SOCIAL DISTANCING, Chapter 43: In Which We Consider The Point

By Liz McLeod

Still Your House Manager

 

“The Pandemic,” declared Miss Carol T. Cat, “while not yet over, is clearly approaching its end.”

“Izzat so?” I replied, not looking up from the newspaper I was trying to read. Miss Carol T. Cat dispensed with that obstacle with one deft swipe of her claws, neatly shredding Dan Shaughnessy’s sports column thru the center and flinging the paper to the floor.  I knew that Miss Carol had plans in mind for the paper, and made a mental note to myself to toss the pages in the wastebasket before she could scatter them in small shredded pieces all over the house.

“To continue,” resumed Miss Carol, “I call your attention to local progress on the vaccination front. The COVID-19 vaccine has commenced distribution in our area, and I presume you have been fully inoculated? Bear in mind that felids have also been demonstrated as being susceptible to the virus, and steps must be taken to ensure that our household remains safe. Please produce your certificate of vaccination for my inspection. I wish to ensure that all precautions have been taken.”

“No,” I responded with a shake of the head. “Not yet. I don’t qualify yet. I’m not old enough.”

“You jest,” scowled Miss Carol. “You are one hundred and eight years of age, are you not?”

“No,” I retorted with some indignation, “that’s just one of the characters I play on the radio show. I’m only fifty-eight. And that means it’s not my time yet to get a shot.”

“Ridiculous,” Miss Carol snapped. “You appear to my examination to be far older than fifty-eight.  The bagging of your eyes, the greying of your hair, the sagging of your…”

“THAT’S ENOUGH,” I erupted. “Nothing a little concealer and hair dye and – other show business artifices – won’t fix. Don’t bug me, you’re no spring chicken anymore yourself.”

At the mention of the word “chicken,” Miss Carol’s bright green eyes glittered with excitement. I shook my head and said “Poor choice of words. Let’s just say you in cat years an’ me in people years are about the same age now an’ let it go at that. Anyway, like I said, it ain’t my turn yet to get the vaccine. When it is, then I will.”

Miss Carol frowned further. “I require a specific timetable,” she declared. “At what time may I be assured that you do not bring contagion into our home?”

I threw up my hands. “Go ask the woodwork,” I sighed. “This is a complicated process, and it has to be done a certain way. Right now, people my mother’s age are getting their shots.”

“Ah yes,” nodded Miss Carol. “The dear old lady who brings me toys and treats, and assures me that I am a good cat and a pretty cat. Ensure, please that she is placed at the front of the line.”

“It doesn’t work that way either,” I continued. “People have to take their turns and go by the rules. That’s the only way to make sure everybody gets taken care of. It’s frustratin’ with all the paperwork and waiting, but all in good time, OK?”

“You will, however, receive the vaccine when the appropriate time arrives?” queried Miss Carol. “You will not collapse in fright at the sight of the injection apparatus?”

“Look who’s talkin’,” I chuckled with as much of a chuckle as I dared to chuck. “Who was it that ripped a big piece out of the vet’s jacket that time?”

“I had no fear of injection,” growled Miss Carol. “The practitioner approached me with a thermometer, in a manner not entirely respectful of my privacy. My response was entirely justified.”

“Well, this’ll be nothing to be afraid of anyway,” I assured her. “I’ve had plenty of shots before, and they don’t scare me a bit. Here,” I said, rolling up my sleeve and displaying a cigarette-burn-like cicatrix on my shoulder. “Ya see that? That’s from a vaccination for the smallpox I got when I was five. I’ll never forget that. It was the law that you couldn’t go to school unless you had the vaccination, and on this one particular day the doctor got set up at the Town Office, and all the kids had to be brought in. And when it was my turn they sat me up on the table and the doctor came at me with this thing that looked like a pickle fork and jabbed it right in my arm there.”

“Are you certain,” scowled Miss Carol, “that you are not one hundred and eight years of age?”

“Every kid had to have this vaccination up until the ‘70s,” I continued. “And then they stopped requirin’ it – and do you know why? Because smallpox was finally eradicated. People did their part and science made the difference. Same thing with polio. I remember they gave me a little sugar cube with some stuff on it, and told me to eat it. And I did. I knew what polio was – I had a relative that had it, and I knew what it did to her. And because of them little sugar cubes, my generation was the first generation that didn’t have to worry about that happenin’ to them. You’re darn right I’m gonna get my shot when I’m supposed to.”

“You are to be commended for your attitude,” declared Miss Carol.

“Y’know,” I ventured, “I think I know somebody else who might be due for some shots. How long’s it been since you went to the vet, anyway?”

I awaited a sarcastic reply, but none came. Miss Carol, in that unique manner of her species, had abruptly vanished from the room.

“Ridiculous fat barrel cat,” I laughed. But quietly, because I knew that in whatever secret dimension it is to which felines retreat at such times, she could hear me, and I didn’t want to have to get a tetanus shot too.

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