SOCIAL DISTANCING, Chapter 35: In Which We Are Thankful

By Liz McLeod

Still Your House Manager

 

“You must contact the authorities at once!” declared Miss Carol T. Cat as she thumped into the room displaying an expression of extreme agitation. Actually, that’s just her regular face, but you get the idea.

I was slumped in the big blue chair, listening with one ear to a droning radio newscaster.  My other ear was otherwise occupied being scratched, because it itched. The way my days usually go, that counts as a highlight. In any event, I did not respond immediately to Miss Carol’s expression of alarm, causing her to sink her claws up to the hilt into my shin. That got my attention.

“OW!” I ow-ed. “Whassya problem?” In these days of renewed social isolation, clear diction is always the first thing to suffer.

“Our Thanksgiving turkey has been stolen,” she growled, “no doubt by brigands who have waylaid the delivery vehicle and made off with the poultry. Summon law enforcement immediately – there is no time to waste if we are to enjoy our meal at the appointed hour!”

“No,” I sighed. “Nobody stole it. Ain’t gonna be a turkey this year.”

Miss Carol doesn’t gape very often, and when she does gape, she looks ridiculous. Have you ever seen a cat gape? Other than in a trick You Tube video, I mean? It’s really something. I wanted to laugh, but I didn’t dare to. But gape she did, and I felt forced to continue my statement.

“No turkey this year,” I reiterated. “Because what would be the point? The Dear Young People can’t come over here and eat it with us, and I’m not going down to my mother’s house – the pandemic’s kiboshed everything, so why bother with cooking a whole turkey just for you and me?”

Miss Carol continued to gape. Truth be told, I don’t even like turkey all that much – it’s a passable delivery system for stuffing and gravy so far as I’m concerned, and that’s about it. If I was the one in charge of coming up with holiday traditions, families would gather ‘round the communal table every November to enjoy a big pastrami sandwich, extra juicy.  But Miss Carol, on the other hand – well, as soon as the first leaf falls she starts plotting her schedule. First the skin, then the white meat, then the dark meat, then the thighs, then the drumsticks, then the neck, and last but not least, the Ecclesiastical Authority’s Nose. I don’t know what you call that part in your family, but that’s what we call it in ours. In any event, I’m lucky if I get a cup of cold turkey soup out of the whole project for myself. Miss Carol didn’t get to tip the scales at twenty pounds by devoting her life to kale frappes.

“Look,” I continued. “Who says you even have to have a turkey to have Thanksgiving anyway? That’s reducin’ the whole point of the holiday to conspicuous consumption, which wasn’t what Abraham Lincoln had in mind when he came up with the whole business anyway. I can be thankful with a couple of soda crackers and a glass of water.”

Miss Carol’s eyes narrowed, as if to insinuate that my silhouette displays no evidence that I have ever indulged in such an elemental diet. Touche.

“Don’t get the idea that just because I’m not roasting a turkey I’m not thankful,” I emphasized. “Because I am.  After nine months of this pandemic – hey, we’ve still got a roof over our heads, don’t we? There’s still food in the refrigerator, even if it isn’t a turkey, right? And we chased off the collection agents for another month, didn’t we?”

Miss Carol shook her head. “I *warned* you that you were being unnecessarily profligate to pay hospital prices for that cat scan,” she admonished, “when I, an actual cat, would have been very willing to perform any procedure you might have required at a steep discount. Your financial woes are the inevitable result of your declining my generous offer.”

I ignored her thrust. “Yes,” I insisted, “I *AM* thankful. I’m thankful that the Strand has survived being closed for nine months – and we’ve got our Members and our supporters to thank for that. They’ve made it possible for us to keep going without our regular revenues. We’ve still got programming going even though the building’s closed – and because of the help we’re getting from people who care about the Strand we’re also doing everything we can to make sure that once the pandemic is over we can reopen the place in way that’s safe and sanitary top to bottom! That’s a lot to be thankful about, don’t you think?”

Miss Carol acknowledged my argument. “Indeed,” she declared, “while there has been much to heap obloquy upon the general run of events over the course of the past year, the level of community support shown for the Strand during 2020 will stand out as a positive and heartwarming aspect of 2020.”

“I’m glad you agree,” I nodded. “And I also think YOU have something to be thankful for.” I reached under the chair cushion and pulled out a small metal can. “Canned Thanksgiving dinner,” I proclaimed. “See, read the label. It’s a real product, and I got it just for you. Happy Thanksgiving, you ridiculous fat barrel cat.”

Miss Carol stopped gaping, and an expression not too far afield from a smile creased her features.  And like that other  famous smiling cat, she quickly vanished – into the kitchen, in search of a can opener.

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