Sometimes I feel like the court jester to Henry VIII, when he was having his wives beheaded; or a comic doing a stand up gig in a Paris nightclub, the night they dusted off the guillotine.

It’s really hard to stand in the light when so many are in the dark, to be funny when so many are crying. But I had early training. I grew up in the Great Depression and World War II when things were really dark.

I watched Bob Hope travel to combat zones to make the troops laugh. The next day, half the laughing kids were dead. He knew that. How do I know? One of his writers told me.

It’s Sunday. We just had 10 inches of snow, and living ain’t easy. Bear with me. You’re not interested in the numbers, I understand.

Could I write a three-page column about the Irish Easter Rising of April 1916? Sure. Would you want to read it? No.

I was a stand-up comic working for laughs, when I had two daughters to feed. I still do it at night in the living room. Call it madness.

I went on stage after taking a call that told me my mother had died.

So now I’m on this stage, this page, this morning. This is what I do. I can’t go outside, so stick with me.

At least the news this week is better. It’s all about the miracle vaccine coming to town. That’s real stuff.

Two shots, a few weeks apart. She doesn’t want it. When I ask her, she doesn’t even look up from her book, but simply shakes her head. I should have known.

She has never in her life bought the “first” of anything. I wasn’t her first date, you know.

Actually, I’m not rushing into it, either. I haven’t even gotten the 2020 flu shot. If my N95 mask, the one Joe Biden wears, protects me from COVID-19, what chance does the flu, a common cold or bad breath have of getting through?

Our two closest friends are really excited about it, even though it may be Labor Day before anything resembling a vaccine comes to Waterville.

So far, there are two super stars on the horizon. Pfizer says it expects about 25 million doses for us by the end of the year. Then there’s Moderna, which says the company is coming with 45 million doses.

New York has been promised an initial batch from Moderna “later this month.” Good luck. I hope it’s not coming from Amazon, who said my designer masks were due a week ago. I’m still waiting.

“A top federal vaccine official” told the Washington Post that other vaccines from other companies may be approved by then.

Imagine a stranger comes up to you at a party with a smile and extended hand.

“Hi, I’m a top federal vaccine official.”


I hold this virtual mic with a heavy heart, and this is my fear. As someone who once made a living in show business, there is no one I trust. As I’ve said before, I know these people. They’re capable of anything of the most glorious lies, and they’re not above saying things like:

“Now, all new COVID vaccine.”

“Now, sugar-, salt- and gluten-free vaccine.”

Cynical? I worked for them.

Here’s the good news for Maine. “The Pfizer vaccine needs to be kept at very low temperatures of around minus 70 degrees Celsius.” In a Maine winter, minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit is called Tuesday.

Here’s what I want for Christmas.

I want the first loads, every vial, every drop of the vaccine to go immediately, instantly (by police escort if necessary) to all the hospitals, to the frontline workers, the doctors, nurses, respiratory crews, to cops and firefighters and to those suffering and dying in the nursing homes.

I am hardened against the tanned and stoned millennials coming in from the beach after a summer of mocking the masked, and stopping off at the hospital on their way home from the mask-free night clubs to claim a shot. I’m against their getting anywhere near the first deliveries.

Give em’ a mask and send them home.

Drop the mic.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 

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