Where to Go When You Gotta Go In Maine
Many years ago, my friend Elizabeth Peavey and I convinced a reluctant editor at Casco Bay Weekly to let us do a story on Portland’s best and worst bar bathrooms. We even talked him into giving us an expense account.
“A lot of these places won’t let you use the rest rooms unless you buy something,” Peavey explained.
“How much do you think you’ll need?” the editor asked, nearly concealing his inherent skepticism.
“Let’s see,” I said, “if we have one beer apiece in every bar, we should be able to do it for $5,000.”
After some spirited negotiations, we settled on twenty bucks each, which we spent the first night in the first bar. Nevertheless, we persevered over the next two weeks, visiting hundreds of latrines that ranged from the elegant – the elaborate tile walls and floor of the ladies’ room at the old Rustic on Forest Avenue – to the disgusting – the men’s room at the now-defunct Peanut House on Congress Street was six inches deep in water pouring from one urinal (the other was unconnected to any plumbing), had the stall door (which had been ripped from its hinges) floating in the flood, and the only roll of toilet paper was marinating in the greasy overflow from the sink.
We didn’t bother to buy a beer there.
I mention this not merely to preserve the memory of Portland’s lurid underbelly of the early 1990s, but to expose how the Charmin toilet paper brand has stolen our idea. Well, half our idea. The company is looking for America’s best bathroom, whether in a bar or not.
So, I guess that’s more like a quarter of our idea.
Contestants in all fifty states are competing to prove they “Enjoy the Go” more than anyone else.
Apparently, that’s some sort of euphemism.
Maine’s entrant is Jennifer Haskell of Sangerville, who’s been handing out free rolls of TP outside the IGA in Guilford in an effort to convince people to vote for her.
If Eliot Cutler had thought of that, he’d be governor-elect today.
Haskell earned the right to represent Maine by sending in a photo of her outhouse, which is quite impressive, particularly when compared to the facilities at the Peanut House. If she’s selected as one of four finalists, she’ll go (not that kind of “go”) to New York City, where she’ll compete in a toilet paper trivia contest (Question: Who invented toilet paper? Answer: the Chinese, but an American came up with the idea of putting it in perforated rolls), a mummy contest, and stacking and tossing competitions. The winner gets $50,000, which is about what it would cost to cover the bar tabs if Peavey and I attempted to repeat our bathroom story today.
As wonderful as it would be if Maine could claim the title of hosting the finest facility in the country (should it happen, Gov.-elect Paul LePage, who won that office by handing out free rolls of TP, has already promised to change the state’s motto to “Enjoy the Go”), it’s hardly the most significant piece of news from the week just past. I mean, when all’s said and done, we’re going to have to “go” no matter how the contest comes out.
No, when it comes to news of importance to the wider world, we must turn our eyes to Bethel and its annual Winterfest, scene in the past of such monumental constructions as the world’s tallest snowman, the world’s least-sexy snow-woman, and the world’s coldest Porta Potties.
This year, Bethel is again seeking a world record. According to a spokesman, “We cannot let Portland claim title to the honor of hosting the most disgusting bar bathroom. We will band together as a community and create an even more disgusting loo, one where no one will ever enjoy either the go or the stay.”
Actually, nobody in any official capacity said that, unless you count me. What Bethel is really planning is the world’s tallest tower of ice.
It’s going to be 140 to 149 feet tall and fifty feet in diameter. And what will it be made of? According to an actual quote in the Lewiston Sun Journal from project engineer Jim Sysko of Newry, “What we’re going to do is use water to make ice.”
There’s an innovation to rival the invention of toilet paper.
Well, before it was perforated, anyway.
The Headee is described as a three-dimensional life-size head with the face of anyone you choose. According to Two Loons' Web site, it serves as a “soft stuffed visual reminder of a friend or family member.” At only $24.99 each (including free shipping), a Headee makes the ideal Christmas gift for that hard-to-buy-for person or that person you don’t much like. According to a story in the Morning Sentinel, it can be “hugged and cuddled, kept on a shelf or desk, used in games and political campaigns or taken on trips.”
So, it’s sort of like a roll of Charmin.
Which brings us back to matters concerning the lower end of the digestive tract.
The state of Maine this week announced it had received $425,000 as its share of the settlement of a multi-state lawsuit against the Dannon Co., makers of Activa and other yogurts.
It seems that Dannon had been claiming that Activa helps with “irregularity,” which is a polite way of saying you didn’t enjoy the go. But the Federal Trade Commission had had its staff ingest a lot of the stuff without significant end results and concluded there wasn’t enough hard (or soft) evidence to back up those claims.
Maine will use the money to purchase and distribute free toilet paper to those poor souls deceived by Dannon’s promises, as well as a state-sponsored effort to improve the quality of bar bathrooms near ski areas.
According to a spokeswoman for the project, it will be dubbed, “Enjoy the Snow and Go.”
Al Diamon has to go now. I mean, leave now. (This euphemism stuff can get really embarrassing.) In any case, you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell him where to go.