Down East 2013 ©
I’m a big fan of human skulls. In fact, I carry one with me wherever I go.
If that seems a bit morbid to you, I apologize. But I’m attached to this particular skull. Literally.
It was part of the option package my parents bought before I was born. Without it, I’m afraid my head would get all floppy, like a politician’s.
I also have a sizable collection of skull-related paraphernalia, including a ceramic skull-shaped cookie jar, a couple of steer skulls, one from a squirrel, part of a deer skull, and a plastic skeleton that would be about the right size for an eight-year-old — if I happened to know an eight-year-old who needed a skeleton. I’ve got some Mexican Day-of-the-Dead wooden carvings, a Warren Zevon-like skull with a cigarette in its mouth, and a grinning skull bank where I throw my pennies.
Those are just my everyday skull-related items. For Halloween, I dig out the really creepy stuff.
Such as the mason jar full of Malibu Barbie heads. Interesting story behind it, but it’s not particularly relevant to today’s topic. Whatever that might turn out to be.
I tell you all this so you’ll understand that I have nothing against having a few skulls around the crypt to lighten up the décor. But as with any such harmless hobby, there’s always somebody who goes a little too far.
According to the Bangor Daily News , there was something of a fad after World War II for returning veterans to bring home remembrances of their wartime experience. Such as the bony parts of Japanese soldiers they’d killed.
Once the stateside spouses got a glance at these “trophy skulls” (“Either that thing goes or I do”), the skeletal souvenirs often ended up in storage, where they were forgotten. Now, as old vets die off, their survivors are sorting out their belongings and discovering disquieting aspects of granddad’s wartime service. To make amends, they sometimes attempt to return the remains to Japan for proper burial.
That appears to be what somebody in Belfast was doing when they anonymously sent a box of bones to the Japanese consulate in New York City last month. Now, police would like to talk to that person, not because any laws were broken (good to know there are still a few weird things you can do that aren’t illegal), but because they need more information to establish where the pieces came from.
So if it was you, ‘fess up. In spite of my boney interior decoration, I’m told I’m no longer a suspect. That’s because I explained to the nice officer that I draw the line at squirrel skulls.
I mention all this stuff about skulls not to be morbid or disrespectful (although those are certainly side benefits), but because it directly relates to an important issue. According to another Bangor Daily  story , Maine is the most toothless state in New England.
As everyone who’s ever taken anatomy knows, the tooth bone is connected to the jaw bone, and the jaw bone is connected to the face bone, and the face bone is connected to the skull bone. So the number of skulls in a state is definitely relevant to the number of teeth.
The World Health Organization estimates that 24.3 percent of adults in Maine are toothless. That’s not as bad as West Virginia, where 42.9 percent gum their food, but it’s worse than New Hampshire, where only 21.1 percent have cashed in all their molars with the tooth fairy.
This raises serious questions. Such as where our teeth went.
I think we can discount the theory that Japanese soldiers stole all that dental work, and took it home as “trophy teeth.” Although, I suppose it might be worth checking their attics just in case that’s where Great Uncle Ralph’s incisors have been residing for the last sixty-odd years.
More likely, the state’s tooth deficit is the result of poor dental care, caused, in turn, by a lack of dentists. And why doesn’t Maine have enough dentists? The answer is simple.
Not enough dentists’ skulls.
As I said, the answer is simple. But that was never meant to imply it would be helpful in addressing the issue.
I also suspect that Maine doesn’t have many dentists — according to an expert there’s just one for every 2,300 residents, compared to a national average of one for every 1,600 people, which explains why you have to sit in the waiting room for hours reading magazine articles left over from World War II (“How to display you trophy skull”) – because dentists are attracted to teeth, and, as we’ve already seen, we don’t have all that many.
The solution is to import teeth from someplace where they have extras. I assume that will involve making some kind of trade deal with the tooth fairy. In return for piles of used teeth — which we’ll use as bait in traps we’ll set in upscale New York suburbs and Florida resorts where dentists are known to be plentiful — we could give the fairies something we have a surplus of.
Such as bedbugs .
OK, not bedbugs.
How about lobster? Tooth fairies love lobster, and we don’t need all we’ve got, because we’re no longer in competition to build the world’s largest lobster roll.
As you may recall, there was an effort made last summer in Portland to get the state into the Guinness Book of World Records for something other than having the fewest teeth in New England or the biggest collection of Japanese bones outside of Japan. A bunch of civic-minded people constructed what they believed was the world’s largest lobster roll, over sixty-one feet in length, and sold pieces off for charity.
Of course, nobody could eat it because we’re all toothless.
Even worse, according to the West End News , Guinness has now decided not to recognize the record, because it doesn’t have space to record every weird thing people do involving specific kinds of food.
Also, they were too busy listening to Bob Marley set the record for longest stand-up comedy routine .
Finally, an update on that marijuana that was stolen from the Farmington Police Department last month. The alleged perpetrators have been caught.
As you may recall — but probably not — the cops had confiscated about a thousand pot plants from a local grower and decided to store them overnight in a garage they use for traffic equipment, until the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency could take them away and burn them.
Before that could happen, somebody pried open the garage door and carried off the dope. Law enforcement officials made a valiant effort to locate the loot, but were stymied by a lack of leads.
Then, a tipster ratted out the thieves .
The pot that hadn’t yet been smoked was recovered, and two people arrested.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering how — since if you’ve seen one pot plant, you’ve seen them all — the cops knew the marijuana was the same stuff swiped from their garage.
The thieves neglected to remove the evidence tags from the plants.
My guess would be that they were out of their skulls.
For Christmas, I’m hoping to get some fuzzy slippers that look like skulls. If you know who sells them, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org , and I’ll pass the info on to my wife.