SOCIAL DISTANCING, Chapter 31: In Which I Do My Civic Duty

By Liz McLeod

Still Your House Manager


“Well,” I declared, “the time has come.”

“Indeed,” agreed Miss Carol T. Cat. “I need not glance at the clock to know that the hour has struck for my mid-morning meal, but I must acknowledge that I am pleasantly surprised to observe your sudden punctuality concerning this matter. Please see to the necessary arrangements at once.” She paused to lick a disarranged spot of fur at the small of her back. “While you do so, I shall perform my customary pre-meal ablutions.”

“What?” I replied. “Look, we been over this before. There is no mid-morning meal. That’s not even a thing. You can’t make it a thing by saying it’s a  thing. Reality is not so malleable as you seem to think it is.”

“My method has worked for others,” she observed. “Consider the nature of the world in which we live.”

“Yeah, well, that’s exactly the point, ain’t it?” I snapped back. “An’ that’s why I say, ‘the time has come.’ The time has come – for me to vote.”

Miss Carol’s eyes widened. “Surely,” she began, “YOU are not permitted the franchise.”

“Whassats’posetamean?” I blurted, taking as much umbrage as I dared.

“Consider yourself,” she insisted. “You are a person of no influence whatsoever upon the body politic. You possess no wealth. You possess no power or authority or influential role in society. You control no resources. You boast no legion of followers. You are a mere menial, a ticket tearer, a popcorn-hustler, an unfurler of threadbare jokes and japes, lost in the vastness in the great scheme of the world’s affairs. Of what possible consequence could YOUR opinion be?”

“That’s exactly the reason I’m GONNA vote,” I declared, squaring my shoulders and envisioning a courageous line of people from every walk of everyday life marching smartly and socially-distant toward the ballot box. Somewhere in the distant background, a fife played “Yankee Doodle.” 

“Preposterous,” sniffed Miss Carol. “Your vote is but one in hundreds of millions. You are a statistical nonentity.”

“An’ once again,” I snapped back, “that’s exactly the point. What is a mass, anyway? A mass is made up of millions and millions of individuals. Maybe me, alone – well, maybe my vote don’t amount to much. But put me alongside millions and millions of others – an’, well, that’s something. You say I don’t have any power? Well,  hah, I say to you. Hah. You’re darn tootin’ I’m gonna vote. And so will millions and millions of other people – because no matter how little any one of us might have, we’ve got a vote, and nobody – but nobody – can take that away from us. And that vote is just as valuable as the vote of anyone else. My vote counts just the same as a billionaire’s vote or a power-broker’s vote, an’ it’s just as sacred. An’ it’s not for sale at any price. Because once I step in that booth, what I do with that ballot is between me an’ my conscience. An’ that’s the same for anybody else. Yeah, I’m gonna vote –an’  I’d like to see anybody try an’ stop me!”

Miss Carol considered my words carefully, and finally nodded. “Very well,” she declared. “You have my permission to…”

“An’ that’s another thing!” I roared. “I don’t NEED your permission, or anybody else’s permission. Didn’t you hear a word I said??”

Miss Carol’s bright green eyes rolled precipitously, and she took a deep breath. “You have my permission to devote as much time as your expedition to the polls might require,” she finished. “My mid-morning meal may wait until you have completed this vital task. I urge you to cast your ballot wisely.”

“Ridiculous fat barrel…” I began, but broke off with amazement upon realizing what she had said. “Thank you,” I replied, taking a deep breath and buttoning my jacket against the autumn chill. “I will do exactly that.”

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