Maine for the Holidays: White People and Beer
For any sensible journalist, the one topic that seems to cause warning signals to start flashing is a discussion of the differences among the various races. I’ve never understood this timidity.
Perhaps, that’s because, living in Maine as I do, I’ve had somewhat less experience dealing with different races than writers in other states. But I reject the idea that Maine is so uniformly of one mind about races that there’s no room for diversity.
We have stock-car races, pickup-truck races, sled-dog races, horse races, lobster-boat races, canoe races, marathons, triathlons, 5-Ks, 10-Ks, races for various cures, gubernatorial races, and (in Portland, anyway) the rat race. I’ll put that list up against that of any cosmopolitan area filled with foreign influences, such as camel races, the Indianapolis 500, and the race to win the American Football Conference Eastern Division.
When it comes to racial issues (leg cramps, blown engines), Mainers are as experienced in dealing with them as anybody this side of one of those “Fast & Furious” flicks.
So, it was with some consternation that I discovered that all this talk about race (“When I get on the plane, I’ve got to tell you, if I see people who are in NASCAR garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as racing fans, I get worried. I get nervous”) had nothing to do with finish lines and trophies. It turns out to be related to skin color.
My own skin could best be described as blotchy with moles and some redness in the nose area after drinking. Unfortunately, I’m often mischaracterized by bigots and the U.S. Census as being white, a color I haven’t displayed since October 1986, when the ball rolled through Bill Buckner’s legs.
So, it was with some interest that I discovered a new book by Christian Lander titled “Whiter Shades of Pale: The Stuff White People Like, Coast to Coast, from Seattle’s Sweaters to Maine’s Microbrews.”
This volume (which I have read in its entirety, if by entirety, you mean the cover) obviously contains a stunning revelation. It turns out drinking a nice Geary’s Hampshire Special Ale or a robust Gritty’s Best Bitter is the equivalent of engaging in a racial stereotype every bit as demeaning as somebody from New Hampshire being labeled a heavily armed, anti-government lunatic or a College of the Atlantic student being called a tree-hugging peacenik or a member of the state Legislature being smeared as a Tea Party Republican.
I will never again be able to quaff a pint of Frye’s Leap IPA, Maine Beer Company’s Peeper Ale, or Allagash Curieux without worrying that I’m engaging in behavior that denigrates my heritage and causes others to disregard me as an individual.
From now on, I may have to drink single-malt Scotch.
Except it turns out that’s another stereotypical white-person beverage.
Maybe I’ll try sobriety. Although, in my experience, that’s a stereotype of a race called self-righteous, annoying people. I’m not sharing so much as a water fountain with them.
Speaking of despised social subsets, you may be aware of the movie “Fight Club,” which contains the famous line about how the first rule of Fight Club is you don’t talk about Fight Club.
It turns out that slogan needs some updating. Since the film came out in 1999, social media sites like Facebook have blossomed, and a group of young men in Westbrook decided to use that medium to promote their local beat-the-crap-out-of-each-other events.
Of course, Facebook postings are about as secret as Charlie Sheen’s affairs, so it didn’t take the Westbrook police long to crack the case and shut down the operation.
Now, the new first rule of Fight Club is don’t act like a punch-drunk fool and post what you’re doing all over the Web.
Uh oh. I’ve just stereotyped myself again. It turns out making cultural references is part of the stuff white people like.
At least, it is if the references are to white culture or to things white people understand. Such as (see above): the NFL, NASCAR, the 1986 World Series, “Fast & Furious,” “Fight Club” and Charlie Sheen. There are probably some others I’m too white to even notice.
I’m a disgrace to my race.
I’d cry, but it makes my skin even blotchier.
There are, however, some things white people do not like (besides blotchy skin). Among them is “smart meters.” At least, white people in Scarborough and a few other Caucasian ghettos don’t like them.
Smart meters are high-tech wireless devices that the electric company is attaching to homes and businesses to replace old “stupid meters,” which couldn’t do anything except record how much power was being used watching reruns of “Fight Club.” The new devices will not only figure out your monthly CMP bill, they’ll suggest ways to save on electricity by doing your laundry at 3 a.m., washing dishes and vacuuming on those Saturday nights you can’t get a date, and cooking only when you’re not hungry. They’ll also monitor your movie viewing, and suggest better films, by which I mean those preferred by non-white ethnic groups, such as Rotarians.
Opponents claim the meters are a health threat because they can force you to save money by shutting off your refrigerator, causing all the food to spoil. They can also require you to take cold showers and spend your evenings sitting in the dark. If you defy them, they will evict you from your house and rent the place to illegal immigrants.
CMP says these concerns are just white-people cultural voodoo. According to a spokesperson, the company plans to continue installing the meters “until we have achieved total domination over you suckers.”
Oops sorry, that was a guy from the Westbrook fight club. CMP just wants your money.
Well, I see by the word count, that’s it’s time to call it quits for another week, kick back, and watch some good TV. As far as I know, there’s no mention in that white-people book about shows like “207” or “Maine Watch” or “Good Day Maine.”
I’m sure a lot of folks watch those programs who aren’t white. Although many of them get kind of green around the gills.
Al Diamon, who can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org, wishes you a white holiday season. Wait, that didn’t come out right. How about this: Have a white-meat Thanksgiving and a snow-covered whatever cultural event you celebrate in December. Also, a blotchy New Year.