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As they say down at the Moxie plant, "There's no accounting for taste." Hey, speaking of Moxie, have you heard of the coffee shop in Portland that's now serving a drink called a “Moxie-chino?” Sorry, I digress.
When it comes to some food – like a side of sushi or a pile of pigs feet – what is it that makes some folks say they just can't get enough of it, while other equally sincere folks say with equal fervor that they'd rather starve than eat such stuff?
Over the years I've often scratched my head and wondered how there can be so many different responses to one thing. Writing for various newspapers over the years I've done lots of stories on all kinds of subjects and events. In the process of writing these stories I've asked witnesses to describe simply in their own words what they saw or heard. You would not believe the responses. Well, maybe you would believe them, but I often didn't. You'd think these people were on different planets instead of standing right next to each other watching a single event unfolded before their eyes.
When it comes to the columns I write for this space each week it's the same thing. You'd never know that two readers reading the same column could come up with such different responses. But I suppose that's what makes life worth reading about in the first place. And that's what eventually feeds things like the giant tweet, text, and twitter industries.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy getting your e-mails each week and reading your comments and critiques. As you know, each week at the end of this column (space permitting) my e-mail address here at Storyteller Central is given, so that you can get in touch with me.
That having been said, I want to tell you about the response I got from my column of a while back. It was about how things have been changing here in Maine over the years. Specifically I wrote that we've gone from a place where you never had to lock your doors and protect your private property (even in tourist season) to the present state of affairs where people go driving around the state stealing anything that’s not nailed down.
Not more than a few days after the column I received two e-mails about it; one from Cambridge and one from Monmouth. Those two writers differed from each other by 180 degrees.
Anita wrote: "John, your column this week about taking what isn't yours made me laugh. We've been having a problem with a small ditch that we've been filling over the years with rocks from our fields. Three times now we have had cars or trucks back right up to the ditch to help themselves to all the rocks. It's like they don't have a clue that maybe they were put there for a reason. With our suggestion that they put them back, they move on. The good Lord willing, we'll fill that ditch someday – if people will leave our rocks alone."
I hear you, Anita! Not only did she agree with me wholeheartedly about how private property isn't as safe as it used to be, she provided a startling example. And I don't know about you, but when a pile of rocks in a ditch aren’t safe from thieves, what is our beautiful state coming to? Not that this excuses anybody, Anita, but I have noticed a lot of beautiful stonewalls around Monmouth, lately.
Feeling pretty good about myself I then opened the e-mail from Dianne in Cambridge. Like I said, she read the same column but managed to come up with a completely different view. Unlike Anita she was not amused with the column. She began:
"Generally, John, I enjoy your column, but that one about nailing things down really got me. How do you think we recycle things here in Maine? Ask any Mainer about some of his or her favorite lawn pieces and chances are you'll find he 'appropriated' them at one time or other from some other lawn. In early summer I dig up lupine plants where ever I find them and transplant them in our back meadow.
“John, isn't there enough to complain about, enough to share, without you adding another straw to the camel's back? Don't stir up the hornet's nest, huh?"
I have to admit that I loved Dianne’s mixed metaphors. Next time I’ll stir up the hornets nest with a straw from the camel's back?
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly throughout
New England. Contact John at or 899-1868.
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