SOCIAL DISTANCING, Chapter 2: In Which We Try To Comprehend The New Reality

 
By Liz McLeod
Still Your House Manager
 
What’s the difference between Tuesday and Wednesday? Did you ever think about that?
 
Or the difference between Monday and Tuesday? Or Wednesday and Thursday? Is there actually any difference at all?
 
Or is the whole concept of the calendar just a fiction we create by social agreement to impose form on an otherwise structureless reality?  Really, who even says there has to *be* a Monday, a Tuesday, blah blah blah?
 
This is the kind of thing you think about when you’ve breathed in too much Clorox. Time to take a break.
 
For me, it’s always been easy to tell the days apart. Monday I do the Strand banking and get the weekly report sheets and invoices together to be properly bookkept over in the office. Tuesday we do a matinee show and then I go get a hamburger and come back to do door duty for the evening show.  Wednesday I prep shows for the coming week. Thursday, more show-prep and then I project the nighttime show. Friday, I finish up show prep, do any necessary maintenance, and then run two evening shows. Saturday, I work up the weekly staff schedules, and Sunday, sometimes, I come in to help with tech on special screenings. There’s always something Strandy that needs to be done, I know when it needs to be done, and I do it. So now what?
 
I woke up this morning and the first thing I did was…  No, I lie. I woke up this morning and the first thing I did was sense the fragrant breath of Carol the Fat Cat sitting on my pillow with her nose about six inches from mine.  “Whoa,” I mumbled. “Social distancing.”
 
Her response was to lightly rake her delicate paws across my cheek. With claws extended to about one-eighth of maximum. Just to send a message.  I squinted thru my myopia at the alarm clock on the nightstand, and realized it was somewhere south of 7 am. I sat up. What day is it? “There wasn’t any matinee yesterday,” I said out loud, “and I didn’t do a nighttime show. So it must be….”
 
Carol glared back at me, her green eyes narrowing with frustration.  “None of that,” she snapped, in her distinctive crackly voice. (I translate for you. In her native tongue it was something like “Brrrraaaaaaap.”) “You well know what day it is. It’s the day when you give me Ocean Whitefish With Gravy. And you’re four and a half minutes late.”
 
“Make it ten,” I groaned,” falling back on the pillow. The claws extended to one-half and Carol brandished them menacingly. I sat back up, and threw the blanket aside. “Okay, whatever,” I conceded. “If that’s how it is.”
 
“That’s how it is,” replied Carol, dropping off the foot of the bed with a solid thump. She extended her tail to full mast and led me into the bathroom. I noticed I had about a third of a roll of paper left on the spool.
 
I looked at Carol accusingly. “Don’t even think of it,” I warned, knowing her proclivity for late-night de-spooling. “Stuff’s worth its weight in – well, you just can’t get it, you know?” Carol looked back at me inscrutably. I’d given her another hint as to possible extortion methods, and I felt like kicking myself. But I knew I couldn’t get my leg up high enough this early in the morning, so I dropped the idea and went about my morning ablutions. Carol never thinks much of such hew-mon habits as face washing and teeth-brushing, and she leaves the room in disgust when the shower comes on. “Don’t knock it till ya try it,” I try to explain to her, but she will have none of my suggestions.
 
So I go downstairs, unfurl a can of Friskies into her bowl, and shuffle into my home office to see if I’ve been dreaming for the past week. Not a chance. I look at as much of the news as I can stand and then at the calendar on the wall. What day is this? Wednesday? Thursday? Does it matter?  After brewing and downing a cup of Red Rose in a single gulp – plain, no sugar or cream, steeped for at least fifteen minutes – matters begin to come somewhat into focus. I don’t really *know* what day it is, but I’ll call it Wednesday just for the sake of argument. I’m going to do some maintenance on the projector today. The filters need to be cleaned and the inside needs to be dusted. This is dicey work – any time you have the projector casing opened you risk problems with the xenon bulb, a murderous-looking device prone to exploding with great and violent force if it doesn’t get its way.  I down a second cup of tea just to be prepared.
 
Carol leaps up on my desk and thrusts first her back end and then her front end directly into my face.  I know the body language, and she emphasizes her point vocally. “MORE,” she squawks.
 
“NO more.” I retort. “Cat food’s getting in short supply, you know. You’re going on short rations till this blows over. You could stand to lose some weight anyway, Miss Fat Carol The Barrel.”

She gets her back up at this, and I know what’s coming. “YOU SHOULD TALK,” she sneers. “YOU DON’T LOOK LIKE YOU’VE MISSED TOO MANY DRIVE-THRUS.” We have this conversation every day.
 
As I pull on my coat and head out the door, I look back at her. She’s sitting on the kitchen floor, her back towards me, showing her utter disgust at the shoddy service I provide.
 
My world, the low hew-mon world, may be in a state of utter disruption right now, but for Miss Carol the Cat, it’s still business as usual. She always knows what day it is. In her calendar, it’s always Caturday.
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