Kickass, the doorstop dog, agrees with the keeper’s assessment that the “social distancing” now dictated by the coronavirus is better tolerated by those with rural backgrounds as compared to those who grew up in the cities, which may be as obvious as saying that country kids know better than city kids to never stand behind a coughing cow.
Before the corporations took over milking chores, all the kids on family farms were conditioned to certain isolation from other humans, and so they developed relationships with, not only cows, but all the other creatures, like barn cats and horses, and, in the keeper’s case. a billy goat named Snowball.
The distinction between country kids and city kids has been a lifelong debilitating factor in the keeper’s life, and even as a Chicago Tribune columnist he was never totally free of the suspicion that to others in the big city he might smell like a goat, even on occasional visits to the storied Billy Goat Tavern across from the Trib.
The country-city thing doesn’t really bother the keeper now as he stays home with Phyllis as much as possible to avoid coronavirus exposure. It is fortunate that Phyllis also grew up in country environs: if she had been a “city kid” she might misunderstand the keeper’s reminiscent muttering about having conversations with cows and cats, and Snowball, of course, since there were no people around to talk to.
The keeper generously offers Snowball up to the city “kids” as a coronavirus survival prop: an old goat borrowed from an old goat, you might say.