Make Like A House Cat

Blinker Novak, an expert in social distancing, offers some tips.

Well, folks.

That escalated quickly.

Last week I was joking about the agony of not touching my face, and then the NBA cancelled its season, setting off a domino chain of cancellations including all professional sports, universities, public schools, workplaces, Disney, and the Apple Store.

Whether you think these measures are too much, too little, or just right, we can all agree we are in uncharted waters.

The mission is clear—slow the spread of the coronavirus so that a surge in cases doesn’t overwhelm the capacity of hospitals and doctors.

Our marching orders are also clear—wash your hands and practice social distancing.

To help us better understand how to practice effective social distancing, I’ve recruited an expert to speak to us today:  My house cat, Blinker. 

(transcript edited for length and clarity)

Me:  How long have you been social distancing?

Blinker:  Since you brought me home in December 2017.

Me:  And what does social distancing mean to you?

Blinker:  Look, you really only need to be emotionally close to one human.  I have you, and that’s enough.  When other people come over, I social distance myself by hiding upstairs until they leave.  It’s really that simple.

Me:  And what about going out?

Blinker:  Out where?

Me:  Outside of the house.

Blinker:  No interest. 

Me:  You don’t leave the house at all?

Blinker: (glares) Except for essential medical visits, which you know very well I could do without.  I go to the woman in the white coat under heavy duress. 

Me:  What about play dates?

Blinker:  Unless it’s with a toy mouse, not interested.

Me:  What advice do you have for those who are new to social distancing?

Blinker:  First off, have some self-respect.  Just because you’re playing on your computer all day—excuse me, “working from home,” that doesn’t give you an excuse to forgo bathing, shaving, and changing out of your pajamas.  I spend a good portion of every day grooming and bathing.  It’s not just your hands you need to be washing right now, humans.

Me:  What else?

Blinker:  Get your exercise.  I know you humans aren’t really supposed to go to your yoga classes and your gyms right now, but I stay slim by spending a few minutes each morning and evening pouncing on little balls, batting around bottle caps, and jumping in and out of cardboard boxes.  And before you make fun of that, I’ve seen some of the contraptions you humans use to exercise.  You’ve got no room to talk.  Do workout videos.  You do a yoga video sometimes, and I jump on your back during downward dog—

Me:  I wish you wouldn’t.

Blinker:  That’s why I do it.

Me:  Should people stockpile food?

Blinker:  No, food is very easy.  What you do is you go and sit by your dinner plate and meow as loud as you can until your human comes and gives you Fancy Feast.

Me:  Any thoughts on toilet paper stockpiling?

[Editor’s note:  Forty-five minute pause before answering.  I thought I had offended her with the question but she was just ignoring me.]

Blinker:  Do your business in the sand and you won’t have to worry about it.

Me:  How should people manage their anxiety during this time?

Blinker:  Stay calm but vigilant.  I enjoy kneading on a human chest to relax me.  If it all gets to be too much, turn off the television, put down your phone and take a nap.  If you’re still feeling anxious, hide under the bed for a little while until you feel stronger.  There’s no shame in it.  And if the coronavirus gets near you, scratch its eyes out.

Me:  You can’t see the virus.

Blinker:  No, you can’t see it.  I see things humans can’t see.

Me:  Final thoughts?

Blinker:  Is it dinner time yet?

Me:  No.  Well, Blinker, I want to thank you for—

[Blinker stalks off.]

[End of interview]

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