Getting Stuffed Is a Way of Life In Maine
I have a deep and inexplicable affection for anything that’s been taxidermed.
Birds showing off their gorgeous plumage.
Deer displaying their impressive racks.
Bears flashing their fierce dental work.
Expired legislators posed as if they were sleeping through a lengthy debate.
In fact, I wouldn’t mind if after I croak, my wife took my corpse to a neighborhood taxidermist – of which there are approximately 91,316 within easy driving distance, taxidermy being the second-largest industry in Franklin County after marijuana cultivation – and had me stuffed seated in an easy chair with a beer in one hand and the TV remote in the other.
With just an occasional dusting, it’d be like I was still around.
Well, except for the lack of loud swearing during televised sporting events. But a digital recording of some of my favorite expressions set to be activated by announcers using phrases such as “… goes on the disabled list,” “it’s a grounder to Buckner at first” and “tonight’s starting pitcher is John Lackey” could remedy that.
Yes, nothing complements the décor like some quality taxidermy.
Which is why I was pleased to learn that what is perhaps the state of Maine’s most impressive example of that art is being touched up so it will be in prime condition for years to come.
Congressman Mike Michaud will receive all new stuffing and an upgraded set of glass eyes. According to the skilled craftsmen involved in Michaud’s restoration, he should then be capable of making appearances at thousands of bean suppers throughout the Second District without any sign of wear and tear. And thanks to a digital recorder, interviews with the longtime U.S. representative will be greatly improved (“I agree with many of those points, but not all of them. And only sometimes. Although, not necessarily. Now, let’s discuss NAFTA. It sucks”).
Oh, and that’s not the only taxidermy upgrade in progress. The huge piece showing two bull moose locked in mortal combat called “The Final Charge” is also getting a little restoration. The beasts were discovered frozen in a swamp in New Sweden in 2006. Their antlers had become more entangled than Michaud’s syntax, causing them to die of exhaustion or, if the congressman was giving a speech nearby, boredom. They were stuffed in 2009 and have been exhibited around the state, but were beginning to show some fraying around the edges. Original taxidermist Mark Dufresne of Gray is repairing that damage and will soon have his creations back in public again.
Whereupon, the moose are planning to run for Congress.
Possible campaign slogan: Two Sawdust-Filled Heads Are Better Than One.
If the moose get elected, I hope they’ll do something about the onerous federal laws governing what sorts of stuffed critters are legal to own. For instance, I’ve been told that if I happened to have any antique mounts of endangered species – which I don’t, and even if I did, they’d have been in my family for generations, since back before piping plovers and least terns and stegosauruses were even endangered – it would be against the law, and I might be subject to arrest and prosecution just because my dining room table is held up by four Canada lynx standing on the shells of four Blanding’s turtles each of which is supported by a quartet of yellow-nosed voles.
How were my ancestors supposed to know that was going to turn out to be against the law?
If the statute against that kind of thing can’t be repealed, maybe we need to pass an ordinance here in Franklin County that says we’re too busy chasing pot farmers to harass law-abiding citizens who happened to have the occasional ivory-billed woodpecker on a bookcase or a humpback whale next to the backyard pool.
The idea of passing a law that says you’re not going to enforce some other law may seem absurd to you, but that’s probably because you’re not from Portland. In Maine’s most populous city, that notion not only makes sense to lots of folks, it appears there’ll be an actual referendum on it this November.
A group called Sensible Portland (with a name like that, you know they’ve got a sense of humor) has gathered enough signatures to put a measure on the local ballot that makes enforcement of marijuana laws the lowest possible priority of the police department. If this passes, a person couldn’t be arrested in Portland for possession of weed unless they were also committing a “violent criminal offense” or were involved in the practice of taxidermy on endangered species (hippies, for instance).
If that law was in effect in West Athens on the Fourth of July, the entire town would have been incarcerated. Inexplicable acts of violence broke out along the route of the local parade, which, ironically, is meant to promote peace. Police blamed the fights on drinking, drugs, and genetic predispositions to be assholes.
Please notice: No one said anything about taxidermy being responsible.
But, come to think of it, no one said it wasn’t.
It would probably be best for West Athens’ municipal pride if the whole thing turned out to be the fault of malicious space aliens with secret rays that cause humans to go nuts and behave in ways they never would consider under normal circumstances. Which, officer, is how that stuffed golden eagle got perched on my mantle.
Oops, this just in: It’s no longer politically correct to call the little green creeps in flying saucers “space aliens.” According to a Ufologist (defined as a person who thinks “E.T.” is a documentary) interviewed by the Lewiston Sun Journal, the correct term for slime-covered, tentacled, drooling beasties from other planets – who come to Earth to copulate with our women and force our children into re-education camps where they’ll be simultaneously indoctrinated in secular humanism and radical fundamentalism – the more inclusive and sensitive term is “EBE.” That stands for “extraterrestrial biological entities.”
I’d give anything to have the stuffed head of one of those.
Al Diamon informs us he does not possess any illegal taxidermy. If you don’t believe that, email him at email@example.com and ask him yourself.