SOCIAL DISTANCING, Chapter 25: In Which I Renew My Acquaintance With Popcorn

By Liz McLeod

Still Your House Manager

“What is the meaning of this?” snorted Miss Carol T. Cat as she examined the plastic bag I dropped on the kitchen table. “Are you at last preparing to insulate the attic of this wretched hovel? The job is long overdue. Crisp fall temperatures have arrived, and my summer fur is insufficient to meet its challenge."

“That ain’t insulation,” I snapped back. “It’s popcorn. I made it down at the theatre today.”

Miss Carol squinted and wrinkled her nose in distaste. “You hew-mons are a peculiar species,” she declared, snagging the bag with an extended paw and dragging it to the floor. She batted it about for a bit, distracted by the crinkling of the plastic bag, but soon exhausted the possibilities thus presented.  She glared at me again. “What is the purpose of this substance? It appears to be some manner of steam-extruded grain product. You cannot possibly intend to consume it.”

“It is, and I do,” I declared. “I was making popcorn for the Strand Drive In this week, and had a little bit left over after making the quota for the night, so rather than waste it by throwing it away I brought it home. You’re lookin’ at supper.”

Miss Carol gaped. Until that moment I was unware that felids were capable of gaping – it seems so beneath them to acknowledge the type of astonished shock that generally leads to the deployment of a gape. But gape, nonetheless, she did. 

“This is pure cellulose,” she sneered. “As an obligate carnivore, I must warn you that I find the entire concept offensive. Take it away and bring me shredded poultry at once.”

“It’s MY supper,” I replied. “Not YOUR supper. Money’s tight this week, which you’d know if you’d just shelled out thirteen bills to get your brakes fixed. These are not times in which gustatory luxuries are to be indulged in. In other words, no hamburger tonight. The chicken noodle soup must stay on the shelf. Besides, popcorn is good for you.”

Miss Carol gazed inscrutably, her head cocked like one of those ceramic figurines your grandmother kept on top of her TV set.  “I find this information  doubtful,” she finally declared. “As packing foam, I should think it would be most efficacious. As nutrition? Your thesis is unproven.”

“Look it up on the internet. But for that matter,” I argued, “what’s wrong with eating something just because you like the way it tastes? People don’t base their whole diets on popcorn – unless they just spent thirteen bills getting their brakes fixed, but that’s an exception – they eat it as a treat. And it’s a treat everyone’s been missing lately – I mean, it’s been six months that the Strand has been closed, and all that time, no movie popcorn to munch on? Just that lame microwave stuff or that air-popped stuff that tastes, yeah, like packin’ foam. Real theatre popcorn, baby. That’s what people are missing, and I’m here to tell ya, it tastes just as good as ever when you come see us out at the Strand Drive In at the Owls Head Transportation Museum. Every car gets a complimentary bag, popped with love by me, myself, in the actual Strand popper using techniques perfected thru a decade and a half of careful experimentation in the preparation of exploded-grain treats.”

“Astonishing,” commented Miss Carol. “You turned this entire conversation into a commercial announcement.”

“That’s show-biz, cat.” I chuckled, tossing a few kernels into the air and trying unsuccessfully to catch them in my mouth.

“Hmph,” Miss Carol snorted. “Ridiculous fat barrel hew-mon.”

“HEY!” I shouted, as a kernel bounced off my nose. But Miss Carol had already retreated to that place in the corner of the room where she sits and contemplates the iniquities of fate.

 

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