Introducing The Maine Freak Show
I’m not one of those people who’s always going around criticizing Maine Gov. Paul LePage for saying things like it isn’t “proven science” that the Earth is round and revolves around the sun, or that we could lower health-care costs by skipping all the fancy tests and returning to the practice of having barbers bleed people with leeches, or that our prisons wouldn’t be so overcrowded if we went back to burning heretics at the stake.
These are mere slips of the tongue and have no impact on actual public policy – the upcoming trial of House Democratic floor leader Emily Cain for witchcraft notwithstanding.
LePage is a colorful guy, and his occasional over-the-top comments are often intended to make important points. So while it may not be technically true that 43 percent of welfare recipients in this state turn into werewolves every full moon, it’s worth noting that many of them could use a shave.
That unkempt condition is obviously a side effect of either lycanthropy or poor grooming habits, but those causes don’t come close to explaining all the unusual tufts of hair that have lately been sprouting on Mainers’ chins.
I’m referring, of course, to the state’s fresh crop of bearded ladies.
According to LePage, these hirsute females are a minor environmental consequence of the chemical bisphenol-A, which is found in many plastic products. Or it could be because they’ve been engaging in sorcery with Emily Cain.
The governor told the Bangor Daily News that efforts to ban BPA were misguided, because, unlike witchcraft, there was no hard evidence it caused any health issues that couldn’t be dealt with by employing leeches.
“The only thing that I’ve heard is if you take a plastic bottle and put it in the microwave and you heat it up, it gives off a chemical similar to estrogen,” LePage said. “So the worst case is some women may have little beards.”
Setting aside the fact that it’s probably testosterone, not estrogen, that encourages the growth of facial hair, this still seems like an acceptable inconvenience compared to the massive disruption we’d experience if we had to replace every sippy cup in Maine. So let’s keep this matter in perspective, and try to look at the bright side.
Such as the positive effect BPA could have on the hair-removal business. Thousands of women would be flocking to the nearest electrolysis salon or purchasing tweezers or asking doctors for hormone treatments. This would provide a major boost to many small businesses.
Also, Emily Cain’s witchcraft act would be a lot more convincing (“a sales tax on eye of newt, an excise tax on bat wing, an inheritance levy on snake tongue”) if she sported a neatly trimmed goatee.
But there’s an even better economic reason to encourage this frolic in facial follicles. If BPA causes an increase in the number of bearded ladies, it might also produce other unusual effects: moose with eight legs, lobsters with antlers, potatoes with real eyes, American schoolchildren capable of excelling at math.
These oddities could be gathered together in traveling shows, much like old-time carnivals with their politically incorrect freak shows. (“Step right up, ladies and gents, and see the Amazing Heterosexual Male Who Really Enjoys Watching Oprah!”)
This could be a solid growth industry for Maine, providing entertainment for the masses, as well as steady employment for those unusual folks who might otherwise find it difficult to hold productive jobs. Like legislators. And TV reporters. And members of the Maine Unemployment Insurance Commission.
The MUIC is the august body that decides who gets jobless benefits in cases where there’s some dispute. To qualify for membership, a person must pass a rigorous test in twisted logic and must find nothing odd about any of the stuff Paul LePage says (masturbation will make you blind, toads cause warts, you can determine a person’s personality by examining the lumps on his or her head).
Recently, the MUIC heard the case of a former Augusta firefighter, who had been fired for stealing money from his union. You might think this would be a pretty straightforward matter, what with his conviction for theft, after which he served a 14-day jail sentence. But you would be wronger than the governor when he said the moon was made of green cheese and premarital sex causes pimples.
After carefully examining the firefighter’s head, the commissioners decided that since he didn’t work for the union he robbed, his transgression wasn’t “directly related” to his job with the fire department.
No, really. I’ve made a lot of this stuff up, but not that.
The city of Augusta is appealing the ruling to Superior Court under the ancient legal principle that the MUIC has got to be either kidding or their brains were weirdly rewired by space aliens. In the meantime, the commissioners will be traveling with the freak show, where they’ll attempt to repeal the law of gravity.
Also on the same bill will be regulators from the state Department of Marine Resources (motto: Keep Your Filthy, Stinking Feet Out Of Our Nice Clean Ocean). Inspectors from DMR recently concluded that piling lobster traps on docks represented a serious environmental threat.
It caused all women within a nautical mile to sprout beards.
Oops, sorry, that’s BPA. The reason the marine-resources experts didn’t want traps on docks is because the pile would cast a shadow on the water. That lack of sunlight could cause harm to aquatic life forms such as seaweed, shrimp and mermaids, all of which like to get a nice tan.
Apparently, the DMR people were confused by LePage’s earlier claim that the sun revolved around the Earth, erroneously concluding that that would mean the shadow would be stationary. But it turns out it doesn’t much matter which revolves around which, because the shadow would move in either case. A bill is now pending in the Legislature that would prevent any state agency from ever again doing anything so stupid.
It’s expected to pass when pigs fly.
Which Gov. LePage says happens all the time.
Al Diamon is not opposed to beards on anyone who wants one, since he believes shaving is best limited to points in college-basketball scandals. If you think he’s cutting it a little too close, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.