The Germans always lose

By David Grima | Jul 03, 2014

There are so many pens in the world, yet so often when I phone someone and ask them to take a message they have to spend two or three minutes trying to find something to write with. In the end I am silently pleading with them, write it in your own blood, use ketchup, write it in the dust on your kitchen window, anything, but please find some way to write down this message!

Then I realized that I own so many pens myself, and wondered if I am causing a pen shortage in the world by having such large stockpiles. I have never read anything about the economic effects of the uneven distribution of pen ownership. The only other person I know who has so many of one thing is my friend Creditcard O’Meara of the Bangor Dreadful News. In his case it is knives. Also flashlights.

* * * * *

As we approach the annual remembrance of things past, I find myself wondering what happened to what was once an All-American type of entertainment, the old-fashioned cowboy and Indian movie in which a solitary whitey wearing an absurd hat and using a revolver loaded with no more than six bullets defeats an entire brigade of Indians pursuing him on horseback, shooting each of them by aiming carelessly over his shoulder while charging through the desert on his horse at 35 mph, never missing, never having to reload, and never taking a single hit himself even though there are 30 Indians firing at him with Winchester carbines. It seems we just don’t make these movies any more. Suddenly I see why. And yet playing cowboys and Indians was what we did when we were young, as well as planning and carrying out complex games occupying a whole summer afternoon in which the beastly Germans were defeated yet again, dying foolishly and most deservedly as we tossed dirt grenades and fired homemade wooden rifles or store-bought Tommy guns at them from behind grassy mounds, or ambushed them from behind the hedgerows near the school. We never lost and they never won, even when it was our turn to be the Germans and die screaming like fascist pigs, riddled with bullets forged in a highly moral imagination. It was an absolute rule, perhaps the most observed absolute we knew in our little universe. The Germans always lose.

What do children play at these days, on long summer afternoons? And where do they play it?

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A dozen of my low-rent recently discounted friends joined me for what dimly resembled dinner the other evening on top of the north tower at the foot of Mechanic Street. As we gathered solemnly around the splintery cable drum that serves as my dining room, and as we attempted to carve the small half-cooked sausage into 12 equal portions, the subject of food delivery in Rockland quite naturally came up. As far as any of us could think, which might not be very far at all, it seems the only food we can order and have brought to our doors is pizza. Yet pizza is far from being the only thing available for eating in this fine town. As we hacked away at the sausage, wishing we had one of O’Meara’s many knives instead of the useless piece of ragged cardboard at hand, we came up with a list of food that nobody will deliver, rather in the manner that men starving on a desert island or in a German POW camp will torture themselves by dreaming of elaborate menus: Chinese, Thai, Italian, Japanese, as well as sandwiches of any kind, and in fact almost everything and anything we could imagine including fish, beef, potatoes, hamburger, lobster, steamed corn, and on and on. By the time we had formulated this rather complicated stream of thought, the solitary sausage we had cooked by using the sun’s rays reflected off a piece of broken glass no longer seemed adequate. In the end we tossed it to the Four Seagulls of the Apocalypse who live up here with me close to the sky, and for a few minutes watched them as they fought over it. Then one by one we slipped quietly over the side of the tower, set each other’s broken arms and legs after the fall, (I had sold the descending rope to buy the sausage,) and fanned out across the South End looking for something proper to eat.

* * * * *

This morning as I made my way past the site of the new hotel at Pleasant and Main, I saw they had set up a sort of glasshouse, or gazebo thing, inside the wooden fence there. What does this mean?

* * * * *

Fireworks again near Linden Street.

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Concerning the white cat that will not move out of the road even in the face of traffic, as mentioned last week, a poor lady from Spruce Head with nothing better to do than read this nonsense sent me the following comment.

“David, does it have blue eyes? Those who do, or who have one blue, one green, are very likely to be deaf; it’s a genetic linkage, like the one that assures that a tortoise-shell cat is female. That would explain the lack of ambition to get out of your way, if it can’t hear you threatening it. The rest of us have no such excuse.”

First, I deny threatening the animal. It is in no peril, unless it objects to being written about in the Courier. Second, it can see me coming down the street right at it, plain as the nose on its face. Deafness would be no excuse. But I appreciate the suggestion.

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Have a happy Fourth. Personally, I will go one better and attempt a fifth. Next week, a list of all the Rockland businesses that do deliver food other than pizza, along with any retraction, apology, groveling, etc, that might be necessary if I am wrong. Go ahead. Make my day.

David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at

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