Two Minutes’ Hate: Morono
It’s time for playoff hockey, and that means it’s time to throw rational, fact-driven commentary out the window. We present to you now a positively Orwellian exercise in general dislike: “The Two Minutes’ Hate.”
Maine is known as “Vacationland,” and for good reason. Just about two hours north of Lowell, an actual city with actual ethnic diversity and culture, is the beautiful lakes region. Picturesque sunsets over sparkling water nestled in forests of evergreen at the feet of rolling hills. We spent many a summer up there in our youth, and for a long time had nothing but pleasant memories of idyllic July and August days spent minigolfing and swimming in what we thought was a wholly pleasant state.
We were wrong.
Because if you are so unlucky to continue past the lakes region, which is really just the spillover of both of New Hampshire’s good qualities (people from a proper state like Massachusetts go there in the summer, and… okay that’s actually pretty much it), and then continue to continue past your distant memories of the lakes region and how nicely your life could have turned out, you will, after another two hours of driving past shabby Burger King rest stops, finally arrive in Orono.
Once you get there, really stop to have a look around. If you’re not on the verge of tears within five seconds, you should start looking for a home in the area, because you are just the right kind of person for the area: equal parts unbalanced, antisocial, illogically fearful of “The Revenuers” coming to take away your still, and legally blind.
The old adage that the cream rises to the top categorically cannot be true, given what we have seen in Orono. What hath the detritus of western society wrought to create such a vortex of unkempt facial hair, obesity and predilection for clothing that comes in “hunter orange?” This is a place where only the dregs of the dregs of society can hope to hack out a meager, $12,000-a-year living on.. well, we dunno. Probably something to do with rock-moving.
We’d say that Dante Alighieri had a more pleasant trip on his descent into hell since he got to get a look at a couple of popes drowning in feces, which seems like it’d be a laugh, but that’s underselling it. Dante never had the uniquely torturous experience of trying to get out of the Alfond Arena parking lot in less than 45 minutes, though the signs that read, “Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here,” are by all accounts strikingly similar.
Honestly, no one that wasn’t clinically handicapped or on the run from John Law could look at any individual square foot of Orono and say, “This is a place I want to live.” What does Orono offer that, say, Tikrit doesn’t? Beyond that one combination-KFC/Taco Bell, we can’t imagine what.
Of course, one of Orono’s most famous residents is horror writer Stephen King, who attended Maine and still lives in the area. We mean, we thought he was stupid when we read a plot summary of “Christine,” but that just proves it. Besides, we like to think of everything he’s written — murderous clownspiders, the apocalypse being started by a disease named after Jerry Garcia, every plot point of those HIDEOUS Richard Bachman books — it’s all escapist fantasy, because compared to living in Orono, having your four-year-old son torn apart by a rabid St. Bernard would be like a Caribbean vacation. And while we’ve never spent more time in Orono than it takes to arrive, see a hockey game and leave, we know we’ve felt a desire to hack our families up with an axe begin to creep into our souls in just three hours, so we can almost sympathize.
Of course the thing over which we feel the most empathy for Orono residents is the awful, awful hockey team they have to watch, not that they don’t deserve every last drop of the indignity. After all, this is a fanbase that has maintained its reputation for being among the best in Hockey East when in fact it has slipped to ninth in the league, just ahead of Amherst.
Though who could blame them? Here we have a coach that has been an utter failure at every program for which he’s coached — don’t say we didn’t warn you — trying to attract players to a urine-soaked hellhole. Any player with any amount of talent that is eventually tricked into attending the school on the promise that they will never have to go to class or obey society’s laws (isn’t that right, Tanner House, Wes Clark, Nicholas Payson, Dave Wilson, Mike Hamilton, Travis Wight, Brent Shepheard, Bret Tyler, Rob Bellamy, Keith Johnson, and probably at least two of the Kariyas?) almost always leaves before their allotted four years are up. It almost goes far enough to explain why this group of people, obviously keen observers of the sport, once trumpeted a literally worthless player like Simon Danis-Pepin* as a future All-American without a hint of irony.
It’s actually true that attendance at Maine hockey games has dropped in eight of the nine years since Whitehead took over — and by “took over” we very obviously mean “happened to be standing around when Shawn Walsh died” — so perhaps the salt-of-the-earth people of Orono are finally wising up and realizing they could be doing something better with their time, like getting the hell out of town.
Orono, by the way, is celebrating a bit of a milestone today. It was incorporated on March 12, 1806, so it’s the town’s 204th birthday.
Hopefully Lowell wins so handily that this is its last.