Yeah, I know it’s Easter. But no one is coloring eggs this year.

Like other fallen Catholics scrambling to get a celestial hall pass, I’ve already had my morning chat with Jesus, who apparently has lost patience with me. I feel that He is beginning to think I’ve become too much work. I agreed to get back to Him by supper.

The salient question this morning is not about dying eggs or munching chocolate bunnies. More importantly, it’s about “wiping,” and which can of beans did I wipe last night?

There are three cans on the “Safe” table, but I don’t recall wiping three cans, only two. I distinctly remember I was wiping them off when my phone buzzed. It was “She #2.” That’s Dawn, my oldest daughter.

J.P. Devine decides on a can of beans. Photo courtesy of J.P. Devine

#2 is a lot like She in many ways, unlike her sister Jillana, the lawyer/Hollywood agent, who is an interesting and disarming blend of all our genes, and who, with great patience, watches over us. She watches me in particular, through a mirror brightly, trying not to frighten me with too much logic.

She #2 has my sense of humor, a volcanic Irish temper, her mother’s sweetness and empathy, of course, but often with a razor’s edge mitigated, like her sister, by a superior education.

Like her mother, #2 has zero tolerance with BS. She is the top “Content Specialist” for Pro-Quest, an international company that sells online programs to colleges from Fargo, North Dakota, up and down California to Hawaii. That requires intense focus. You don’t mess with someone like that. Do I take all of this too seriously?

Let’s just say I stand up when she enters the room.

I bore you with all of this, so that you will understand why I take her seriously.

#2. Since Covid 19, she has switched her business acumen to “matters macabre,” and has been labeled “She Who Must Be Obeyed,” to make sure that her family will be here to vote in November, and have the Oval Office sanitized.

Oh yes, the beans. If I didn’t wipe all three cans, it means there is one can sitting there un-wiped, like a landmine waiting for me to touch it, and then BAM!, I’m a walking COVID-19 case. So which one is it?

Bush Co., you see, offers several types of delicious and enticing varieties of baked beans, like the girls in the chorus line in Stephen Sondheim’s “Follies.” So many beans, so little time.

It’s not like when I was on a diet of baked beans back in New York, when Actors Equity was on strike and edibles were limited; those were Campbell’s Baked Beans, a Depression-era favorite bean in a nice sauce in the red-and-white can that made Andy Warhol rich.

For a baked bean addict like me, Bush and Co. has made life complicated.

Observe. Here sit three of Bush’s variety. “Original” Baked Beans. “Barbecue” and “Bold and Spicy” are overdue. Which one went un-wiped?

The phone rings. Her picture is on the screen. She’s not smiling. My hand trembles. I’m sure it’s about the package she sent.

It arrived this morning, and I was supposed to call her and tell her it had arrived, but I was all messed up with the bean thing.

#2: “Morning, Daddy. Did the package arrive?”

Me: ( I stand up as I talk to her.) “Yes, just now. Four avocados, gorgeous. Can’t wait to have one.”

#2: “So after you opened it, you threw the box into the garage, and then washed your hands again?”

Me: “Absolutely.” (I didn’t.)

#2: “For sure?”

Me: “Would I lie?” Silence. She knows I’m lying.

#2: “You’re doing well, Daddy, I’m proud of you.”

Me: “Thank you.”

#2: “Now, wipe down your phone, and wash your hands again.”

Me: “Yes, dear.”

#2: “Daddy?”

Me: “Yes, dear?”

#2: “You can sit down now.” (She knows I’m standing?)

Me. “Thank you, sweetie.”

An hour later, Jillana phones on Facetime.

Jill: “Daddy?”

Me: “Good morning, honey.”

Jill: “Daddy?”

Me: “Yes, dear.”

Jill: “It’s me, Dabu. You can sit down.”

You know, there’s a strange comfort in following instructions, don’t you think?

 

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 


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