2022: It’s the end of August, the end of summer. It’s Virgo country.

FLASHBACK: She and I, fresh from a stage somewhere, are married in City Hall in St. Louis by a non-Catholic Judge Tammany. Why is she making the sign of the cross?

Aug. 8, 2007: Interior Church. To save her Catholic soul from perdition, we’re remarried in the old church of Sacred Heart, with two now-grown daughters playing the best man and bridesmaid. Everyone makes the sign of the cross. Lunch at Margaritas.

August 2022: A true August story. I always have to say “true,” because She and I, grown older, are still characters in this rom-com with lots of laughter and tears, close ups, new lines and new characters. Our lives together, probably like yours, have played out like a rerun on Netflix.

Try to see Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in these two roles. They’re younger and prettier, and it’ll make it more fun.

CAST AND CREDITS: It’s August 1959. We have just arrived for the first time in the once-upon-a-time small, sleepy town of Waterville. There’s a music store, a soda fountain and lots of churches, people cutting grass, a girl with a lemonade stand. You’ve seen this movie before. It’s Andy Hardy’s movie town of Carvel.


OPENING SHOT: Two very young, decidedly different people, appear under the credits. Remember — Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks. Hold that vision.

She and I had just arrived from a summer music theater job in Worcester, Massachusetts. She still had streaks of the blonde hair called for in that play, and mine was inky black and slicked back with Crisco.

CLOSE-UP SHOT: Aboard bus. She draws a breath and swallows hard and steps off the bus. Did she just make the sign of the cross? I see her embrace Daddy and Mama. Passersby stare.

CLOSE-UP SHOT/WARDROBE NOTE: I am wearing white paint pants, a navy polo shirt, with my sneakers hung around my neck and so I am barefoot.

My new girlfriend’s father keeps peering into the bus to see me. He’s heard about me and fingers a rosary in his pocket. The bus driver, who looks like Ernie Borgnine, touches my arm and smiles.

“C’mon kid, you’re gonna have to get off and meet ‘em, like it or not.”


I do. Her father, a kind, old-school Republican judge, offers his hand. (Imagine Andy Hardy’s father, Lewis Stone, and mother is there, a prim French lady with an accent like Catherine Deneuve.)

J.P. Devine holds his rosary. Photo courtesy of J.P. Devine

PROP NOTE: I am carrying a yellow cockatiel in a lavender cage draped in a scarlet scarf that was dumped on me by an actor who could not take it on a plane. I forget how the rosary goes.

WIDE SHOT: Her mother — a shy New England movie mother with sensible white shoes, sees me — puts two fingers to her lips and steps back at least three steps.

Her name is Lorette. She wants to make the sign of the cross. I just know it.

SCENE 3: The new girlfriend introduces me as if she’s describing … an accident. “The plays we just appeared in — and that’s why we look this way — and about his bare feet, and the cocktail, I mean, cockatiel in the lavender cage, a friend stuck us with … ”

Whew! The bus pulls away.


CUT TO: August 1984. We’ve come home to stay. We buy a house, a car and a sheep dog. I see colors and … is that snow?

NOW: Aug. 31, 2022. I read the paper, watch the news, the numbers, and put two fingers to my lips, close my eyes and make the sign of the cross.

It’s the end of August; the end of summer. It’s Virgo country.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 

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