Down East 2013 ©
A few days ago, an inmate at the Cumberland County Jail in Portland allegedly proved himself to be a criminal mastermind. (Please note that I used the word “allegedly” in the preceding sentence, which is supposed to convey to the reader that, yeah, this guy probably did what I say he did, but he hasn’t actually been convicted of anything yet, so I put in that “allegedly” to convey just enough skepticism to prevent him from suing us. Seems sort of ridiculous, but for purposes of keeping Down East’s libel lawyer from breaking out in hives, I ask your indulgence and request that you apply that single “allegedly” to every sentence hereafter, except the ones that I obviously made up.)
Late one night, Arien L’Italien, 23, managed to escape from his cell  in the maximum-security section of the facility by picking the guaranteed child-proof lock. Then – in spite of cameras, guards, warning devices and lots of signs that said “Escape Strictly Prohibited” – he made his way into the women’s maximum-security area, flagrantly ignoring other signs that said “Men Not Allowed.” L’Italien then met up with inmate Karla Wilson, whom he had previously instructed in how to thwart the locking mechanism on her cell door, and the two of them enjoyed a sexual encounter despite signs that clearly stated “No Sexual Encounters – And Certainly No Enjoying Them.”
L’Italien and Wilson would have gotten away with all this, except for one small flaw in their plan. After their hot time in the sack, they were both thirsty and hungry, so they used a stolen cell phone (this may be one of those sentences referred to above that I obviously made up) to order out for beer, pizza and cigarettes. The guards never would have suspected a thing if the one who delivered their food and beverages to Wilson’s cell hadn’t happened to notice that the credit card they were using to pay for that stuff had his name on it.
That raised some serious suspicions, and by the time L’Italien got around to sneaking back to his own cell, paying no attention to signs that said “No Sneaking,” the entire contingent of jail personnel had come to the conclusion that something was not right. For one thing, none of them could find their cell phones.
The alarm was sounded. L’Italien was apprehended in the act of using the sheriff’s private bathroom and promptly shipped off to a maximum security prison.
Meanwhile, an investigation was launched  that showed certain deficiencies in jail security, such as the commissary selling cakes with files in them and an underground escape tunnel with electricity, signs to warn of traffic congestion and rest areas with a selection of franchise fast-food restaurants.
Officials promised all this would all be corrected in short order, along with some older problems, such as the helicopter landing pad in the exercise yard and the jail workshop class that taught inmates how to make ropes out of bed sheets. Unfortunately, these changes came too late to deal with some issues, such as the discovery that twenty-five percent of the inmate population was actually discarded department store manikins.
“Clearly,” said one top county law enforcement official, “we needed to do more than put up signs saying, ‘No Using Manikins To Make Us Think You’re Still Here.’”
Shortly after issuing that statement, the official announced that two manikins had escaped from the jail, but one had been recaptured the following day after being spotted working as a license renewal clerk at the Maine Division of Motor Vehicles.
“He gave himself away,” said the official, “because he was too pleasant and helpful.”
But enough of crime and salacious behavior. Let’s move on to something more refined, such as salacious names of town roads.
I touched on this subject last summer, when some residents of Greenwood tried to do away with an obscure byway called Alcohol Mary Road . At that time, I pointed out that this would be a pretty dull state if all the roads had ordinary names, such as Arien L’Italien Escape Route. I extolled the virtues of Go Way in Wayne, Wrong Drive in Phippsburg, Jackass Annie Road in Minot, Harm’s Way in Belgrade, Breakdown Lane in Rome, Whiskey Way in Augusta and Rock and Hard Place, which I’m told is somewhere around Andover. Those are names with character, and, as someone who lives on Hernia Hill, I can state definitively that character counts. If Arien L’Italien had grown up on one of those streets, he never would have ended up in the Cumberland County Jail. Because none of those roads is in Cumberland County.
But some people never learn, so it came as no surprise to me to discover that some folks in Embden (motto: You Don’t Often Come Across A Town With Those Three Consonants Together In The Middle Of Its Name) were attempting to clean up an allegedly (see, libel lawyer, no defamation here) prurient moniker that graced one of its street signs.
I refer to Katie Crotch Road . According to a news report, the origin of this eye-catching name is lost in history, although it may have had something to do with a family named Katie that lived at the convergence of two roads. Boring. I prefer the probably apocryphal (it’s sort of like allegedly) version featuring a woman named Katie who liked to sit on her porch in a short skirt with no underwear.
None of which has anything to do with the announcement that Gifford’s Ice Cream has a new flavor in honor of L.L. Bean’s one-hundredth anniversary called Muddy Bean Boots .
I’m told the original recipe called for real mud, bits of leather and rubber chips. Allegedly. (It’s a legally valid use of that word, even if you put it after the sentence, according to a guy I met in a bar who looked sort of like a drunken lawyer.) That recipe got a thumbs down in focus groups, so those ingredients were replaced with the far more conventional combination of caramel ripple and chocolate brownie pieces in vanilla ice cream. Which is what happens when you cater to tourists.
Still, this flavor’s connection to Bean raises an interesting question:
If I buy a cone and don’t like it, can I bring it back the next day and get my money back?
Al Diamon has escaped for another week. But you can track him down without bloodhounds and shotguns, merely by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .