SOCIAL DISTANCING, Chapter 58: In Which I Keep Plugging

By Liz McLeod

Still Your House Manager


“When I advised you to ‘go soak your head,’” declared Miss Carol T. Cat, “I did not intend for you to take my admonition literally.”

“If there’s one thing the world needs less of,” I growled, wringing out my sodden hair, “it’s wise cats.”

“No doubt there is an entertaining explanation for your present condition of saturation,” Miss Carol continued. “I look forward to being amused by it – after, of course, you have seen to more immediate needs.”

I peeled the lid off a can of Friskies Chicken and Tuna In Gravy and fulfilled my duty by splatting it into Miss Carol’s bowl. Then I sunk into a kitchen chair, sent a stack of bills flying with a sharp snap of the back of my hand, and allowed my head to sink to the tablecloth.

“OW!” I bellowed, as a sewing pin left scattered on the tablecloth during a recent project penetrated my eyebrow. I just can’t win.

“No, you cannot,” agreed Miss Carol, sensing my thoughts as is her custom. “But as the poet tells us, 'when the one great scorer comes, to mark against your name, he writes not that you won or lost, but how you played the game.' ”   

I shot Miss Carol a look. “Grantland Rice?” I scoffed. “What happened to Milton?”

“I find him prolix,” replied Miss Carol, with a toss of her whiskers. “But literary criticism aside, I am now prepared to hear your explanation for your present condition. Your sogginess – explain it.”

“I was fixing a leak in the ice bin drain,” I growled, regarding the damp spot I had left behind on the tablecloth. “Stupid ice bin at the soda fountain, I fixed that leak twelve years ago, and now it’s gotta start leakin’ again? I ASK YOU.”

“It would appear,” Miss Carol observed, “that your repair methods were not entirely successful. I recommend that you leave matters of plumbing to qualified professionals.”

“What plumbing?” I erupted. “It’s a plastic tube screwed into the bottom of a metal tub! But the stuff it’s sealed with musta shrunk with age or somethin’. That happens, y’know. Stuff shrinks with age.”

“You yourself, of course,” sniffed Miss Carol, “would present a notable exception to this rule.”

“You should talk,” I snorted back. “You with that danglin’ avoirdupois.”

“My physique is perfectly adapted for the life I lead,” Miss Carol stated, with a prim elevation of her nose. “But, pray, continue with your absorbing anecdote. And, if you will, introduce a clever analogy linking your present condition to the greater crisis that remains at hand.”

I shot her another look, but what was the point? “Yeah,” I continued, “that ice bin is a lot like the pandemic. I tried an’ tried to get the leak to stop, with patchin’ an’ caulkin’, an’ silicone, an’ putty, an’ even that Flex Paste stuff that guy made the boat out of on TV. I wouldn’t recommend tryin’ that, by the way. Unless you wanna get wet. But you know, no matter how much I tried, it kept leakin’ – until every single part of the leak was plugged. It’s the same with the pandemic. You can’t go part-ways. If too many people skip getting their shots, why, that’s just throwing on a little bit of duct tape to stop a leak. You’re not gonna stop that leak at all! A halfway job just won’t cut it.”

“A passable analogy,” concluded Miss Carol. “You have, however, done better.”

“I do better when I’m not wet.” 

“I advise that you take immediate steps to absorb this excessive moisture, then. Note that you have caused the paint on that chair to blister.”

“Ridiculous fat barrel cat.”

“Perhaps,” she nodded. “But dry.”


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