The Soupster hears about some post-Covid magic.
The words “Oblong Rookery” appeared on the Soupster’s phone, accompanied by a chime.
“Hi, Oblong!” said the Soupster. “It’s really good to hear your voice. How long has it been?”
“Almost a year, Soupster. I think the last time was when you were visiting down here and dragged me to that Korean horror flick on Hollywood Boulevard. I know I grumbled a bunch at the time but looking back I do appreciate it.”
“Are you well, Oblong? How are you doing?”
“Oh, yeah, Soupster, I’m well, and I’m doing okaaay… I’ve been thinking a lot about Joan Didion lately.”
“Yeah, her. She was the one who wrote that book, The Year of Magical Thinking. She wrote it about the death of her husband – who was also a famous writer – from a heart attack, just days after their daughter – Quintana Roo – lapsed into a coma. This all happened – oh, I don’t know – back in the early aughts.”
“Yeah, I kinda remember. What got your mind on Joan Didion?”
“Well – I am just thinking this through out loud – but I believe I’ve been doing a lot of magical thinking myself in the past year. Like, I have been going to call you for months, and then, even though I was obsessing about you, I didn’t call. On some level, I kept thinking, ‘I have to call Soupster and find out how he’s doing. If I don’t call soon, something bad might happen.’
“So, that is why I am really, really glad that you’re okay. And I’m okay. And my cats are okay, and even my plants are okay. All those things get involved in my magical thinking, too.”
“Cats and plants are pretty important, Oblong. Especially now. What’s so magical about how you think of them?”
“Well, Rubber Tree – that’s my black cat (she’s named after that Sinatra song, ‘High Hopes’ – remember, ‘Ooops, there goes another rubber tree plant’) – anyway, Rubber Tree only likes these certain kinds of food. So, I tell myself whenever I find these kinds – just flaked or minced and containing the right kinds of fish – that if I feed them to her, she will be happy, and everything will be all right. Get it? Magical, hmmnnn?”
“What about your actual plants, Oblong?”
“Oh, they’re fine, too, although they do need more water with this heat. Sometimes it’s hard to get myself out to water the outdoor ones, what with the 120-degrees and the smoke from the fires. Fortunately, a lot of my plants are cacti and succulents. I have to be careful with the tomatoes, though. They don’t like to dry out, but they also don’t like wet feet.”
“Sounds like you’re talking anthropomorphism, Oblong – you know, like where you give the non-humans around you human personalities?”
“I might as well, Soupster. I have precious little face-to-face (or even mask-to-mask) interaction with humans these days. I don’t know what I would have done these past months if it weren’t for Rubber Tree and the tomatoes.
“Oblong, that sounds like it could become the title for your own book of magic.”