Ramona on Corona and……Fall-ing and Spinning

A humor series on navigating this difficult time

Katie Couric
Sep 19, 2020 · 5 min read
IG: Chari Pere

Today, for my Wake-Up Call newsletter (subscribe here!), I’m sharing another installment of a humor series from my friend Pam Goldman, centering on a woman named Ramona, who tries to help… in her own way. If you’re new to this series: Here’s the previous installment. Read on.

It’s Fall. Can you believe it? First, happy new year to everyone celebrating Rosh Hashanah. May 5781 be sweet and bring good health, peace, and a new administration. Shanah Tovah.

My brisket is in the oven, schmeared as my mother and her Hungarian forebears prepared it, with crushed garlic, salt, pepper, and paprika. The ‘secret’ ingredient? One package of dry Lipton Onion Soup Mix. My husband K. and I are unable to be with family, but we’re having dear friends over and will serve them at a distance on our deck. If it rains we’ll set up folding tables six feet apart in our two-car garage with the doors open. The rake and weed wacker hanging on the walls will have to pass as ‘art moderne.’ Oy!

I shiver as I step outside and feel the cool burst of air that greets me from toes to the torso. I hug myself for warmth and go back inside to change out of flip flops and grab a fleece zip up. I’m going to town to mail my weekly hand-written letter to my granddaughter, soooo retro I know but to a hi-tech pre-schooler, terribly exciting.

Driving past a caravan of yellow mini-buses I note identical signs on their roofs, “CARRYING SCHOOL CHILDREN.” Windows of masked young students swoosh by. I myself have not matriculated for half a century but I still mark time by the academic school calendar. My fall ‘semester’ is always a time of renewal (new shoes, new underwear). This year I bought a pair of Rothy’s online (Google with your credit card handy) and unmentionables on Victoria’s Secret website. The secret? They sell elasticized 100% cotton items for Nanas and Gagas.

I don’t need any new outfits this year. Who’s going to see me? If I did see anyone they wouldn’t recognize me behind my mask and I wouldn’t be offended because I wouldn’t recognize them either. It’s a win/win. Or a lose/lose. It’s a masked, masked, masked mad world!

Though I’m no longer a student I still observe Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day, MLK Day, Parent/Teacher Conference Day, and winter and spring break. Of course, K. and I won’t be escaping to the Caribbean any time this winter. Why take a chance when we don’t even go into Stop n’ Shop? Instacart has become a religious experience for us.

Winter break will likely take place in our living room this year on a beach towel with a heat lamp. I ordered a Miracle Suit online, made of industrial-strength Spanx fabric. (The miracle? I can get into it.) It won’t be the Hamptons but at least we won’t have to deal with a dude next to us smoking a big cigar or a group of “Lord of the Flies” kids on the next blanket blasting their boomboxes.

Our other option is to spend the winter break in the basement. K. recently ordered a Peleton, the stationary bike for rich people now available for civilians at a discount. The Peleton big wheels must have seen an opportunity with gyms closed and personal trainers unemployed. Bingo! Soul Cycle for the sedentary sheltering at home.

I think a wide range of businesses must be insidiously profiting from this pandemic. Think about it. Tennis and golf are inherently socially distanced sports. So are croquet, badminton, and polo, though the only person I know who plays is Prince William. The market demand for tennis racquets, tennis balls, golf clubs, golf balls and hmmmm….horses and mallets must be high. I myself am thinking of taking up skydiving as a way to get outdoors and avoid crowds.

I admit I’m not psyched about the Peleton because we’ll be spinning in our basement and it’s freezing down there. And it’s not exactly scenic….. a boiler, a hot water heater, the central vac receptacle, and towers of toilet paper hoarded during K.’s early-pandemic panic shops. (He’s nearing the end of a 12-step program.) I’m aware there’s a screen on the Peleton that lets me ‘ascend the Swiss Alps’, ‘cycle ‘round Lake Tahoe’, and ‘triumph at the Tour de France’ but am I not already leading enough of life virtually? Am I destined to be a living, breathing hologram?!

After formal schooling ends, time can seem like a conveyor belt of days unfolding one into another, without any demarcation. My freshman year of real life was a complete shock to my system. Out of the academic loop, no Week-at-a-Glance to glance at, it was only many years later, when I became a parent myself that I regained my footing in school schedules, carpooling, PTA meetings, schlepping kids to sports, ballet, gymnastics, and music lessons. And today, in the blink of an eye I am back in the game, picking up my granddaughter every Tuesday from pre-school. Heaven for Gaga!

We’re living longer. That’s a fact. For most of the time we’ve inhabited earth, humans have lived less than 40 years. Now we are urged to have ‘encore’ careers! No time for retirement. I bucked that trend and retired when I could no longer wear heels and the words ‘water retention’ suddenly had meaning. Swollen feet, swollen ankles, loss of balance. It was a sign. I came down from the heights (5’6”) and landed (5’3”) flats on my feet.

Today on my agenda…Closets and drawers. Switch wardrobe from summer to fall. Bathing suits and cover-ups to the mezzanine. Jeans, and sweatshirts to the front orchestra. Sunblock out. Moisturizer in. Flu shots, doctor visits, teeth cleaning, blah blah blah.

I am counting the days until heavenly Tuesday.

The Last Word: VOTE. We’re getting close to November 3rd. Please make sure you have a plan to vote, either at the polls or by mail. If you have questions about absentee ballots in your state go to usps.com for more information under Election Mail. In many states, the existence of the COVID-19 virus allows you to vote by absentee ballot if you so choose for your own safety.

Pam Goldman is a writer, therapist, wife, mother and (young) grandmother. Her work has been published in The New York Times and VIVA Magazine. She is completing her first book, titled LEFT.

This appeared in Katie Couric’s Wake-Up Call newsletter. Subscribe here.

Katie Couric

Written by

Founder, Katie Couric Media. Newscaster: Wake-Up Call. Podcaster: Next Question. Doc filmmaker. @SU2C founder.

Wake-Up Call

Katie Couric and friends talk career, culture, politics, wellness, love, and money

Katie Couric

Written by

Founder, Katie Couric Media. Newscaster: Wake-Up Call. Podcaster: Next Question. Doc filmmaker. @SU2C founder.

Wake-Up Call

Katie Couric and friends talk career, culture, politics, wellness, love, and money

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