Down East 2013 ©
I don’t pretend to be an expert in matters concerning pregnancy. I understand how it happens, having studied all the relevant aspects, both in high school biology and extra-curricularly.
But being male, I’ve never really gotten involved with the parts of the process that involve stem cells splitting and transforming themselves into nose cells and toes cells and butt cells and all the other types of cells needed to make a zygote capable of growing into a creature that can play “Call of Duty” in excess of two hundred hours a week, while simultaneously maintaining a texting relationship with four hundred and eleven similar individuals.
Nevertheless, I’m aware of some of the basic parameters of this transformation. For instance, I know that the average pregnancy lasts about nine months, after which most women take a break from reproduction-related activities to care for their newborns and recover from the rigors of childbirth.
Even in the days before reliable birth control, there was a discernable measure of time between the arrival of a kid and the issuance of a construction permit for a sibling. It might only be a matter of months before Mom and Dad were again taking steps to assure the perpetuation of their DNA, but, however brief, there was some sort of pause in the action.
Which brings us to the curious case of a woman from Winslow who is alleged to have stayed pregnant for forty straight months .
Even I, lacking any first-hand knowledge of being with child, suspect that’s excessive.
What I didn’t realize is, it’s also illegal.
According to an indictment handed down by a grand jury in Kennebec County, Leah Wright’s lengthy period of gestation crossed the line between reality-show fodder and real felonies when she employed her never-ending state of being in a family way to illegally obtain $4,000 worth of food stamps. Wright apparently forged documents that indicated she was preggers, sometimes submitting new paperwork to that effect only one day after she claimed she had given birth.
You might be able to fool Maine’s welfare system once in that fashion. Or maybe twice. Possibly three or four times. But by the fifth instant inflating, vigilant officials are going to become suspicious (“Could somebody check the regulations to see how long people receiving food stamps are allowed to remain pregnant?”). Once that happened, it was only a matter of time before legal action was taken.
As a matter of fact, about nine months.
Probably a coincidence.
In other news of the week just past, wildlife biologists have confirmed the existence of a rare black deer in Maine .
In fact, black deer are even rarer now, because the only one anybody has ever seen is dead. It was shot by a fourteen-year-old hunter in Starks.
The unusual doe is an example of a “melanistic” deer, which means the animal has extra pigment in its fur. The biologists say the same phenomenon has also been observed in hair salons and among men experiencing some kind of mid-life crisis.
Municipal pride showed itself in unusual ways in recent days. In Skowhegan, the town introduced a “branding “ plan .
Residents wishing to show their civic support will be asked to line up, drop their pants, and have an official town brand seared into their rear ends. It’ll say, “Skowhegan: A Place To Watch.”
Apparently, they have excellent satellite TV reception there. Too bad nobody feels like sitting down.
In Portland, the city is backing a new art project, in an effort to make everyone forget about that hideous sculpture it installed in Boothby Square .
The exhibit is called “LINES Portland” and is on display at City Hall. It features fine-art prints of the squiggles of tar that road crews made  while fixing streets.
Wait. Let me check to see if I’m making that up.
No, I’m not. It’s true.
Unlike the Skowhegan branding thing.
According to the director of this project, the prints are intended to make people think about the essential work city employees perform.
Such as removing graffiti.
And installing a hideous sculpture in Boothby Square.
No, wait, you’re not supposed to think about that last one.
Portland is also the scene of two important food-related stories, neither of which involve somebody who claims to have been pregnant for forty consecutive months in a demented effort to score some illegal food stamps, the shooting of an oddly colored deer for dinner, or the searing of human buttocks in a misguided attempt to convince people to eat lunch in Skowhegan.
The first item concerns calories, which are those little gizmos in food that make you fat. Not you specifically, dear (I didn’t realize my wife was reading this). You look just fine. Like the day we got married. Really. Please don’t start looking through that tofu cookbook again.
However, on people who are not my wife, calories tend to settle in the anatomical regions known as the gut, the posterior, and the thighs the size of whale calves. There, they cause all sorts of health problems.
To alleviate this unpleasant situation, Portland officials have been urging local restaurants to post the number of calories in all their menu items. But the restaurant industry has been reluctant to do so, mostly because no one likes to be reminded of that sort of thing when they’re having a nice dinner of 1,226 calories in a fancy eating establishment.
But this past week, Anthony’s Italian Kitchen became the first Portland restaurant to voluntarily comply .
As it turns out, Anthony’s lasagna has 1,226 calories all by itself. Chicken Anthony has 2,371, which means one order would feed a pregnant woman for forty months. To counteract those items, the restaurant is also offering a new low-calorie menu, which includes mushroom Bolognese (322 calories) and water (zero calories).
In other food news, the owner of the building that houses the new Trader Joe’s store in Portland is refusing to allow his tenant to put a gate in the fence  that separates the trendy food emporium from the recently opened Bayside Trail.
The landlord won’t give a reason for denying the throngs of walkers on the trail access to Joe’s, but I think the answer is obvious.
He knows that if the foodies can slip easily into the place, they’ll buy products containing thousands more calories than they need. But if they have to work to get in – by walking around the block to the front entrance or pole-vaulting over the fence, they’ll take their health into consideration, and just buy sprouts.
He’s performing a public service, like asphalt squiggles on the highway.
Also, the fence keeps out women who’ve been pregnant for forty months and are trying to buy Two Buck Chuck with food stamps.
Recipes that don’t include tofu and comments may be e-mailed to email@example.com .