Down East 2013 ©
I’m not at all surprised this happened. I’m more surprised this sort of thing doesn’t go on all the time.
On Sept. 7, Maine State Police were summoned to the southbound lane of Interstate 295 in Brunswick after several motorists reported seeing a naked, middle-aged man walking south in the breakdown lane .
The man was said to be wearing nothing but a “bushy beard.”
(Which ought to be sufficient. I mean it works for Spook  in the “Wizard of Id.”)
But even assuming this particular guy’s beard hadn’t yet reached the growth stage at which clothing below the waist becomes optional, it’s still understandable why he was walking around with the family jewels swaying in the breeze.
That’s because it’s tough today to buy pants.
Long gone is the era when you could walk into the old Levinsky’s on Munjoy Hill in Portland, grab a pair of jeans off the shelf, slap them on the check-out counter and be out the door in five minutes. No styles or colors to worry about. Jeans only came in one style and one color. No trying them on. If the pair you were wearing fit pretty well, so would the new pair. No hassles. Jeans were not fashion statements. They were a practical alternative to walking around bollicky bare ass.
Those carefree days are gone forever.
Now, jeans come in a host of odd shapes : traditional fit, relaxed fit, loose fit, dungaree fit, enormous-butt fit and – for the exercise-challenged – anything-but fit.
They also come in a variety of colors ranging from black and white to canary and sea foam (by which the advertising executives who come up with these concepts presumably mean yellow and soggy), as well as stone-washed, acid-washed, unwashed, faded and filthy.
As a result of all this variety, jeans now cost more than a case of expensive beer. (It could be the naked guy took this into consideration and opted for the brewskis.) That explains why I despair of ever finding another pair of plain old jeans, devoid of trendy name tag and legs tailored to fit inhumanly thin appendages with the knee joints in the wrong place.
I suspect the naked stranger felt much the same way. He was probably headed to Freeport in hopes of finding an outlet store that still had some stock left over from 1966. Good luck with that, pal.
When I’m forced to acquire new jeans (a situation brought on not by the general state of decay afflicting my old jeans, but by my wife’s refusal to include them in a washing-machine load that contains any of her clothing), I proceed in one of two ways.
I call L.L. Bean  and ask the customer-service representative to send me a pair of whatever jeans I ordered the last time. This sometimes prompts the ever-helpful Bean staffer to ask what style I’d prefer.
“Whatever I got last time,” I say.
“Oh,” the representative says, with a hint of regret. “They now come in fourteen comfortable cuts, including our latest, circulation strangler.”
“Well, we have some new color options.”
“I want whatever color I got last time,” I say. “It looked like blue to me, back when it was clean and intact.”
“We now have eleven different blues,” says the representative. “There’s sky blue, bluebird blue, navy blue, azure, sapphire, indigo, sea foam …”
At this point I turn to my alternative method of obtaining new pants. I go to the swap shop at the town transfer station and sort through the offerings looking for anything remotely close to my size.
I know there are people who are squeamish about clothing that comes from what used to be called “the dump.” They’re convinced it’s infested with cooties. (Perhaps the naked man on I-295 had that phobia.) They think it should be left there for poor people. But who is poorer than a man in need of new pants and psychologically unsuited to enter a shopping mall.
I assure you, one good washing, maybe a little altering and this swap-shop stuff is as good as new. Or at least, better than what I was wearing when I found it (which has now been left at the transfer station in case any poor people without pants show up). And wearing dump jeans definitely beats being nabbed for nudity by the state cops and taken away to a hospital for observation. (“Well, doctor, he appears to my highly skilled eyes to be naked, except for that bushy beard.”)
Freshly clad in a pair of Gap jeans that I scored at the transfer station and a t-shirt I’ve had since I studied Wordsworth in college (“Not in entire forgetfulness/And not in utter nakedness/But trailing clouds of glory do we come”), I showed up at Hadlock Field for the final weekend of the Portland Sea Dogs’ 2010 season .
The Red Sox Double-A affiliate was playing the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, a team that is leading professional baseball in terrific names. There is, for instance, Callix Crabbe , who – contrary to popular opinion – is neither a character Shakespeare deleted from the final draft of “The Tempest” nor SpongeBob SquarePants’ roommate. Crabbe is, in fact, a second baseman in the Toronto Blue Jays system.
Or how about relief pitcher Boomer Potts , whose real name seems to be Jared. Although Boomer Jared is still an unusual name.
With those kinds of monikers available to the Cats, it’s a wonder Portland was able to compete with them at all, let alone sweep the series. But you know what they say: Even guys with incredibly strange names have to put on their pants one leg at a time.
Unless they don’t. In which case they may be late for batting practice due to problems making bail.
Speaking of bail, one guy who had no trouble paying his was the driver of a tractor-trailer arrested by state police on Sept. 3 in York during a routine check of log books. When discrepancies showed up in the logs, Jhon Rivera-Ramirez was taken into custody until it could be determined if he was kidding about the placement of that “h” in his first name. In the meantime, the cops checked to see what kind of load he was carrying.
Lots of money.
Like a million bucks or so (at last report, police were still counting it).
Officials have refused to say where Rivera-Ramirez was coming from (there’s speculation he was transporting drug money across an international border, a federal crime), but I think we can guess where he was going with that much cash. Undoubtedly, he was headed for Freeport to buy enough pants to last him the rest of his life.
With that kind of dough available, he could breeze through all the questions.
All of them.
A dozen of each. No, make it two dozen.
Every brand. Just load them in my truck where those buckets of money used to be.
Anything else, sir?
Yeah, is there a place in town where I can buy a CD with that Randy Newman song  about how you should beware of the naked man?
Keep your shirt on. Al Diamon is nearly finished with what he has to say. Now it’s your turn to talk back to him by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org .