Everybody’s Running – And I Do Mean Everybody
The announcement this week that Republican U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe would not seek another term launched an avalanche of metaphors. Or maybe a landslide. Or a storm. A Snowe storm, get it. Those headline writers are so clever.
With Snowe out of the race, it created a power vacuum (see I can do that metaphor thing, too) that sucked in roughly eighteen thousand, four hundred and twelve potential candidates, not only for her office, but also for congressional seats, legislative openings, zoning board of appeals appointments, sports hall of fame nominations, burger-franchise opportunities and metaphor peddlers. Within twenty-four hours of the news breaking (or as the wordsmiths in the media put in, of the political landscape being rearranged), only one office holder in the entire state had yet to express an interest in jumping to some higher position. That was state Rep. Doogin Finduffin of Humpersburgh. When reporters besieged him with questions about his intentions, Finduffin said, “No, I’m not running for anything. This was my first term in the Legislature, and I hated it. Everyone was so venial and partisan. I can’t wait for my time to be up so I can get back to the real world.”
When reports of Finduffin’s comment reached Democratic and Republican headquarters, both parties launched “Draft Finduffin for Something” campaigns. The poets at the papers called that a seismic shift in political attitudes.
Of course, not everyone’s life was disrupted by Snowe’s decision to call it quits (“a bombshell” said the Humpersburgh Weekly Hump). For a lot of folks, it was business as usual. You know, work, sleep, the weekly hump, rolling around in a human hamster ball.
Well, maybe not that last one. The state Fire Marshall’s Office has determined that human hamster ball, where people pay to be allowed to have themselves sealed inside a giant plastic ball designed to move around an enclosed space so they can experience the joys of being a rodent in captivity, is unsafe.
Even though there’s never been a serious human hamster ball accident in Maine (involving either humans or hamsters), the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (motto: Absolutely Nothing Won’t Kill You) has determined that the seemingly harmless amusement represents a grave danger to the public, particularly when used in an atmosphere heavy with metaphors. The commission said kids who climb inside the balls are at risk of suffocation, head injuries and getting those little hamster feed pellets stuck up their noses. That left the state little choice but to shut down human hamster balling (oooo, sounds dirty when you write it that way) at Summit Adventures in the Maine Mall.
Summit owner Jeff Hunnewell said he was upset by the decision, although his business also offers laser tag, rock climbing, tube slides, congressional runs and metaphor wrestling. He said if he couldn’t make a living without hamster ball, he’d probably be forced to run for Congress on a pro-ball ticket. Hey, he wouldn’t be the first.
Now, here’s where things get really weird (or as newspaper headline writers are wont to put it, they go “off the tracks”). Human hamster balls are illegal in Maine. Marijuana for recreational purposes is illegal in Maine. Fireworks are legal in Maine, but are so restricted by state and local rules that’s there’s almost no way to have fun with them.
All that stuff is subject to heavy government regulation and even suppression. But bagpipes are perfectly okay.
In fact, a guy named Chris Pinchbeck (and no, I didn’t make that name up, although it’s nearly as good as Finduffin) is opening a shop in Hope to build and sell bagpipes, which have been classified as weapons of mass destruction by twenty-eight nations and more than four hundred zoning boards of appeals.
That this is being permitted goes a long way to explaining why people willingly seal themselves in human hamster balls. Or run for Congress, which is located in a area of the District of Columbia where bagpipes are constitutionally banned due to the dangerous possibility they would make our elected leaders even deafer to the pleas of their constituents than they already are.
Where’s the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission when you really need them?
I called to ask that and was told all of its agents in Maine were unavailable because they were running for the Senate.
Not everyone in the state was blinded by political ambition (sorry, got metaphorically carried away). The Portland Pirates minor-league hockey team was busy celebrating a new logo with a big “20” on it, commemorating the average number of paying customers at its games.
Oh, sorry, that’s actually a bit high. The “20” really stands for the number of years the team has been in Portland. Team officials said they hoped to be there for many more years, because it’s only a matter of time before their quirky sport catches on with the public. Or is that soccer?
Meanwhile, one of Portland’s other minor-league sports franchises, the Maine Red Claws, continues to sell out every game, in spite of having a record that makes Congress look good. The NBA Development League franchise was hurt earlier this month when several of its key players defected to run for the Senate. The team said it was hoping to fill its roster with fresh faces, including the freshly available Olympia Snowe at point guard.
Speaking of snow, the state got some this week, ending a winter of discontent for skiers and boarders (no, idiot, that’s not a metaphor, it’s a literary allusion). Sugarloaf was able to open its Bracket Basin glades for the first time this season. During the preceding months, the glades had become home to feral politicians living off bark and rocks while awaiting opportunities to run for higher office. The arrival of one kind of snow and the departure of another cleared them out.
Al Diamon used a ghost writer for this week’s posting because he’s busy lobbying for a spot on the Humpersburgh Zoning Board of Appeals, which became available when its current occupant decided to run for an open legislative seat, which will soon be vacant because the incumbent is seeking to become a U.S. representative, because the person holding that post is trying to jump into the U.S. Senate race, where the longtime holder of that office is quitting to devote her spare time to legalizing human hamster ball. Al will return next week and in the meantime can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.