“Hey,” he belched. “Whatcha gonna do with all that dough your liberal governor is gonna give ya?”

He was at one end of the deli counter at the market, with a whiskey baritone unencumbered by a mask.

As you know, I never speak to anyone in crowded stores, and I define “crowd” as one other person. If I’m approached, as in, “J.P., How ya doin?”

I reply with a few words in Japanese or a couple of words in Latin, then quickly simply float ghostlike past the avocados and onto the beer aisle.

Post-pandemic, I have always refused to speak to anyone in public, as I am always masked, making me sound like a hostage with a tape over my mouth.

“Mufsufloofcomrabble,” like that.

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But the question stuck in my mask. As I checked out with my box of cereal, two avocados, loaf of bread and forked over the 85 bucks, I thought about it. I could use $850.

Gov. Janet Mills and I have known each other for years, we used to meet at Reny’s in Farmington in happier days, so that’s friends. Wouldn’t it be rude to turn my nose up to a friend?

If a good friend came to your house with $850, would you slam the door in her face?

My old Louisiana friend Hasma DePass’s mother would tell you: “Take the money, give em’ some ribs, and let em’ sleep in your sister’s bed.”

I agree.

First of all forget the “I.” There is no “I” in my house. There is only “She,” who handles all in and out cash transactions.

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In school I got As in history and Fs in Math.

I serve at the pleasure of She. In matters of money, all conversations with her on money, end with: “That’s too much.”

Before her conversion, She came from a solid old-time Republican family that voted the straight Republican ticket.

Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses Grant, Rutherford Hayes, those kinds of guys. You hear what I’m saying?

She often reminds me that it’s a Republican tradition to never talk about money at the dinner table. Republicans seem to have mucho traditions.

Democrats, who, in my youth, ate at the kitchen table where the catsup bottle was always in the center, talked about nothing else.

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Well, for many Americans, it’s pretty hard to sit at the dinner table these days and not talk about anything but money, especially if you’re trying to figure out how to pay for the table.

So I asked my bookkeeper, tax expert and co-owner of the house.

“Hey! Are we gonna get that $850?”

“From whom?”

When you’re talking with someone who uses “whom,” you better watch what you say.

“From our friend Janet, whom I admire.”

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“Janet?”

“Janet Mills, the governor.”

“Oh,” she sighed, “that $850.”

She stopped reading and picked up her pencil and pad.

“Let’s see,” she sighed again. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of one of her sighs, just take the dishes to the sink and go watch Jeopardy!

“There’s $600 for March’s oil bill,” She mumbled, “$200 for the excise tax on the car, and $50 for today’s groceries. How much was that your friend is giving us?”

What was that old song again? “Buddy, can you spare $1,000?”

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 


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