Down East 2013 ©
I’m not about to criticize somebody for being insulting. That would make me a hypocrite.
After all, in my other life as a political columnist , I make my living insulting people. Well, not people exactly. More like elected officials, bureaucrats, candidates, activists, and other assorted whackjobs.
They’re similar to people, except they put out more press releases.
So, when I heard about this guy in Falmouth named Michael Doyle , who had referred to a member of the Town Council as “demented, a banshee, idiotic,” my immediate reaction was:
I don't remember ever using that one.
Idiotic? I’ve worn out the keys that type those letters. Demented? Hey, I once covered the Portland City Council. Other Doyle-isms, such as “snide,” “abusive” and “condescending”? Tools of the trade.
But banshee? I’ve got to believe that’s the word that pushed the Falmouth councilors over the edge, causing a couple of them to propose a code of conduct for citizens addressing the Council during meetings, a code that banned personal attacks, abusive language, and most other entertaining forms of expression, such as claims of supernatural powers. After free-speech advocates and others complained that nobody but a banshee would implement such draconian reforms, the councilors dropped the idea .
This did nothing to placate Doyle, who has launched a petition drive  to recall one of the banshees he insulted.
The guy obviously has way too much time on his hands. But let’s get back to what’s important here. Which is:
Is calling someone a banshee really an insult?
According to Wikipedia , being labeled a banshee might not be any cause for high dudgeon, after all. The earliest forms of this Irish legend are described as a “fairy woman keening at the death of important personages.” I suppose that continuous keening could become annoying, but so do campaign commercials. A little wailing and lying are among the prices we pay for living in a free society.
But back to banshees. While they’ve often been depicted as ugly hags, Wikipedia says they’ve also been described as “stunningly beautiful.”
Sort of like Lady Gaga .
Depending on how drunk you are.
As insults go, calling a town councilor a banshee may have implications that are a little too ambiguous for my taste. If I’m going to deeply offend somebody, I’d prefer to do it by employing more crippling material than dredging up childhood memories of the Disney movie “Darby O’Gill and the Little People .”
Which leads me to believe that this Doyle guy is less impressive at denigrating people than he thinks he is. He once wrote to a councilor warning her that if she ran for re-election, he’d “bring my considerable skill set and intellect to bear against you.”
Oooo. I bet he’s going to call her an elf. Or a sprite.
As an experienced insulter, I offer Mr. Doyle a word or two of advice:
Avoid hanging out under bridges, lest you be mistaken for a troll.
On to more important matters:
With all the talk lately in Maine about topless marches in Portland and Farmington , arson at a topless coffee shop  in Vassalboro, and a request to the Bangor City Council (motto: If You Refer To Us As Banshees, We’ll Have Our Werewolf Rend You To Pieces) by a business called Diva’s Gentleman’s Club for an easing of municipal restrictions that prohibit serving alcohol at establishments where there’s nude dancing , it’s easy to forget that most of us still seem to be walking around fully clothed. And while I haven’t seen any research on the subject, I suspect the majority of the state’s residents are wearing something under that outer layer. (Maybe one of those political polling firms could select a random sample of the population and attempt to determine if this is true, possibly by administering wedgies – "Hold still, Mr. Doyle, this won’t hurt much" – thereby producing a definitive figure as to how many of us are dressing commando-style .)
In any case, I’m sure there are still plenty of people in this state who, on occasion, need to buy underwear.
This isn’t a major problem if you live in the more practical parts of Maine. Reny’s  sells a wide selection.
Marden’s  does too.
They’ve even got union suits at L.L. Bean .
But let’s suppose you resided in the state’s most populous burg, Portland. Surely it would be no great effort to locate a store stocked with boxers, briefs and the like.
According to Buy Local Portland , which has an advertising campaign that specifically mentions underwear as one of the products you can buy in Portland, there are only two stores that sell undies. One is Ferdinand , a trendy boutique that offers custom-designed undies. The other is Nomads  in the Old Port, which describes itself as “an adventure and active wear shop for people on the move.”
Nomads’ boxers cost $24 each.
Commando-style is looking better all the time.
To tell the truth, I buy my underwear online. It’s cheap and comfortable. And I don’t have to deal with fashionable sales people inquiring about whether I’m a person on the move and if so, which overpriced undergarment is best designed for my particular moves.
The only problem with making my purchase in this way is that it arrives in a package that my mail lady somehow recognizes immediately.
“Buying underwear again?” she says as she hands it over. “You sure do go through that stuff in a hurry.”
What a banshee.
Al Diamon values his privacy, but will entertain an occasional e-mail sent to firstname.lastname@example.org