Good morning. Because I write my columns a week or even farther ahead, you possess at this juncture, facts, grotesque or grand, yet unknown to myself.

The world may end or get smarter in that time. It’s hard, I’ve discovered, to type with fingers crossed.

As you read this, we will at last have dispatched to history’s darkest dungeon, one of America’s vilest political miscreants, and set a hopeful figure in the chair behind the Resolute desk in the Oval Office. Wish him luck.

So there is no point in regurgitating the news of the Jan. 6 insurrection at our nation’s capitol. You have, I hope, collected the available facts.

But, as my mother said every day of her life, “You have other fish to fry.”

You may be sitting this morning at your breakfast table, head bowed in prayer, wishing you had a church to kneel in.

It is the tragic nature of our days that as I sit here frozen in time, searching for the right words, that you are holding the hand of a sick friend or member of your family, or burying the dead.

As I write these words, my newspaper tells me that the Maine CDC has reported 617 new cases, 191 people hospitalized with the novel coronavirus, and 41 deaths.

I too have other fish to fry, other fears to deal with.

As I type this, the county of Los Angeles, state of California, reports this bone- and heart-chilling news: “One in 10 citizens here in Los Angeles County have contracted the COVID-19 virus.” One in 10 — that’s 10% of old and new friends.

Five of those citizens are members of my family: my two daughters, Dawn and Jillana, and their husbands, and up north in California, our niece, Ann Joly.

I know that there are others here in central Maine with loved ones there and are hoping that they are safe, and taking extraordinary measures to stay alive and get through their day.

As I write, the television runs over and over, vivid scenes from the grotesque opera of insurrection, with a cast of unmasked white men and women, armed and frothing at the mouth.

There will be more of this in the coming months, maybe years. But there’s a new sheriff in town with an impressive posse. (We can only hope.)

I struggle each week in my role as court jester; a role I’ve practiced my entire life. It comes with no script, and the players and the plot change by the hour. Still, I go on this stage and persist.

Suzanne Pleshette of the “Bob Newhart Show,” now passed to the other side, was a big fan and dear friend of mine, and helped me land a lot of jobs. One was on Bob Newhart’s show.

Suzi once asked Bob, “You know how they always say that if a giant meteor hit the earth and killed everyone, only the roaches would survive? I’m telling you that if Jimmy survived he’d stand in the ashes and try to make the roaches laugh.”

Words like that sustain me.

Sundays have been nearly impossible for me for the past four years, to practice my gift. But there’s a light in the darkness now, and I’ll keep trying.

Remember what Suzi said, so the next time you see a roach, please don’t kill it. I’m gonna need all the laughs I can get when the meteor hits.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 


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