RAMONA ON CORONA and…..Bagels and Geniuses

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. 

Do you live in a rural area? If so you may be able to relate. You don’t have to be Jewish to go absolutely crazy hankering for a real New York bagel. They don’t know how to make them outside a 25 mile radius of Manhattan, maybe in Scarsdale or New Rochelle but even there the bagels lack Big Apple gravitas.

K. and I have been craving not only real bagels but all manner of Jewish food since we moved to rural America eleven months ago. When you live here and google “Jewish food” nothing comes up. But I was not deterred. I googled “Jewish deli” and lo and bashert! Up popped Katz’s Deli, only a 34 mile, 41 minute drive.

K. and I hopped in the car for a road trip to Nova Scotia…salmon. If we had planned in advance we would have rented a U-Haul. We pulled up to Katz’s in a nondescript strip mall ie. my dearth of descriptive detail. I waited outside while K., double masked, placed our order inside: pastrami (extra lean), corned beef (lean), whitefish salad, matzo ball soup, chopped liver, fresh cream cheese, blintzes (apple and cheese), a fresh sliced Jewish rye bread, assorted rugelach and real bagels. Are you salivating? And do they have pickles?! Sour, half-sour, garlic, dill, sweet, a pickle lover’s paradise. They even have kasha varnishkes which I don’t eat; the name itself brings on gastrointestinal issues. 

K. and I waited outside in 30 degree weather for about 20 minutes when an aproned, masked, yarmulked man came out and shouted “Ramona?!” I yelled, “That’s me!” and K. ran to retrieve two large brown bags that smelled like heaven. (I peeked inside the store and saw a masked Rabbi behind plexiglass blessing the kasha varnishkes).

We managed to restrain ourselves until we got home. And then…..Words cannot describe the culinary bliss of a mountain of extra lean pastrami on Jewish rye slabbed in deli mustard with a pickle on the side. K. and I ate in respectful silence, with eyes closed, smiling, not speaking, practically davening (swaying back and forth while praying in synagogue). 

We have not eaten in a restaurant in 11 months. We are willing to pay a king’s ransom for Chinese takeout but If we thought there were few Jewish delis here, try finding General Tso’s Chicken!

Hmmm. Could I be missing city life? Not really I don’t think. Not so much. Just maybe the food.

And the shops. And the theater. And the movies with reclining seats, popcorn and real butter. And Lincoln Center. And Soho. And living in the same place as my family! Fork! Fork! Fork! Fork! Fork! (a nod to Kristen Bell in NBC’s The Good Place).

Get a grip, Ramona! You know you’re one of the lucky ones. You, K. and the family are healthy. People 65 and older are starting to get the vaccine. Think of all the families destroyed by Covid. Think of those not able to comfort sick loved ones. Think of the lines of cars with hard working people inching their way to pick up food packages for their families. 

Count your blessings, Ramona.

I do. However right now my laptop isn’t one of them. My forking laptop had a nervous breakdown and my emails are not coming through. I spent 7 hours on the phone today, first with an APPLE genius who told me I needed to talk to a Network Solutions specialist who told me I needed to return to an APPLE genius who told me, etc. etc. And they all ask me questions like “Who is your outgoing server?” when I don’t even know I have one (other than my husband). It is a tennis match and I am the ball. I am not kidding.

Finally I was told to bring my laptop to the nearest APPLE store (41 miles) for a masked in-person appointment with a masked genius. I was given 9:15a.m., the first time slot of the day. A masked APPLE staffer took my temperature and pointed me toward my genius standing behind a plexiglass window outside the store. She looked 12 years old. 

“Hi there. How can I help you? Sorry but we only have 15 minutes because of high volume,” she said. I was afraid she would sneeze or cough or spit through the open bottom of the plexiglass. 

After I explained the problem she told me this particular issue was out of APPLE’s range and to call Network Solutions. BaDaBoom! 

And so it goes. But I shall persevere. 
After all, I cannot live without my laptop! How would I talk to you?