SOCIAL DISTANCING, Chapter 33: In Which I Try To Think.

By Liz McLeod

Still Your House Manager


“What do you say,” I mumbled out loud, “when you can’t think of anything else to say?”

“Never has this stopped you before,” replied Miss Carol T. Cat, turning to lick her rear haunch in a manner clearly intended to display her irritation at such a nonsensical question. Miss Carol T. Cat is not much for two-bit philosophy. Being a felid, she is an advocate at all times of clear, directly-expressed thought.

“No,” I replied, “but still – what am I supposed to say? I’ve got a column or a blog or whatever you wanna call it due today and I can’t think of anything I want to write about.”

“And again I reiterate,” Miss Carol volleyed back, “ never has this stopped you before. Your formula is all too clear. You state each week’s theme with a tedious complaint, I offer a glitteringly witty rejoinder, and we continue in this fashion for several hundred words, until all possibilities inherent in the topic have been exhausted. You then dismiss me as – ah – ‘ridiculous fat barrel cat,’ and then I respond with a masterful ‘topper’ to conclude the essay. The task before you is simplicity itself -- *if* you know how.”

I hate literary critics. Did I ever mention that? Apropos of nothing, you understand, but I really hate literary critics. Especially ridiculous fat barrel literary critics.

“Yeah, you’re pretty smart, ain’cha?” I replied just to keep the conversation moving. Miss Carol nodded to acknowledge the absolute veracity of my statement. She is, in fact, pretty smart. “But what I mean is – what can I say right now? With things the way they are, I mean. In the world. You know what’s going on in the world right now, don’cha?”

Miss Carol scowled.  “I have this morning observed a garbage truck collecting the barrels from the apartment complex across the block, a procedure I have found unnecessarily loud and invasive. I have witnessed an intriguingly plump grey squirrel busy about the construction of its autumnal cache of forage. Three chickadees and a tufted titmouse have goaded me from the safety of an outdoor tree limb.  And I have viewed three episodes of  ‘Star Trek: Voyager,’ none of them especially good.”

“That’s not what I mean,” I interrupted.

“The episode in which Captain Janeway and Lieutenant Paris were transformed into disturbing amphibian-like creatures was especially offensive,” continued Miss Carol. “That concludes the resume of my activities this morning, an agenda, which, you will note, has been severely constricted by your unreasonable refusal to permit me to adequately patrol this neighborhood.”

“No,” I sighed. “I mean, do you know what’s going on in the world. Everything feels like it’s out of control. The virus is flaring up again, the news is haywire, the Internet has been hijacked by raging lunatics, and I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in over a week. And now I’m supposed to sit here and be funny. Only I feel like I just don’t have anything to say. What *can* you say?”

Miss Carol frowned. 

“I thought of a whole good, funny bit I could do today,” I continued, “while I was sitting in the drive-thru line up at the Clown’s. But by the time I got my Sausage McMuffin, I couldn’t remember a word of it. Is that normal? To be that forgetful, I mean?”

“Considering that yesterday, between the hours of 8 AM and 7:45 PM, you forgot to provide two of my scheduled meals,” Miss Carol growled, “it would seem that your lack of memory has progressed far beyond the nuisance stage and has reached that of a significant personal crisis. I must advise you that further deviations from your appointed schedule cannot be tolerated.”

“And then there’s the next radio show,” I wailed, throwing my head back and staring at the spreading cracks in the ceiling. “I need to have the script finished soon – but how do you do topical gags when you don’t know how anything’s going to come out? And what’s even safe to joke about anymore? You don’t know what it’s like!”

Miss Carol regarded me for a long moment. “The solution to your dilemma is clear. I prescribe extensive bed rest, commencing at once. A midday nap, under a heavy blanket, with a large feline atop your chest, is considered a universal panacea in times of extreme mental and emotional stress." She hopped down from her perch atop my desk, and headed toward the stairs. “I shall meet you in the bedchamber post-haste.”

“Ridic…” I grunted – but then stopped short. She was exactly right.

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