The Many Uses of Fox Urine and Moose Tongue
Until this past week, I was unaware that among the varied kinds of merchandise you can purchase in stores that sell gardening supplies and sporting goods is fox urine.
It’s even available online.
Fox urine comes in both liquid and granular form, the former packaged in convenient spray bottles, perfect for dispensing fox urine on anything you might wish to dispense fox urine on. I suppose it’s no surprise that the same companies also sell bobcat urine, coyote urine and even mountain lion urine, so apparently there’s considerable demand in some obscure sector of society for pee from predators.
Which must mean there’s a sizable population of people employed collecting the stuff. I hope they have strict safety regulations, because I wouldn’t want my fox urine to come from somebody who wasn’t certified as being handy with a catheter. I also hope they have a comprehensive health plan, one that includes coverage for reattaching fingers and other body parts.
I mention both working conditions and fox urine because, oddly enough, these two items play a major role in an unusual incident that occurred on the evening of January 17 on Portland’s Munjoy Hill.
A group of demonstrators were standing around outside the Front Room on Congress Street, protesting against the use of fox urine in many of that establishment’s signature cocktails.
Sorry, that’s incorrect. The Front Room does not use fox pee in its cocktail. That distinctive flavor in the martinis is achieved through the use of mountain lion urine.
The protest was actually focused on working conditions at the eatery, with a group called the Restaurant Opportunities Center claiming owner Harding Lee Smith (no, not the same Lee Smith who once pitched for the Red Sox) wasn’t paying proper wages, wasn’t allowing required breaks and was forcing his workers to collect bobcat urine without proper safety equipment. The center has filed a lawsuit against Smith on behalf of several current and former employees. Smith has denied those claims and counterattacked, charging the group with having a hidden agenda involving unionizing restaurant workers and taking control of the world pee cartel.
All of which is important background information you needed to know in order to understand why I’m so concerned about fox urine (other than my unhealthy obsession with bodily functions).
As you recall, it’s Sunday evening, and the protesters are protesting. Suddenly, according to police and news reports, out of an apartment above the Front Room comes a guy named Jome Murphy, armed with a bottle of fox urine. For reasons best known to himself, Murphy allegedly sprays the stuff on several demonstrators and, for good measure, a cop.
None of them are happy about that, even though, if you’re objective about it, this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Fox urine is supposed to repel mice, rats and other vermin, and who wouldn’t be pleased to acquire a reputation as being thoroughly rodent repellent?
Still, the stuff has an odor not normally associated with enhanced interpersonal interactions. So, Murphy was arrested. You might think the charge would have been public urination, but that wasn’t the case. Spraying fox urine, according to the Maine Revised Statutes, has been classified by the Legislature – yielding, no doubt, to the powerful rodent lobby – as a form of assault.
The matter now awaits further legal action, as well as possible attempts to convince lawmakers to impose restrictions on the purchase of fox urine and to require licenses for the carrying of concealed containers of the substance. The mere possibility such legislation might be considered has drawn the wrath of the National Fox-Urine Association (motto: You Can Take My Fox Urine When You Pry It Out Of My Cold, Dead, Slightly Damp and Smelly Hands).
While that matter is being resolved, let’s turn our attention to moose. Where we’ll discover, strangely enough, there’s also a lively market for moose urine, which is used mostly to repel people running around armed with bottles of fox urine. Fortunately, our interest in moose has nothing to do with that product. Or even that end of the moose.
According to a columnist in the Original Irregular – a weekly newspaper published in Kingfield that my alter-ego, Media Mutt, finds to be an unending source of non sequiturs and malapropisms – a man in Madrid (not the capital of Spain, but the town in Franklin County with the distinctly non-Spanish pronunciation of MAHD-rid) has discovered an interesting new method of cleaning road salt off his vehicles.
He sprays them with fox urine.
Well, not actually. Although, I can’t see why that wouldn’t work. And you’d derive the added benefit of never having to worry about mice building a nest under the back seat.
No, this guy’s salt-removal program calls for parking his pickup in his yard and waiting for some moose to show up. The moose then lick the salt off the truck.
This has the potential to be big. I can see tourists from all over flocking to Madrid to get their Lexuses and Audis moose-licked clean. Not only would they pay exorbitant sums for this service, but they’d probably buy lots of other stuff (get your genuine Madrid fox urine here – also, copies of the Original Irregular).
We need to implement this plan in a hurry. People in Alaska are already trying to patent moose-powered car washes, although they’re not going to entice many customers by referring to the residue left behind as “Moose slobber.”
And now some sad news of a distinctly more urban nature. Robert B. Parker, the author of the Spenser detective series and many other books, died on January 18 of a heart attack.
He was seventy-seven.
Parker was a 1954 graduate of Colby College in Waterville, and his characters Spenser, Susan and Hawk often ventured into Maine in his novels. He was a relentless worker – he died at his writing desk in his home in Cambridge, Mass. – churning out five pages a day.
The books were designed to be read in one sitting, the minimal plots driven by snappy dialog, sharp characterizations and a strong sense of place. Parker’s stripped-down style was denigrated by critics who didn’t seem to understand the concept of reading for sheer pleasure. The many unsuccessful attempts at imitating him just proved what a master craftsman he was.
A new book in Parker’s Jesse Stone series is due next month, his final western in the spring and two more Spensers sometime after that.
It’s not enough, but it’ll have to do.
Got something in my eye. Probably moose slobber.
It could be worse. It might have been fox urine.
Al Diamon can be consoled with e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you could buy him a drink at the Front Room.