May 5th. I woke up this morning, opened the front door and stood in the sunlight, looking forward to what I was going to do on this day, this big day, my first day on parole.

Parole? You got a minute? I’ll explain.

April 20: I, and a flock of other masked hopefuls, got the final second shot of Moderna, the magic potion that I’m told will keep us from dying young.

I did inquire about the Russian Sputnik V that I’ve heard is getting good reviews in Argentina, and they called security. Kidding.

That afternoon we were told to take our sore arms home and wait for two weeks. Not one, but TWO WEEKS, and no cheating.

This is not a card game you see, where you can palm another ace, or cheat on your spouse. This is big time serious.

At the end of this time, I’m told, I could sally forth into the streets, the cafes, the smart shops, go to small dance classes, sit at the end of bars and sip a martini, hug strange women in the wine aisle at the market. Well, it’s too late for that for me.

So I bought a sauce pan at TJ Maxx, some plants and new light bulbs at Home Depot, a new birdcage for Ms. Kramer at Walmart, three cases of Stella at Hannaford, went inside Wendy’s for takeout chili, bought new underwear at J.C. Penney and stood inside US Cellular for 10 minutes.

I was told by others who had taken this journey before me that I would also be able to sit outside on the cold, hard, black chairs in front of Starbucks with my friend Joe, who served out his parole a month ago, and eschews his mask on this occasion.

So today on this bright day in May when my Latino friends in Los Angeles are celebrating Cinco de Mayo, I’m beginning my parole.

Parole? Yep. That’s what it is. And just like the guy who gets paroled after a year in state prison, it all comes with a damp pamphlet of rules.

• I still have to observe social distancing of 6 feet, except with Joe, who says 2 feet is OK if you’re sharing a Danish.

• I can “gather or conduct activities outdoors without wearing a mask except in certain crowded settings and venues.”

I take that to mean, no protest marches, funerals, weddings, or bar mitzvahs with families of 15 or more. I can handle that.

So now, at the end of this first day of parole, I sit on my deck surrounded by my first day loot and remembering Peggy Lee’s 1960’s mournful classic.

Is that all there is, is that all there is?
If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing.
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is?

You want fries with that Stella?

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 


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