Attack of the Chihuahua, Elongate Hemlock Scale, and Old People
Maine has come through a week of almost unspeakable horror. I say “almost” because I’m capable of speaking about it (well, technically, I’m capable of writing). I’m putting myself through this excruciating exercise in wordsmithing (which I don’t think is actually a word) in order to preserve these events for posterity. I’m doing it to help bring these tragic occurrences into perspective. But mostly, I’m delving into the gory details because my editor expects a thousand words from me, or there’s going to be even more violence.
Before I get to the unpleasant matters that have clouded the preceding seven days like the noxious emissions from an incinerator in downtown Biddeford, let me first get a few other unseemly items off the table.
Members of the Portland School Committee were stunned to learn that 150 more children than expected will be attending school this year, thereby thoroughly screwing up class sizes, budget projections, and the number of copies of Dick and Jane Visit The Nice Incinerator in Downtown Biddeford needed to teach reading skills (“Cough,” said Dick, “cough, cough, cough, gag”).
School officials say they’re not sure where all the extra kiddies came from, although they suspect some of them are recent immigrants from places like Burma and Biddeford. It’s also possible many Portland couples are failing to obey the law that requires them to notify the local education department whenever they have sex for purposes of procreation.
Condom distribution is being stepped up.
But even before that happens, there’s more disturbing news about unexpected mating. Manx shearwaters have been breeding off the coast of Maine.
Manx shearwaters are birds of the albatross family. They mostly live on rocky outcroppings off the British Isles, but the taxes there are murder, and they have socialized medicine. That may explain why, for the first time, a Manx shearwater chick has been discovered attending school in Portland (“I say, this Dick chap appears to be quite ill as a result of his little field trip to the incinerator, wot”).
Well, that report is unconfirmed. But experts are certain there’s a chick on Matinicus Rock, which is not to be mistaken for the place where Eva Murray lives, which is Matinicus Island. Nevertheless, you should read Eva’s blog because it’s thoughtful, kind, truthful, and generally all the things this blog is not.
Also, you should be overjoyed about the Manx shearwaters having sex in Maine. I’m not sure why.
The headline in the Sept. 16 Morning Sentinel was frightening, at least for people with deep-seated phobias concerning plucked poultry. It read, “Waterville Council debates nudity, chickens.”
What’s to debate? Chickens should wear clothes like everybody else. Otherwise, they’ll overpopulate Waterville’s schools just like what happened in Portland.
Meanwhile, off the coast of Seal Island (which is also in Eva Murray’s neighborhood, making it one of the top news-producing areas of the week), no one was thinking about sex.
OK, that can’t possibly be true.
But right after they got through thinking about sex, the fishermen in the area were thinking about an edict from the U.S. Coast Guard banning all activity near the island.
The Coasties took this drastic step because they’d suddenly become aware of a terrible threat to public safety.
No, seriously, they’d received reports of old military munitions on the sea floor, left over from when Seal Island was used for bombing practice during World War II. They were afraid those shells would be dislodged by Manx shearwater chicks who didn’t know any better than to play with explosives. Also, that the shells might get caught in nets, something that doesn’t seem to have happened in the last sixty-five years or so.
After vigorous protests from everyone from lobstermen to Congresspersons to the Portland School Committee, the Coast Guard conceded it might have over-reacted.
The ban was lifted, fishing resumed, and those in the vicinity of Seal Island were once more free to think about sex.
Meanwhile, disaster loomed over Dexter (which is not remotely close to where Eva Murray lives). On Sept. 12, a postal worker delivering mail was confronted by the most fearful entity any human being could encounter.
The trash incinerator from downtown Biddeford.
Sorry, got my story lines mixed up like a fishing net wrapped around unexploded ordnance from World War II.
What the postal worker was confronted by was a Chihuahua. Really. I know I used those little dogs for a cheap laugh earlier in this posting, but this time it’s true. Honest. You’ve got to believe me. Otherwise, I’ll forever after be known as the little blogger who cried “Chihuahua.”
According to the pooch’s owner, the tiny creature barked at the postal worker, prompting the mail person to pull out a can of pepper spray and blast away.
The owner’s seven-year-old daughter ran to save the dog and was allegedly sprayed as well. (There’s no truth to the claim the Portland schools are planning to employ this method to avoid overcrowding.) Dog and daughter are said to be recovering.
The Postal Service is investigating the incident, but the details are being collected by mail, so it could be several years before we find out what really happened. In the meantime, the Dexter Town Council is considering a ban on nude Chihuahuas and, for good measure, on delivering the mail in the nude.
As if that weren’t terrifying enough, researchers have confirmed that Maine has for the first time been infested with elongate hemlock scale, described as “an exotic pest” that kills hemlock trees. (I’ve been described the same way — except for the part about killing hemlocks.) The trees were already being threatened by another invasive creature called the wooly adelgid, leading scientists to investigate the connection between hemlocks and tree diseases with ridiculous names. I mean, you never hear of a hemlock with a common cold.
In any case, the plan to combat the scale now calls for assembling a strike force of postal workers with pepper sprayers. Hey, it worked on that other little thing with the funny name.
Finally, there’s an updated report from Bangor’s police chief that violent crime in the city is on the increase.
This can’t be blamed on elongate hemlock scales. This isn’t some unforeseen side effect of the Biddeford trash incinerator. No way the Manx shearwaters can be held responsible. That’s because the rising tide of thuggish behavior in the Queen City is clearly the result of one thing:
They look harmless. But so do Chihuahuas. That’s how they sneak up on you. Next thing you know, you’ve been bitten by a pair of false teeth. The attacks by old people are even worse. Some of them have canes.
And just how did Bangor come to be called home by roving bands of senior citizens bent on mayhem? According to Money magazine, the city is one of the twenty-five best places in America to retire.
On the bright side, they’re not overcrowding the schools.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed (don’t use the Postal Service, they keep pepper-spraying my dogs) at email@example.com.