Saint John — Wednesday morning, Saint John Mayor Don Darling told CBC’s Information Morning that he wants to take the city to a “new level” of cleanliness. To clarify what he meant by this statement, he invited reporters to join him for a brief stroll down Waterloo Street later that day.
When he met them outside Tim Hortons, he was carrying a Subway sandwich and waving enthusiastically.
“Hello, hello, hello,” he said cordially, as everyone gathered around him.
“Observe,” he said, tossing the perfectly good sandwich onto the ground. “I want to make our city so clean that your average citizen would have no scruples about eating food off of its streets.”
Darling bent over and gathered the sandwich. Reporters recoiled in disgust as he raised the mess of soiled bread and cold cuts to his mouth and took a bite.
“We’re not quite there yet, of course,” he said, picking nondescript dirt and hair out of his teeth. “But if we stick to my plan, we will be able to comfortably get down…”
He did so, despite cries of protest from reporters. “…and kiss the pavement,” he said, proudly displaying his commitment to the cause. “Even…”
He placed his tongue to the street.
“Oh my god, stop,” sobbed the Telegraph-Journal reporter.
“Ugh, this is disgusting,” said Darling, continuing to lick the ground. “Looth ath all thith dirth ahhn mah tongue!”
The mayor stuck out his tongue to show reporters, and indeed, a great deal of dust, grime and cigarette ash stuck to it. Most noticeably, an old Band-Aid had stuck itself around his sweet-and-salty receptors. He decided to leave it on, however, to “abate the bleeding from the broken glass.”
Darling stood, brushed himself off, and continued on down the street, intermittently pointing out objects and people he deemed “unclean.” All of a sudden, he came to a stop just short of Sense of Tokyo.
“I would like to stress that this is not an issue of one economic class imposing one structure over another,” he proclaimed. “I promise to hold myself to the same standard of cleanliness and personal hygiene.”
And with that, Darling stripped naked and began rolling in a shallow puddle of water.
“Listen,” he said, seriously, rubbing water over his freckled back. “I don’t see any reason why this puddle of stagnant liquid has to be any less clean than my home bathtub or yours.”
As reporters began walking away, shaking their heads, two thoughts crossed their mind at once. The first, of course, being that the mayor was a strange and disturbed man, unfit to hold public office. The other? There goes a man who is willing to sit butt-naked and soaking wet in front of his constituents for what he believes in.
For that, in a way, he is a hero.