Remember the Maine

by Paul Marino | 11/8/01 6:00am

There once was a dream that was Maine, but you could only whisper it. That dream has since been realized, as Maine ceded from Massachusetts on March 15, 1820 and became its own state. That's why they call Massachusetts the Mother Land. Yes, once up on a time, Mainers were Massholes, too.

The first human inhabitants of what is now Maine arrived in 3000 B.C., years after glaciers had disappeared from the region, leaving a coast of jagged inlets and some 2,000 coastal islands. Clothed in garbs of flannel, these Ice Age lobstermen lived on a diet of white potatoes and deep-fried seafood, eaten in "sea side" style feast huts. Covered in wooden shingles, these feast huts were adorned inside with sea paraphernalia, such as lobster buoys suspended from the ceiling, prize fish mounted on the walls, and sea captain-shaped salt and pepper shakers. "Cheap eats" like Fish & Chips could be had indoors or out on the deck while kids under 12 usually ate free.

Though Maine's people and culture have changed drastically since prehistoric times, it still remains the union's number one "Vacationland," a name given to the state by Viking Lief Ericson upon arriving to Maine's shore from Greenland in the early 11th century. It is disputable whether Ericson landed in Maine's "Down East" region or as far north as "the County." Either way, he was impressed enough to bring the kids back every year to Funtown USA, off Route 195 in Saco.

"There is more to Maine than the Portland Pirates," claims Bradford Marden '04, referring to Maine's acclaimed AHL hockey team, who beat the Worcester Ice Cats 3-2 three weeks ago.

"Maine is a beacon of freedom, and nothing will keep that light from shining." And with vanity plates in Maine at $15 per registration -- compared to New Hampshire's $40 initial fee plus $25 a year -- Brad is right. In fact, Maine was also the first state with official constitutional suffrage for all citizens. "Live Free or Die," New Hampshire? Looks like basic freedoms in Maine are 4U2NV.

But I'm not going to spend my day at the beach rubbing lotion on Maine's back, as one might say. Of course if I did, I would deceptively spell out the word "jerk" across Maine's back with sunscreen, so that every one would laugh at him when the words, bleached into his skin by the sun, stood out against a brightly sunburned body. That's right, I hate Maine. But they hate Massachusetts, so I guess we're even. Still, I speak softly on the subject. Mainers take state criticism very personally and often lose their tempers on such occasions.

Just recently, a friend and resident of Hampden, Maine, Max Brooks '04 lashed out at me when I made a comment critical of Maine's famous Civil War general, Joshua Chamberlain, and his role in the Battle of Appomattox.

"You take that back, Marino," snapped Max with bulging eyeballs and strained neck. "You'd kill your own Pa just to marry your Ma, you dirty son of a b----." Max is a theater major, so it's not as if he didn't realize the strong Oedipal implications of his words. He knew what he said, and that's why it hurt.

It should be mentioned, however, that neither Max Brooks nor his brother Gabe '02 is a typical Mainer. They are not Loyalists, that is. You see, for reasons both economic and of culturo-value differences, there is a common sentiment in northern Maine -- particularly in the northernmost Aroostook County, home mostly to potato farmers -- to secede from its highly urbanized southern counterpart and claim separate statehood. This 51st state, which would likely be called Maine II or Little Maine Jr., would include most land north of Augusta, with Bangor as its capital. The Brooks family resides in Hampden, part of Penobscot County, considered to be in northern Maine. "When the time comes, my wife and I will be armed and ready," says Phillip Brooks, father of Max and Gabe, in enthusiastic support of the rebel movement.

What I am saying has truth to it. These Maine-haters hate Maine just about as much as I do, and there is in fact a common sentiment to cede, especially among citizens of Aroostook County. And don't be fooled into thinking independence is not underway, just because they haven't attempted any messy legislative action. That's simply not their style. These potato farmers mean business -- done right, done quick, done with firearms. And I tell you what, when s-- goes down I will join them. I don't give a damn what I am fighting for, so long as I have license to rough up a Mainer or two.

Maybe I'm just holding a grudge. But who wouldn't after Maine up and walks out on your state? Since that lonely day in March, 1820 when you seceded from Massachusetts, things just haven't been the same around here, and I'll be damned if I'm going to let you go, Maine. I see you talking to New Hampshire. I see the way you look into each other's eyes, the way you toss your long hair back over your shoulders when you're talking to him, the way you stand so close. You want to annex yourself to New Hampshire; is that it? Why are you doing this? Look, if it's something we said Maine, baby, you know we never meant to hurt you. Honey, the kids miss you, all right -- please just come home.