Accept No Substitutes – Get Genuine Maine Worm Poop
I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about the digestive system of earthworms. In fact, since high school – when I had to dissect a worm and locate all its major organs, of which there didn’t seem to be very many – the subject has never crossed my mind. I seem to recall that worms take dirt in one end (only another worm can tell which end is the right one) and pass the same dirt out the other, a process that has metaphorical and philosophical implications that could fill volumes. But from a practical standpoint, most of us can get by in life without ever giving the slightest consideration to worm crap.
Or as it’s more politely known: worm castings.
That’s the term Richard Reed (wait, isn’t he one of the Fantastic Four, the stretchy guy?) of Readfield (wait, do you think Richard Reed moved to Readfield because of the similarity of names?) uses in marketing the byproduct of his worm herd. Reed told the Kennebec Journal the stuff makes an excellent fertilizer for everything from crops to lawns to houseplants. Or you can just throw it at people you don’t like. His six thousand worms produce eight hundred to a thousand pounds of poop every two weeks, which makes me wonder why the world isn’t buried in worm castings up to its nostrils.
Reed sells the excrement to gardeners, farmers, and greenhouses, and he sells worms that get too big to fishermen as bait. I suppose that’s easy to do because you don’t get too emotionally attached to a worm, particularly if all you really care about is what comes out of its back end.
I’m convinced Reed’s poop (well, technically, I suppose it’s the worms’ poop) is superior to that marketed by other major worm-castings-producing states because Maine worms come from a rich excremental heritage. We probably own the copyright on the familiar rhetorical question about bears’ bathroom habits, as well as the urgent metaphorical (hey, that classy word has showed up twice in this posting, so far, so maybe that’s a sign that I’ve elevated my level of discourse) command to produce some castings or get off the pot.
And then there’s always the State House.
But as successful as I think Maine could be in becoming a dominant player in the worm-poop cartel, I don’t think it would be wise for the state to put all its doots in one basket. Or, given the finicky nature of many basket owners, in any basket. Instead, we should be using aquariums, which have the advantage of being waterproof, so they could be used for other things when we don’t need them for putting all our doots in.
For instance, we could use them to raise tropical salt-water fish. The colorful little boogers are much in demand by pet shops and hobbyists, as well as by anyone looking for something that adds a spark of unexpected color to a tray of cracker-with-cream-cheese hors d’oeuvres. And as unlikely as it seems, there’s a place in Franklin called Sea and Reef Aquaculture that raises exotic varieties of clownfish. Sea and Reef has an all-white clownfish called a Maine Blizzard, which sell for $500 a pair, which is way better than worm castings, which go for more like a buck ninety-nine a pound. The company also offers a brown and black version called a Maine Mocha and a bunch of other variations, such as a blue-spotted one called the Maine Blueberry and one with claws called a Maine Lobster. Sea and Reef sells about a thousand fish a month from their high-tech facility and will soon be adding new species, such as the LePage clownfish (tries to get other fish to kiss its butt), the Democratic Party campaign-advisor clownfish (swims into the glass repeatedly) and the Maine Turnpike Authority clownfish (eats only the most expensive food, lives only in the priciest tanks and charges people who look at it a hefty toll for the privilege).
But let’s move along to another unlikely economic development. According to the U.S. Census, Maine currently has a much larger population of clownfish than it does Hispanics. In fact, Maine probably has more clowns than Hispanics (I haven’t been able to find the census figure for the exact number of clowns in the state, but think about it, there must be hundreds of them in Augusta alone). But that hasn’t discouraged a couple of Portland-based entrepreneurs, who’ve started a call center called Listen Up Español for Spanish-speaking customers of companies that sell worm castings, clownfish and products marketed through infomercials that make worm castings and clownfish seem like rational purchases.
Of course, the call center isn’t actually in Maine, because if it was it would be like the ones for English speakers that are in India, where all the responses are preprogrammed so they make no sense (“Thank you, I am happy I have resolved your problem, which I do not understand”). The facility is actually in Mexico, so most of the employees can communicate effectively with callers (“I think if it lasts more than four hours you’re supposed to call your doctor”).
Unfortunately, not all Maine companies are quirky success stories involving scatological matters, tropical-fish sex or selling baldness cures to illegal immigrants. Some are more conventional operations, such as second-run movie theaters.
It’s a tough time to be in that business, what with the competition from pay-per-view, Netflix, DVD rentals and watching the Legislature. And it’s made even tougher when first-run theaters keep the same movie for months, thereby exhausting the market. To deal with that problem, Republican state Sen. Nichi Farnham of Bangor has introduced a bill that makes it a felony to show any film featuring Justin Bieber.
Oops, sorry, that’s already against the law. What Farnham’s measure would do is limit the time a first-run theater could show a movie to fourteen weeks.
Farnham’s fellow conservatives, staunch supporters of free enterprise, have labeled her proposal as, well, it’s sort of like worm castings.
Al Diamon will attempt to worm his way out of any complaints emailed to email@example.com.