In St. Louis back in 1948, an old pol named O’Hara (not his real name) was what some called a “Hail fellow well met,” which meant he regaled the crowds with wonderful stories and could be counted on to pop for a beer now and then in all the local saloons. O’Hara soon hugged and kissed his way into office. Sorry. It was then and now, an “Irish thing.”

Those were the days, my mother always sang. Indeed they were. I was too young to know of the stories of Boston’s James Michael Curley, famously known as the 41st, 43rd, 45th and 48th mayor of Boston, who as we all know served part of one term while in prison. Well, as my mother also said, “Nobody’s perfect.”

Jimmy Curley’s father was born in County Galway, Ireland, only a mile or two from my grandfather’s house. But then in Galway, everyone was born a mile or two down the street from my grandfather’s house.

Big Jim, widely known as the “Mayor of the Poor,” spent a lot of time knocking on doors and being a regular at baptisms and weddings. He also sat at many kitchen tables and engaged in a lot of “kissin’ in the kitchen.” It’s an Irish thing.

And then we had Joe O’Connell and John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, known for his personal charm and charisma, and also as the maternal grandpa of President John F. Kennedy. You can bet old “Honey Fitz” gave out his share of “unwarranted touching and kissing.” The same could be said for his famous grandson.

So today we come to the ballad of “Uncle Joe” Biden, son of Joseph Robinette Biden Sr., who “claimed to be Irish but the claim could not be verified.” Of course not. If you spend your days trying to verify anything some Irish politician tells you, you’ll be late comin’ home for supper.

But there’s Joe’s mama, “Jean” Finnegan Biden. Finnegan needs no verification.

So Joe is in hot cabbage water today because former Nevada politician Lucy Flores is claiming that while at a 2014 political event, Joe “kissed the back of her head and touched her shoulders, while also ‘inhaling her hair.’”

Do you hear that, Rosemary DeBranco, wherever you are? He was “inhaling her hair.” Remember how you loved it when I inhaled your hair, Rosemary? It was because you sprayed it with that favorite cologne of yours. “White Shoulders,” it was called. I can hear you whispering now, “Do it again.”

Say, I’ll bet you’re just now clutching your simple strand of pearls as you watch VP Biden steal my iconic move.

A note: In defense of 45, not one of the 23 women who have accused him of sexual misconduct — not one of them, mind you — ever accused him of “inhaling” her hair. So there.

Today, in a fury of righteous indignation, Sen. Bernie Sanders is shocked, shocked do you hear? “I believe Lucy,” he says, using her Christian first name because they’re old friends and, I’m sure, will be working together this summer.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren agrees. “I believe Ms. Flores.” So does Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

Of course they do. Each of the soloists in this great comic opera can see “Uncle” Joe Biden hobbling up the garden path with polls showing greater numbers than theirs, and he hasn’t even announced yet.

I see that the Democrats are eating their amigos again, elbowing their way to the cameras, shouting slogans and waving their arms, while the Republicans stand locked in place, a chorus of gray-suited choir boys singing the same lyrics.

For the record, based on the many television interviews with Flores I’ve seen, I, too, believe her. Indeed, he does appear to be inhaling her hair. Or he may just be slipping into that familiar afternoon nap.

But now, “The times, they are a-changin’,” as Bob Dylan wrote in his 1964 album. Yes, Bob, they certainly are, and in more and more interesting ways.

We huggers and kissers, touchers and inhalers, no matter how innocent we are, are an endangered species, and the future is not our friend. Walk carefully, boys, keep your hands in your pockets, approach every woman with caution, and keep your eyes on the nearest exits, for the times, they are a-changin’.

 

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.

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