10:30 a.m. I need a hug, a rib-breaking hug that takes the breath away.

Yes, of course, She hugs me, not as much as she used to. And only when I make the first move.

I need a kiss, too, like the one the sailor planted on the girl in Times Square.

If you haven’t seen that iconic shot, then Google it. I want to kiss her like that, but she’s never been fond of pre-breakfast make-outs.

First the hug. It goes like this. I study the way her crazy hair falls over her eyes, push it back with one finger, and run that finger down her nose to her lips. She knows this move. I invented that move. It was my signature move in the late ’50s. Ask Rosemary or Lauren. You have my permission to use it on your She.

J.P. and Kay Devine are seen in a circa 1975 photo. Photo courtesy of J.P. Devine

It’s the same move I made on her 60 years ago on our first kiss in the snow on 53rd and Lexington.

So now she leans back, squints, and asks, “What’s the matter?”

“I need a hug and a kiss.”

“What did you do?”

“I didn’t do anything. I just want a hug and kiss.”

“You broke my porcelain rabbit from Tiffany’s, didn’t you? Tell me you didn’t break my … ”

“I didn’t break anything.”

By now She knows I’m serious. She’s thinking maybe I’m having chest pains, and I’ve only got a couple of minutes left, so I get the hug and one stiff lip kiss. Is this the new normal?

11:30 a.m. Standing in the doorway in full sun, filled with longing for yesterday and dreams, any yesterdays, any dreams will do.

When the Chinese apologize for their lab error, and the Swiss labs announce the discovery of the vaccine, I want to jump in the car and make the rounds.

I want to leave the house, pajama pants and sweats, sneakers and clean socks. I want to run up to Starbucks and hug all the baristas at the newly reopened shop, help put out the iconic green umbrellas and impossibly hard chairs.

Then to the market where I want to push a basket down the wine aisle. Stop in front of a woman, any woman, smile and ask, “Gimme a hug.”

OK. So I’ll be arrested. That’s OK.

On Saturday, when it’s at its peak crowded moment, I need to trot down the aisle at Target and TJ Maxx, bump into old people like myself, kids in T-shirts and torn jeans, all hugging one another, smiling at babies, tossing stuff in their baskets. I want to touch sleeves and smell passing colognes.

I want to stop folks in the parking lot who are smiling and waving at me, because they’re my readers and tell me all the time that I make them laugh.

I need to take their hands and shake each finger, not one of those perfunctory handshakes like you might get from a car salesman, but a Tom Hanks shake like the one he gave everybody in the airport in the 2004 movie, “The Terminal,” full and furious, a tooth-rattling handshake.

I will park on Main Street in downtown Waterville and buy a new fun clock and hug Nancy, the owner at the Paragon Shop.

I long to have a salad outside at the Last Unicorn and watch the millennials wheel their baby carriages by as I sip my luncheon martini.

I want to eat a burrito at Buen Apetito and fries at the Proper Pig while I watch them tear the last of the wrapping paper off of the new boutique Lockwood Hotel.

Tomorrow, I want to have liver and onions at Eric’s up on College Avenue, and Thursday go back and have their pea soup, the best pea soup in America.

I dream of having a big plate of the beer battered shrimp at the Liberal Cup in Hallowell, a bowl of minestrone with breadsticks and a big Arnold Palmer at the Olive Garden.

She, who loves the egg plant lasagna there, always wanted to go midweek to avoid the crowds.

Avoid the crowds? Why would we want to avoid the crowds? We need crowds at this moment more than ever, big crowds.

On my birthday this year — when my doctor finishes his afternoon racquetball game and calls me to tell me to come over and get my second backup anti-COVID-19 vaccine shot — I will find the most crowded place I can, like Trader Joe’s in Portland, or the Friday night bar at Margarita’s in Augusta, where I will share a large martini with my friend Joe. And we’ll sip from the same glass and the worst thing that could happen to us is that we’ll get a cold and a fever blister. Does the COVID-19 vaccination cover fever blisters?

Never mind, just gimme a hug.


J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: