Eliot Cutler is a very funny man. And I mean that in a good way!
As part of my virtual (only in my imagination) campaign for governor, I set out to use humor to help all of us learn more about the candidates for governor. With some excellent suggestions from readers of this column, I created a Maine Stream Gubernatorial Candidate Survey, focused on fun, and urged the candidates to give us humorous answers when they felt those were appropriate.
Last week, I reported on Mike Michaud’s survey responses, and this week we present Cutler’s responses. I also noted last week that Gov. Paul LePage elected not to participate in our survey, so we can only speculate about his sense of humor. At the end of the column, I give you a way to access the entire survey.
Here are some of my favorite responses from Cutler’s survey.
• Have you ever made fun of yourself? Tell us about it!
Cutler: I make fun of myself all the time. I talk about the endless variety in my golf game. I have never swung the club the same way twice.
I joke about my clumsiness. I always wanted to own a chain saw and to have enough land and trees to use it. Shortly after we moved back to Maine in 1999, Home Depot was having a sale. So I bought a small chain saw and brought it home. When I walked into the house, (my wife) Melanie immediately picked up the phone and called my brother. “Josh,” she asked, “how would you like to have a brand-new chainsaw?”
And I tell the story about the comment that appeared in the (Bangor Daily News) after I announced that I was running for governor: “Cutler’s father, Dr. Larry Cutler, was a nice man and a good doctor. The son looks exactly like his father, but he has his mother’s personality. Unfortunate. I would never vote for him.”
• On the TV set above the door of the governor’s office, what will you be showing?
Nothing. It’s a beautiful office and the TV doesn’t belong there. I will remove it.
• Define “making do” and tell us how you personally make do in Maine.
One example is our campaign car. It’s my 1999 Chevy Suburban with 112,000 miles on it. My campaign staff begged me to get a newer car for the campaign, but I said we would have to make do with the Suburban. It’s a beast to drive, but I love it and it’s paid for.
(Cutler’s answer to this question was very long and lapsed into the serious, but I did like this paragraph from his lengthy answer. This really is about making do.)
I started working when I was 15, bagging groceries at the old Columbia Supermarket on Harlow Street in Bangor and cleaning out cooking vats in the kitchen of Eastern Maine General Hospital. Later I worked summers on road construction and in a boatyard. I worked my way through college as a clerk in a hardware store, driving for a wealthy family and parking cars in a parking garage. I learned early on how your pay at the end of a week sometimes reflected how hard you worked and sometimes didn’t, how much it hurt to see how much the government took away in taxes and how hard it was to make do — to live from paycheck to paycheck.
• Have you ever: Climbed Mount Katahdin — Yes; Rafted a Maine river — No; Been to Lubec — Yes; Shopped in North Conway — No; Shopped at the Portsmouth liquor store — Yes; Had a yard sale — No; Been to a bean suppah — Yes; Eaten bear meat — Yes; Shopped at a farmer’s market — Yes, Portland, South Portland, Windham, Ellsworth, Orono, Belfast and probably 20 or more others; Harvested fiddleheads — Nope.
• Name your Maine favorites:
Book: “Arundel” by Kenneth Roberts and “We Took to the Woods” by Louise Dickinson Rich.
Food: Lobster … though fried clams and fried dough are tied for a close second.
Beer: Any beer brewed in Maine.
Outdoor activity: Hiking.
Song: Maine Stein Song.
• Tell us about your favorite hunting or fishing experience in Maine.
Fishing for salmon early in the season on Sebago with Dick Spencer, a terrific fisherman and my friend of nearly 50 years.
• Cutler also offers a suggestion for Maine’s state slogan, told us the best thing we can do to protect the Maine we love, and provided his favorite Maine humorous story. I wish I could include that story in this column, because it’s hilarious. Cutler credits Fairfield’s Jim Julia with the story, a man he called “one of Maine’s funniest persons.” But the story is too long for this column.
You can read the story, and see all of Cutler’s survey responses, in the Maine Stream section of my website, www.georgesmithmaine.com.