I stood on the beach near Fort Popham and watched in blissful fascination the performance of the seals.

For nearly an hour they danced for us in the dimming light of dusk. They splashed and dove and frolicked with the unrestrained enthusiasm of gleeful children. Every now and then, a seal would rise from the water with great fanfare, a fish clamped in its grinning mouth. It would seem to stand tall over the gleaming surface of the ocean, displaying its catch with pride and honor.

Such majesty, I thought. Such a wild beauty on display on this, the world’s glorious stage. I shall return home at once to write a dazzling story about the awe and wonder of the seals!

The spirit of that thought lasted about 14 seconds, after which I decided that: Nah. I ain’t writing that. I mean, who am I, Henry David Thoreau all up in here? A couple playful sea creatures and I’m ready to write a sonnet?

Yeesh, brother. Get a grip.

So, now that it’s Monday or whatever day it is, and since there’s no seal column ready to fly, I’ve got to come up with SOMETHING to write about or I won’t get paid this week.

Pound the pavement? Drill my sources for scraps of fresh information? Plunge deep into my mortal psyche and plumb the depths of my soul?

That just sounds gross. So instead of engaging in all of that hard and disgusting work, I turned back to the best source of them all for a column idea: Facebook.

Call me lazy if you want to. Condemn me for sloth, cheating and bad breath if it has to be done, but I tell you this. Writing columns in a time of COVID-19 and nightly protests on the streets ain’t easy if you’re trying to keep things light.

And so off to Facebook I went, where an army of people as bored as myself is always there to offer up comfort, support and some truly lunatic ridiculous ideas.

“Write about skin tags,” offered one deranged individual.

“Write about thick eyebrows,” offered another.

A third thought a column about the complexities of the human uvula was the very thing that would propel me into the land of high literary success, although I find that idea hard to swallow.

A nice lass named Faith encouraged me to write about “the price of coconuts in China.” And so, to show her that I’m an enlightened and hardworking journalist, kind of, I looked it up.

As it happens, one can get a metric ton of coconut meat for between $1,000 and $2,000 U.S. dollars, although if you’re after coconut diethanolamide, that’s going to set you back roughly 80 cents per kilogram. Boy, and to think that back in my day, you could get a gallon of diethanolamide for just a nickel.

Marianne wonders — it keeps her up at night — if there was a battle between June bugs and black flies, who would win?

Excellent question, Marianne. According to my most trusted sources in entomology and military strategy, based on size, defensive capabilities and the early summer climate, there can be no such war inasmuch as every single June bug on the planet is attached to my screen door and is thus unavailable for warfare. Hope this helps!

Cindy writes: “You should write about what things have changed or not since marijuana was legalized and how that affects people looking for a job in Maine. Answer some basic questions, like, ‘If I use CBD oil daily will any THC show up in a urine test?’ things like that.”

It’s a very intriguing and important question she poses, which quite frankly, makes me resent Cindy a little bit. I’m trying to write a column here, lady. I wasn’t interested in doing any actual work. Next!

A person named Jamie (in keeping with the not-wanting-to-work attitude, I didn’t bother to check Jamie’s profile to see if the name belongs to a he or a she) demands a deeper discussion of “the insane amount of pine cones on Hampshire Street in Auburn.”

I don’t know what to tell you about the proliferation of pine cones in that particular area, sir or madam, but I can tell you that if you were in China, you could sell those suckers for about 400 bucks per metric ton. Probably. I didn’t actually look that one up.

Eddie sent along a link to a photo that features a raccoon clinging to the back of a boar while considering a mean-eyed opossum. The caption: “Coronaviruses? Riots? Why is the media not covering the fact that raccoons are breaking wild hogs and riding them into battle against the opossums?”

Seriously, why would I even comment on this one? It’s sheer perfection as is.

Tina wrote: “I think you should write one about all the wild edible mushrooms,” a message that gave me horrible flashbacks. Clearly Tina wasn’t around the last time I went hunting wild mushrooms and ended up curled into a fetal position on the forest floor believing I was a Connect Four checker. Never again, Tina! Never. Again.

Elizabeth offered a topic, as Elizabeth is wont to do, that would get me both fired and brought up on charges of public indecency. Seriously, what is the MATTER with you, Beth?

A few Facebookers (Facebookians?) floated ideas that were so somber and serious, they made me feel a little bit guilty about fishing about for utter nonsense to write about.

Jewell, for instance, suggested I write about the matter of forgiveness. Tina asked that I address the nature of friendship. Casey believes it’s time to talk frankly about the importance of homesteading, and she’s right, but what am I going to do? When you’ve opened with eyebrows and uvulas, it’s way too late to pivot into that level of seriousness.

Let’s get on with the list, shall we? We all have important things to do today.

“Rose chafer beetles!” thundered Ralph. “They are decimating the garden right now!”

Hold down the fort, Ralph! I shall send my squadron of attack June bugs and a pig-mounted raccoon at once!

Elizabeth suggested … But I can’t read this one. Darn that Elizabeth. Get therapy!

“Rainbows and butterflies,” offers Teresa, and I think that’s probably code for something, but I don’t know what. Bet it’s something filthy. You people are sick!

Also put forth as column ideas were gardening, mosquitoes, writer’s block, nothing, Festivus, Elmer Fudd’s violent history (coming soon, that one), Father’s Day, metal detecting (possibly coming soon), the heartbreak of psoriasis, ‘Wounded Knee on Ice’ the musical, these darn kids coming up nowadays, toenail clippings (not even kidding) and something about caterpillars. I don’t know. I quit reading after I’d filled the appropriate amount of column space.

So, we didn’t tackle the world’s biggest problems here today, but that’s all right. Once in a while, you’ve got to put all those woes aside, clear your head and just watch the seals prancing in the moonlight on a warm summer night. Sometimes, you need to just curl up on the forest floor and pretend you’re a game piece.

Hey, I did it and just look how well-adjusted I turned out.

When Mark LaFlamme is not searching the World Wide Web for column ideas, he’s a staff writer for the Sun Journal. Stick to what you know, Mark.


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