RAMONA ON CORONA and…Cat in the Hat Culture and Three Dimensional People

A humor series on navigating this difficult time

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.

I used to read Dr. Seuss to my kids without vetting The Cat in the Hat. Sue me. He seemed like a pretty nice cat to me. The truth is two of the six books taken out of publication by Dr. Seuss Enterprises were staples when my daughters were growing up. To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street and If I Ran the Zoo, published in 1937 and 1950 respectively, were recently deemed out of step with 21st Century sensibilities. Next Pepe Le Pew, the Looney Tunes cartoon skunk was caught up in the Me Too culture wars for offensive behavior toward female skunks. And Mr. Potato Head is going gender-neutral in an effort to appease a diverse range of spuds. 

I am always on the side of inclusivity, not hurting peoples’ feelings or demeaning anyone. But have we gone too far? I only ask the question. I’m not sure myself. Political correctness can sometimes fall on its own petard, right? (What is a petard anyway?) 

I am a bit out of sorts, I confess. Maybe you’re feeling betwixt and between too. I had adjusted to pandemic life reasonably well, isolating with K. at home for the last year, zooming with family and friends, ordering take-out, picking up curbside, letting my roots take on a life of their own. I may need a refresher course for post-pandemic life. I feel like an astronaut coming back to earth after a mission in outer space. 

Do I now have to put on makeup? Brush my teeth and shower every day? Change out of my comfy sweats? Keep breath mints on hand? (who needs them with masks?) Not to mention….talk to people? I honestly feel a bit rusty. Don’t get me wrong. I have missed people, especially my family, more than words can express. In fact, K. and I took our first trip to see them last week and it was heaven on earth. 

Haven’t you missed hanging with your kids and grandkids? Doing nothing together, otherwise known as living and breathing in the same room with them? Spending time in a playground sandbox making birthday cakes and finding twigs for the candles? Nothing beats it. And where else do you only have to show up to be greeted like the Pope?! Grandchildren are the reward for making it to grandparenthood, along with the gift of bearing witness to what damn good parents your kids are (in spite of how you tried to mess them up). Miraculous.

We also had our first in-person, unmasked, socially-undistanced dinner-in-a-house with dear friends this week. I saw their faces for the first time in a year with my own eyes. What a good looking couple they are! (They said the same of us.) 

We sat in their den fairly near each other, had drinks and nibbled on cheese and crackers like people did back in 2019. It felt eerily familiar, like riding a bike. I quickly got the hang of making conversation again with people who are not my husband. In fact, the four of us talked for five hours with no awkward pauses. We weren’t even finished when it was time to go and could easily have pulled an all-nighter until our jaws dropped. I had nearly forgotten how much I like three-dimensional people! When we left K., ever the jokester, asked, “Where’s the LEAVE MEETING button?”

Switching gears….Do you remember last year when Andrew Cuomo starred in “Governor Cuomo’s Neighborhood” at the beginning of the pandemic? He was lauded by me and everyone else for his avuncular, empathetic presentations of the risks, challenges and trajectory of the coronavirus. Well, harrrrumph! How times change. 

I won’t brand him with pejorative labels while the jury’s still out but let me just say this. WHY DON’T WOMEN RUN THE WORLD?! I would be curious to know how many female politicians, CEO’s, TV network anchors, movie directors…have been charged with inappropriate behavior, suggestive sexual references and real-time touching of men who work for them?

What is it about women that makes men feel empowered to prey upon them? Do we dress suggestively? Wear too much perfume? Flutter our eyelashes? Wink and nod? Sway when we walk? I’ve seen women like that but only on the TV series Mad Men, about the advertising business in the 1950s. 

I rest my (brief)case.