Uninterested in anything

By David Grima | Feb 04, 2021

You can be sure it is the dead of winter, and that many people are losing the charge in their batteries, when the editor of your favorite weekly newspaper posts such burning questions on Facebook as “What medical school did Dr. Who go to?”

Personally, I never thought Dr. Who was a medical kind of doctor in the first place. But it never pays to look into these things too closely, as you risk upsetting decades of fixed ideas.

I do not know for certain when "Dr. Who" began showing up on American television, but I was watching it back in the mid-60s when the very first Doctor, a white-haired old chap played by William Hartnell, who dressed like an escapee from Victorian London, was in charge of the Tardis. The show used to come on early Saturday evenings, and would frequently scare me to death.

The sheer creativity involved in the invention of the original Doctor’s many other-worldly opponents was terrific. To this day I can still list most of them: The Zarbi were ferocious human-sized ants; the Menoptera were human-sized moth creatures; the Cybermen were glistening robots (human-sized, naturally); the Yeti were vast and hairy ape-like creatures who could be deactivated by lifting a flap on their tummies and operating some hidden switch; and the Daleks were the Daleks.

Terror is a great aid to memory.

I have sometimes thought Rockland would be a great place to set a science fiction television series. The first episode could begin with all the members of Rockland City Council being secretly replaced by Pod People from another planet, and the public only starts to understand what has happened when the “council” uses valuable time to vote on having an official Rockland song.

This is followed by their famous decision to make traffic on Main Street flow west in the morning and east in the afternoon; and then by a notorious decision to build concrete towers all over town to see if they could prevent me finding my way home.

The next episode could focus on one dreadful morning in high summer when all the streets are deserted, and even though it is the first weekend in August there is no Lobster Festival.

Instead, alien saucers are seen hovering above Dodges Mountain and then land, to release the captured souls of the real councilors who then attempt to persuade everyone that they are real people, not the identical Pod People who have turned city hall into a stadium where young people are forced to fight each other on cable TV.

The possibilities are probably endless, such as another episode in which people trying to drive to Owls Head suddenly realize that the solid-seeming reality they have always believed in actually ends at the town line, and beyond it is a group of faceless humanoids in blue suits busily constructing a cardboard facsimile of a quaint New England town.

* * * * *

In a strange and slightly off-center way, an alternative Rockland is actually available for public inspection.

Rockland Historical Society often posts old photos on its Facebook page, usually attracting dozens of comments from people who remember when things really did look like that, when you could buy groceries on Main Street and most people got around by walking.

It’s quite a popular feature. One wonders whether the Rockland Historical Society of the year 2090 will post pictures on its Sanitized BookFace account, showing images of Main Street populated by people wearing face masks, and drinking coffee in a plastic tent on the sidewalk near that old movie theater — what was it called? Ah yes, the Strand.

Readers will be posting comments too, answering questions about why this was happening, and does anybody remember?

“Yes, I remember,” says Milly Molly Mandy who lives at 1187 Mighty Mechanic Boulevard, which is part of the Semi-Autonomous Republic of the South End.

“I remember my grandpa telling me that when he was a boy, people wore these face things because they were all going to die horribly if they didn’t. Surely that can’t be true? It sounds like science fiction to me.”

Does anybody remember movies?

* * * * *

Records held by the historical society show that the Semi-Autonomous Republic of the South End was created when the Lime City split into three parts during the Rockland Civil War of 2030.

This happened, apparently, because in 2020 the City Council and the City Planning Board fell out over the legality, or otherwise, of a cell phone tower proposed for the former Route 1, known in 2090 as Great Canada Highway.

(Note: cell phones were a popular but primitive communication device in the early part of the century, based on something that first appeared in a 1960s TV show called "Star Trek." People kept dropping them because they were too big for their pockets, if you can believe such a thing. Today, of course, we all have implanted telepathetic cells.)

Anyway, as a result of the impasse over the cell tower, both sides hired lawyers to try and settle the matter, but after a tedious decade when no traction could be gained by either side in the courts, each hired its own armed militia to defend its position.

City Council naturally used public funds to fit out 50 semi-trained warriors recruited from several bars around town, while the Planning Board was obliged to use its own money (which was not much) to equip a couple of dozen volunteers who were scraped together from people who lost their cars in the parking lot outside Hannaford.

Delighted at the fact that armed insurrection was now a popular pastime with an established historical precedent, the two sides then attempted to bring each other to the point of mortal combat. They spent 15 or 20 weeks waving a variety of home-made flags and unsuccessfully tracking each other around town, like a troop of lost Unified Youth Scouts, until at last they accidentally met at Snow Marine Park and scared each other half to death.

The city thereupon split into three factions: Those in favor of the cell tower versus those who were not, and who were also against tiny houses and anything else you can think of; and a third party of citizens who were utterly and sublimely uninterested in anything.

These latter seceded, creating the Semi-Autonomous Republic, whereof I have spoken. Their greatest political and economic asset was that they were the vast majority, and so everyone else decided wisely to leave them alone.

David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at davidgrima@ymail.com.

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Comments (2)
Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Feb 05, 2021 11:58

It must be said that David Grima has an imagination second to none. The scary part is much of it may come true.

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Feb 05, 2021 07:08

Absolutely nothing would surprise us these days, would it?

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