Down East 2013 ©
As I age, I’m increasingly concerned about something the TV ads refer to as “regularity,” by which they don’t mean how close you are to being a regular, normal person as opposed to a crazed old bat chasing gangbangers out of your yard with a wooden tennis racquet and a jar of prunes with an expired best-used-by date.
That is not what “regularity” means at all. Just as “erectile dysfunction” doesn’t have anything to do with an inability to stand up straight on windy days, “regularity” is a word employed so as to avoid upsetting those of tender sensibilities.
Such as the editors of this Web site.
Who would be appalled if instead of employing a euphemism to discuss disgusting intestinal activities, I were to use a word like “poop.”
Oops, sorry. I meant “p**p.” Or, for those of you concerned about discrimination against vowels, “*oo*.”
Let me hasten to say that I’m delving into scatological matters not simply out of a juvenile desire to shock my elders (although, I certainly consider that a major fringe benefit), but because the issue of “regularity” relates directly to what has to be the most fascinating news story of the past week. According to a headline in the March 16 Portland Press Herald, Portland could soon be converted into a “fiber city .”
Imagine the advantages. No more expensive diet supplements. No need for laxatives. And you could throw that jar of prunes at the gangbangers without fear of later finding yourself feeling “irregular.”
Once Portland is composed entirely of fiber, you could get your daily intake by simply taking a bite out of the leg of the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow statue, the support beams on the Casco Bay Bridge, or the retaining tanks at the East End sewage treatment plant (there’s real recycling for you). Everything would be made of 100 percent fiber.
Unless I misread the newspaper story. Which it appears, on second glance, I did. So, kindly disregard everything I’ve written thus far, and let’s start again.
The type of fiber being discussed for Portland is not the sort found in food products that taste like blown-in insulation. It’s the kind that carries information from the Internet. Google  is searching (well, isn’t that what it’s supposed to do?) for one or more small cities to be rewired as part of its Google Fiber Initiative  (not part of this nutritious breakfast) in which it will run high-speed fiber-optic cables everywhere, allowing citizens to surf the Web one hundred times faster than broadband. Google is doing this to demonstrate the possibilities that a properly wired city could enjoy for economic development, educational advances, and outrageously violent gaming (such as the soon-to-be-released “Gangbangers Vs. Prune-Jar-Wielding Senior Citizens,” which is rated R for regular).
Imagine the advantages. (I know I used that same sentence to start the fourth paragraph back, but I was off-track there in suggesting people would be able to chew up and swallow pieces of the Franklin Arterial or the public library. Now, I’m starting over in a fresh direction, one dedicated to accuracy and propriety.) Let’s see, where was I? Oh, yeah, imagining the advantages.
Suppose you’re shopping in the Old Port and need a restroom in a hurry because of the sudden onset of the revenge of the lunchtime frijoles. If Portland were actually converted into a “fiber city,” you could just walk over to the nearest fire hydrant and shout out, “Check Google Earth for the location of the closest lavatory with reasonably clean seats and ample supplies of toilet paper. It would also be nice if somebody had left behind a recent issue of Down East, so I could read while awaiting the final outcome.”
And the fully fibered fire hydrant would reply, “You don’t have to yell, you know. Now, everybody for two blocks around knows you’ve got the trots.”
Speaking of an urge to move quickly, the Portland Pirates minor-league hockey team  has finally cleansed its system of the desire to shift operations to Albany, N.Y. At least temporarily. The American Hockey League franchise announced on March 17 that it had reached an agreement with the Cumberland County Civic Center to extend its tenure  in Portland for another two years.
The deal will allow the civic center time to work out plans for renovations and improvements that are expected to include more bathrooms, concession stands selling high-fiber foods, and a low-cost dental clinic.
That last item is critical because Maine has a shortage of dentists, both in rural areas (where, coincidentally, there’s also a shortage of teeth) and in hockey arenas (where, coincidentally, there are an excess of toothless people). In an attempt to alleviate these problems, the University of New England in Biddeford  is asking the Legislature to approve a $7 million bond issue  to build a law school.
Wait, that makes no sense. How would having more lawyers solve the shortage of dentists?
It wouldn’t, of course. Nor would it help with wiring Portland with high-speed Internet connections, providing 100 percent of daily recommended levels of fiber in everyone’s diet, or keeping gangbangers from harassing senior citizens armed with prune jars. In fact, I can’t think of a single problem facing the state that would be improved by increasing the size of the lawyer herd. Obviously, I’m confused again.
Which may explain why the University of New England isn’t planning to start a law school. They want that bond for a dental school. It’s Husson University in Bangor  that wants to start a law school, but the Maine Supreme Judicial Court keeps telling them that if they do, its graduates won’t be able to become real lawyers .
Although, they would be able to play lawyers on TV shows. And, oddly enough, they’d also be able to play dentists.
That Husson faculty is nothing if not versatile.
You may be wondering what all this has to do with whatever we were discussing.
I suggest you take that question up with someone better qualified than me to assist you.
Like the nearest fire hydrant.
Al Diamon has a tip for you on “keeping regular” that doesn’t involve eating prunes. Drink lots of cask-conditioned ale, which contains live yeast. You can thank Al by e-mailing email@example.com