SOCIAL DISTANCING, Chapter 8: In Which I Have A Hot Dog.

 
By Liz McLeod
Still Your House Manager
 
“Sighhhhhhhhhh,” I sighed.
 
Miss Carol T. Cat glared at me from the couch, where she lay coiled upon a blanket and twitched her tail in irritation. Miss Carol maintains a positive attitude at all times and does not care for sighs.
 
“Sighhhhhhhh.” I sighed again.
 
Miss Carol continued to glare.
 
“Siii….”
 
“Enough,” she snapped with finality, a voice that to the uninitiated sounds like that public works crew that used to wake you up with jackhammers at 6:30 in the morning. “Exhalations of despair do nothing to remedy difficult situations.”
 
“Easy for you to say,” I grumbled. “You’re not the one who just got laid off one of her writing jobs. That’s a 30 percent whack in the family income, in case you’re keeping track.”
 
“It is of no consequence. Matters will ultimately resolve in our favor.”

“Yeah, well, how ‘bout this,” I countered. “You eat three cans of food a day. What if I told you from now on you get by on two.”

 
Her pupils widened. “You will of course make the necessary adjustments in your personal expenditures to ensure that my normal feeding regimen continues with neither alteration nor interruption.”
 
I slumped back in my chair and picked up the newspaper. And then I sighed again.
 
“You try my patience,” warned Miss Carol. “Your continued distress over trivial matters contributes little to the ‘can-do’ spirit your species will require in order to weather the circumstances of this unpredictable situation.”
 
“Do you know what today is?” I moaned. “This woulda been Opening Day at Fenway Park.”
 
“The hew-mon fixation on spectator sports is an unfortunate squandering of valuable resources,” Miss Carol sneered. “And as you yourself have often exclaimed in recent weeks, the coming season would be as nothing without the hew-mon you designate as ‘Mookie Betts.’ ”
 
“You just don’t get it,” I argued. “Opening Day is special. Opening Day is a celebration of survival! We got thru another winter! Even if it’s still raw an’ cold outside, it won’t be forever. Pretty soon it’ll be warm, I’ll sit in the cheap seats out in right field with the Strand Kids, and I’ll eat a hot dog, and all will be right with the world. But now I don’t even have that to look forward to. Baseball isn’t just a game – it’s symbolic!”
 
“Hmph. Baseball is shambolic. I have viewed the contests via television, and find them far less stimulating than, say, this paper bag on the living room floor.”
 
I pressed on despite her resistance. “You know what summer means to me? Falling asleep at night with the game on the radio. You know how comforting that is?”
 
“A contest so somnolescent that it serves as an active aid to sleep.” Miss Carol shook her head with derision. “That is baseball.”
 
“Yeah, well, you don’t have any trouble sleeping,” I retorted. “I do. I worry about stuff. And right now I’m worrying about a lot of stuff.”
 
“You worry because you fail to take advantage of resources available to you,” said Miss Carol. “If there is no baseball, you have it within your power to create your own baseball experience.”
 
I didn’t know what she was getting at, and she gave me another impatient scowl.
 
“You have recordings of previous contests, and the equipment upon which to view them,” she noted. “You have a reading lamp that may be turned up to successive levels of brightness to simulate midday sunlight. And you have a central heating system with a thermostat which may be adjusted upward to an approximation of summer conditions. All the ingredients necessary to recreate the experience of the baseball season are in your possession now. You need only arrange them. And by careful selection of recorded contests, you may even avoid the disappointment that attends a defeat of your favorite team. I recommend you avoid viewing contests from 1986. I have heard you lament the unfortunate events of that season on multiple occasions, and no good could come from revisiting it at this time. And, to fully recreate the stadium environment, you have a package of frankfurters in the refrigerator.”
 
I thought over what she had to say, and could see her point. The only way any of us are going to get thru this is to seize control of our own environments. If we can’t have our normal activities out in the world, we’ve got to do the best we can to recreate them at home. I headed to the kitchen.
 
“You want a hot dog?” I asked.
 
Her eyes narrowed. “I find them revolting. However, I have become aware that there is a fillet of smoked haddock in the refrigerator as well. If you wish to repay my sound advice, I suggest you prepare it at once, lightly seasoned, in a milk-based sauce. Omit the parsley, I have no need of roughage at this time.”
 
And you know, that’s exactly what I did.
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