I get letters. And emails and Facebook likes, but mostly comments in the market next to the bananas and the avocados that are on sale.

I can’t tell you how many letters and emails because I don’t count them, and she, who picks up the mail, discards many of them in the trash before they get into the house. I have to scrounge through the garbage can, because on occasion, she has accidentally thrown my Social Security checks away. She also checks my emails to make sure I’m not wasting my time playing word games with the countless middle-aged, divorced or widowed women who keep trying sneaky little ways to get my phone number.

From time to time, I write a column answering many of the questions I get. Here I answer the most common queries.

• Tell us more about your family.

They are mostly all dead. I have a younger sister who is retired, but she reads a lot and only answers my questions with one word:

“How are you?”



“How is the weather in St. Louis?”


That’s it. My brothers are all in heaven arguing with each other and avoiding my mother, whom, I presume is still looking for my father who cleverly stayed in purgatory, where unlike heaven, you are allowed to drink.

• Speaking of religion, what do you think of the new pope? I understand you did not get a call from him.

No, I did not. But he’s busy reshaping the church, you know. I notice that in his latest press meeting he said that the church should be taking care of the old.


I like that. I’m old, and I will soon need to be taken care of. One would think that she, who is very Catholic, would be in charge of that. I wonder then, why does she have a one-way ticket to Miami hidden in her desk drawer?

• You often write about your old girlfriend Rosemary DeBranco. Did she really have “one thousand and one Angora sweaters and a simple strand of pearls?”

Yes, she did. I never counted them, but she often wore two or three a day, a cream colored one to homeroom, pink to the Velvet Freeze Ice Cream Emporium, and when we went out a night, something she called mauve.

The pearls were always the same. It turned out that her mother sold sweaters at the Famous-Barr Co. department store.

• Is She really as strict, focused and bossy as you portray her?

(Whispering) I’m writing this on the deck, and she’s standing nearby, glancing at the screen as she pretends to water a plant. Pretends?


It’s a fake plant. Seriously, it’s only because she loves me and wants to keep me out trouble. You had to know about the New York and Los Angeles years to understand that.

• What would you do if they fired you at the newspaper?

First of all they wouldn’t fire me. Someone told them I’m 89, the oldest guy on the paper, and they fear being sued for ageism. Besides, most of the bosses don’t even know who I am. They just assume I’m syndicated like “Blondie,” or “Mark Trail.”

• But should it happen, what would you do?

Well, I still have she who, even in retirement, makes more money than I do. I even suspect she has bank accounts in other names in Los Angeles, just in case. But should this happen, I would like to work outside in the fresh air. I’ve applied for one of those road worker positions, the ones to hold the signs that read “stop” and “slow.” I prefer the slow sign, because you know, the stop guy is the most hated. You notice everyone smiles and waves at the slow sign guy and gives the bird to the stop.

• Do you have plans for retirement?


I am thinking about this online Kickstarter thing, where you come up with an idea and people give you money to start it up. I came up with this idea to bottle Waterville drinking water. Think of it, a plain crystal bottle that says “WATERville.” So simple, so creative.

• When that fails, what’s plan B?

Seriously, I’m going to try to raise Kickstarter money to produce a book of my twenty-nine years of movie reviews and columns, called “Popcorn for Breakfast,” as that’s when I screen movies. Wouldn’t you pay say, $5.95 for twenty-nine years of fun reading? Hello? Hello?

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.

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