SOCIAL DISTANCING, Chapter 30: In Which Time Marches On

By Liz McLeod
Still Your House Manager
 
“I need to lose four seconds here,” I mumbled to myself, bent over the computer screen at my ad-hoc studio in a corner of the Strand auditorium. It was ten o’clock at night, my eyes felt like BBs rattling around inside one of those fit-the-BBs-in-the-clown’s-face puzzle toys your mother used to give to keep you quiet in the back seat when you were six, and I was just about ready to cash it in for the night – when suddenly, the Facebook Messenger window popped open.
 
I hate windows that pop open. When I’m running the universe, windows that pop open will be shut, latched, and painted over so they can’t ever pop open again. So there. But alas, I am not running the universe, and for as long as I am not, windows will continue to pop open and I will be forced to reckon with them.
 
“THE HOUR FOR MY EVENING MEAL HAS LONG PASSED,” declared a message in big capital letters, as the icon displayed none other than the frowning face of Miss Carol T. Cat. Ordinarily she doesn’t trifle with such nonsense as Facebook, no doubt to Mr. Zuckerberg’s eternal relief, but under trying circumstances she is known to indulge in long and pandemonious rants. I braced for the worst. “REPORT TO YOUR DUTIES AT ONCE, I  SHAN’T ISSUE THIS ORDER AGAIN.”
 
I took a deep breath. “Working on radio show,” I typed. “Got to finish before Friday, on air Sunday. That’s Show Biz.” I thought of adding a LOL and a sticker of Pusheen The Cat wearing headphones, but realized that if I did so I would never enjoy an undisturbed night’s sleep again.
 
Miss Carol and I have been over this repeatedly over the seven months since the Strand shut its doors in the face of the pandemic. Just because we aren’t open doesn’t mean I don’t have a full load of work to do. The “Strand On The Air” broadcasts alone take up a lot more time than she is willing to tolerate – for every hour of airtime, thirty or more hours of production time go into each one, between recording, editing, mixing, re-editing, listening, rewriting, rerecording, remixing, re-editing, listening again, and on and on. You get the idea. A live show is a big piece of cheese by comparison – rehearse a couple of times, check the timing, and hit the air live. And then it’s done unless you want to torture yourself by listening to the aircheck so you can wonder why that gag you sweated over didn’t get as big a laugh as you thought it should have. But Miss Carol is not in the entertainment business. Miss Carol is a cat. Miss Carol has certain expectations, tied to the clock. There is feed-me time, and there is sleep time. When feed-me time arrives, she expects to be fed.  And woe unto me if I am unable to immediately comply.
 
But the first rule of show business is that The Show Must Go On – whether for the Strand On The Air or for anything else we do here. For seven months we’ve been working toward the day when the show will go on again – not just this show or that show, but all the shows we do, all the events that are a part of our regular routine of entertainment, education, enlightenment, and involvement in the community. If that means we have to push harder for donations, or put in extra hours editing sound and trying to cut four seconds out of a program that runs 60:04 instead of ending right on the nose like it’s supposed to, or – alas – causing Miss Carol T. Cat to wait just a bit longer than she likes for her late-evening serving of Friskies Turkey Filets with Giblet Gravy, well, time marches on and so must we. In two months 2020 will finally be over, 2021 will dawn, and all we can do is hope the future Time we’re Marching On into will be something we can all look forward to.
 
I settled back in my chair, figuring I could nip a second or two out of a meaningful pause that could stand to be a little less meaningful, but as I did so the window popped open again. “NEVER MIND,” said Miss Carol. “PULLED CUPBOARD OPEN. HIDDEN BAG OF DRY KIBBLE NOT HIDDEN WELL. WILL DISCUSS MATTER ON YOUR RETURN. DO NOT SWITCH ON LIGHT – THE HOUR FOR MY EVENING NAP HAS ARRIVED.”
 
I typed “Ridiculous Fat Barrell…” but immediately thought better. A Pusheen sticker might be less combative.
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