“I can’t just be the girl who sang ‘I Kissed a Girl.’ I have to leave a legacy.”

— Katy Perry

There comes a time in every man’s life, someone once said, when he has to consider his legacy. I’m not sure who, Henry VIII, I think.

This morning I woke up in a cold sweat (left the electric blanket on all night) thinking about my own case. What, I wondered, will happen to my personal belongings, my papers, 30 years of columns and film reviews, the accouterments acquired in my long journey in pursuit of fame and fortune. To think that all of that would be lost, depriving future generations of readers of my art. I’m sweating again just thinking of it.

This all came about by reading of television’s “Mad Men” this morning, and how they’re going to put the character Don Draper’s coat and hat in the Smithsonian. Don Draper, for crying out loud. Of course the Smithsonian has a long list of artifacts I knew nothing about:

Harrison Ford’s leather jacket, hat and bull whip from “Indiana Jones,” a big concrete chunk of Route 66, presumably without oil or blood stains or the remains of road kill; the 100-year-old mechanized dead body of a monk commissioned by Charles V in the 16th Century; a stuffed carrier pigeon from Word War II; talk show host Wendy Williams’ pink microphone: the first cash register: the first margarita machine; John Glenn’s spacesuit; Evel Knievel’s motorcycle and Napoleon’s napkin.

You can’t make this stuff up and I want to be part of it.

I can hear you chuckling. Stop it. This is a serious matter. Given that I am a published writer, it is entirely within the realm of possibility that within the next few years, I could be nominated for a Pulitzer prize, or for that matter, any prestigious writing award that would suddenly propel me to greatness.

At any time in my past life this would have been a fabulous occurrence, one to be relished. But as I am in the early portion of late middle age, time, as John Wayne would say, is “a-wasting.”

I can’t trust She, who is way too busy supporting our current lifestyle, to gather together all the required papers, assorted columns, diaries, notes, jottings and musings, not to mention the recordings I made of various phone calls and emails.

I don’t even want to think about the collection of all my Facebook postings. Throwback Thursday alone would be a nightmare for her to track. Does the Smithsonian even have a Facebook section?

These past few months, I’ve been going through 30 years of columns from Hollywood and here, to fuel my upcoming book “Will Write For Food,” to be published in the fall by North Country Press. There were many times in the past that I was going to toss most of them into the recyclable bin. God intervened.

And what, I wonder, would happen to the many screen plays I wrote in Hollywood, including one or two that are still making the rounds? The Smithsonian will want them. I don’t know what’s happening with them, because I discovered that my old writing agent’s number had been changed. She was of an advanced age when I hired her, so she’s probably in a nursing home or dead. That’s a typical Hollywood agent’s trick.

What, I’m left to wonder, would happen if one of the scripts finds its way out from the bottom of a studio’s pile of rejects and lands on the desk of producers Harvey and Bob Weinstein? Suddenly it’s made into a blockbuster film and wins me an Oscar? Aside from my having to rent a tux for Oscar night, the industry would be hungry for more of my old scripts. I’ve seen this happen.

But fame is transitory, someone once said. Monica Lewinsky, I think.

So, it’s the long picture I’m looking at, the gradual progression from being a lone voice in the Maine wilderness, to the Klieg lighted, perfume scented madness of the cover of Vanity Fair. If all else fails, I guess I’m stuck with all of my stuff.

Garage sale maybe? Oh God. I’m so weary of dreaming.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.


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