC ! -- and for the score to go over 49. Well you KNOW Officer Tom Brady is going to lead the Patriots to AT LEAST 21 points. Even with a young Patriot offense trying to find its way Brady is going to generate 17 points. The Falcons? The Falcon offense is loaded, as veteran as you get -- AS GOOD AS THERE IS IN THE NFL -- so this should have been a 35-point output. 42 even. Taking Atlanta and the over was the right combination. But the signs emerged early. Falcons got the ball first and ran no-huddle for 10 plays. All passes -- all of them completions. Chunks of yardage at a time till it was 1st and goal at the 6. Punch it in, Matty Ice! Nope. Patriots hold the Falcons to a field goal, and that's when counter boy became concerned. Doubly so on the next drive when No. 72 drew yellow laundry on consecutive plays, holding then a facemask, and this is how it's going to be, huh? All of a sudden the Falcons are like the Jaguars, huh? The cosmos even tried to help the Falcons when Patriots Hall of Fame nose tackle Vince Wilfork tore an Achilles in the first quarter. Falcons drove deep into the red zone in the second quarter only for the offensive coordinator to call a completely asinine play on 4th and 2 in which QB Matt Ryan rolled to his left and threw to his left -- which is to say ACROSS HIS BODY -- with defenders sniffing his jock. Awful call. Awful throw. Patriots hold. Again. And this is how it's going to be, huh? Patriots go up 10-3 on a Brady TD pass, so the Patriots are doing their part. For all of that, the Falcons score a TD late in the half and it's 10-10. OK, counter boy thought, nice little momentum boost -- Falcons will dominate the second half. Instead, the third quarter was dull and the Patriots led 13-10, which means the teams needed to score at least 4 TDs in the final 15 minutes -- and Atlanta had to do most of that scoring. Counter boy was exhausted. Long weekend in the gallery. Turned the teevee off and hoped for the best and crashed. Woke up at 7 this morning, picked up the S4, ESPN ...

... and the teams combined for 53 points. Over!

Atlanta's total was 23.

8 for 9. Looser!

This was almost as bad as Toledo shaving points in that home game against winless Buffalo a few years ago, ruining counter boy's $50 6-teamer and costing him $2,000. Almost. 

Really could have used that 489 dollars and 23 cents.

It was only as he washed his one testicle in the gym shower after a vigorous workout that counter boy laughed at the utter absurdity of this 9-teamer gone wrong. The team that screwed him?

Atlanta.

As in Georgia.

And degenerate was his name-oh!

(BTW, the Dodgers are counter boy's favorite baseball team. Guess who the Dodgers play in the National League Divisional Series that opens Thursday? The Braves. Guess where? Atlanta! Georgia!)
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