So, let me get this straight. You're mad at the governor because he wants to keep state offices open when it's snowing outside.
This causes me great confusion. I could have sworn you were the person who, just a few months ago, stood with your hands on your hips declaring that Mainers have become soft. So soft that we close everything at the first sight of a few harmless flakes floating from the sky. So soft that it makes you sick, because back in your day, people worked no matter what it was like outside. Because men were men back in those gritty times and women were also men. That's how the people of the olden days were.
I could have sworn that was you.
Don't get me wrong. I have no idea yet how I feel about Gov. Kiss My Butt. I figure I'll get around to despising the man when he outlaws motorcycles on state trails. Or I'll get to adoring him when he declares a state holiday for night-beat reporters with bad haircuts.
But this "As Marden's Goes, So Goes the State of Maine" philosophy? Oh, yeah. I can get behind that.
You want to talk about grit? Marden's has grit. So do the people who work there; so do the people who will elbow you in the face to get at the last toaster oven in the store.
If Marden's gets a shipment of DVD players and bitching Ronco products, do people stay away because it's snowing outside? Nossir, they do not. They will steal chains from a pit bull, if they have to, and strap them onto their tires for traction. They will mug a delivery man in a parking lot just to get at his four-wheel drive or slap snowshoes onto their feet and hike 15 miles to Main Street.
Have you seen those Ronco products? They not only slice; they dice, as well!
Marden's should serve as a standard for the state because in its way, Marden's IS Maine. It's people acting friendly toward one another while harboring feelings of great competition. That old lady in curlers will say nice things about your sweater, but if you make a move toward the frapaccino machine she has her eye on, brother, her arthritic knee will be in your groin so fast, you won't have time to mutter, "I should have bought it when I saw it" with the last of your breath.
When you can get one of those fake fireplaces for under a hundred bucks and a slightly musty-smelling sleeping bag for ten, you find a way. You brush the snow from your windshield with red, raw hands. You get a Marden's party together and car pool. You remind your rotten, selfish son that you spent 36 hours squeezing him into the world and if he really loved you, he'd drive you to Marden's and then wait three hours while you shop.
Grit? Marden's is grit. People who will complain to the union if they have to lift a box weighing more than 18 pounds will mysteriously find a way to tuck a computer under one arm, a recliner under the other and carry them around the store.
Folks who are lousy at managing money at home can nonetheless manage to take a $20 bill to Marden's and come out with enough food for a week, some toys for the kids and enough fabric to cover the backyard pool.
Couples who failed at marriage counseling are utterly happy together at Marden's.Why not? Clothes for both men and women. A craft section on one floor, nothing but tools below. A man who can't stand his wife most days will adore her if she can help him lug a spanking-new toilet out to the truck.
When we say "the way life should be," we're not talking about nine months of lousy weather, black flies and drunk guys with rifles. We're talking about frugality, reliability and only slightly water-damaged fun.
Marden's, baby! With a capital "M" and that rhymes with "gem" and that's what we've got out there in a big lot where it's never a chore to find parking!
The state's mascot is a chickadee. A bird, for crying out loud, that will crap on your car the first chance it gets. At Marden's, it's Flo. And let's face it: Isn't Flo pretty much every other person you know? She's half crazy and loud but you love her anyway. She's your next-door-neighbor, favorite aunt or the store clerk who keeps you flush with beer and smokes. Flo is optimism and unflagging good cheer. She's the one you'll trust if you need a fast lasagna recipe or tips on how to get blood stains out of the curtains.
When's the last time a chickadee has helped you scrub a crime scene?
Marden's is a model for us all. The next time you're indecisive — should I go to work or call in sick? Sock the tax refund away for the kids' college fund or blow it all at once? — ask yourself what you would do if you just got word of a huge shipment of camping gear and stereo equipment down at your favorite discount store.
That's right, Bucky. You'd throw on your boots, shovel your yard and get your butt down there to fight old ladies over the last pup tent. There's no crying in super savings.
The governor says that's how we should operate as a state and you've got to agree he may be onto something. We just have to hope that the man will practice what the people of Marden's preach. Because if he goes soft, or if he keeps at it with that sass talk, you just know our fine friend Flo will kick him where he asked to be kissed.
Mark LaFlamme is a Sun Journal staff writer. Send discount-shopping alerts to firstname.lastname@example.org.