Once upon a time there was a senator named Susan, who came from a magnificent land of tall trees, mighty rivers and abundant bugs that crawl upon the bottom of the sea. The people called this strange and beautiful place Maine.
Susan belonged to a powerful club that wrote laws not just for Maine, but for the entire Kingdom. This club was called the Elephant Party. The Elephant Party was full of superstitious people who often did terrible things. They sent fearsome armies to faraway lands to wage war and plunder treasure. They helped the rich and hurt the poor and treated the very earth they stood upon as if it was theirs to destroy.
Despite this, most of the people of Maine liked Susan. Sometimes she argued with the other Elephants and refused to follow their evil plans. Even when she did disagreeable things, she was seldom criticized by the scribes who delivered news to the populace.
Susan had many reasons to be happy. She had plenty of treasure and lots of power. When she walked down the street during big parades people smiled and waved at her, and Susan would smile and wave to them in return.
Susan looked happy on the outside, and she had many fine things but no one to share them with. At feasts and banquets, when the wine was gone, the speeches were over and all the checks from the rich were collected, the other senators went home to their spouses and children. But Susan was usually alone.
Now, among the many laws of the Kingdom, some were good and some were bad, but one was particularly cruel. This law decreed that people are free to marry the person of their choosing, with one capricious exception: People with freckles cannot marry other freckled people.
As I said, the Elephant Party was full of superstitious people, and they believed some crazy things. Among these was the idea that freckled people are wicked inside and will not go to the Peaceful Palace in the Clouds when they die.
The Elephants thought that if freckled people were allowed to marry other freckled people, then marriage would no longer have any meaning or significance for the unblemished denizens of the Kingdom.
Susan apparently agreed with this law, but unlike most other Elephants she did not think it should apply to the entire Kingdom. She said each of the Kingdom’s 50 lands should be allowed to decide on their own if freckled people can get married. And she supported other laws that helped freckled folks, like one that allowed them to serve in the army without having to cover their faces with cosmetics and another that makes it a crime to hurt a person just because they have freckles.
The years went by, and some lands in the Kingdom did decide to allow the freckled to wed, but Maine was not among these lands. When the people of Maine voted on the question of freckled marriage in 2009, Susan voted too, but she would not say whether she voted yes or no.
Meanwhile, Susan still hadn’t found someone to marry. Then one winter’s day, Susan made a big announcement: She planned to get married come summertime. The people of Maine rejoiced, freckled and unfreckled alike. As the big day approached, all the scribes wrote wonderful things about Susan and her husband-to-be.
None of them mentioned that she was getting married during yet another great debate on freckled marriage in Maine. The people were going to vote on the question again in just a few months. The pollsters in the land were predicting the result would be close but that the freckled and their allies had a real chance of winning this time.
Because she’s so popular, Susan could practically guarantee the freckled will finally be given the right to marry in Maine. All she’d have to do is say a short spell into a magic microphone: “I support freckled marriage.” And what more appropriate time to cast that spell than during the summer days when all of Maine is discussing her own nuptials?
Alas, the big day came and went, and Susan hardly said a word. Then she left for a honeymoon in a secret land. When she returns, there will still be time to cast that little spell and give this fairy tale a truly happy ending.
Chris Busby is editor and publisher of The Bollard, a monthly magazine about Portland. His column appears here weekly.