Ramona on Corona… and Content and Miracles

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A humor series on navigating this difficult time

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.

I’m at home like most of you, sitting at the laptop, staring at the empty screen, trying to produce. Aren’t we all expected to produce? Show something for our days, our time, our lives? Or at least we expect that of ourselves. Such pressure!

‘Ramona! Produce content!’ I tell myself as I muse about how August could have arrived at such warp speed. Has Covid-19 really been King going on 6 months?!

It seems the buzz only yesterday was that content was King?

Where did all the demand for content go. With Hollywood ‘out to lunch,’ movie making is on pause, TV series are on ‘hiatus’, streaming services are resorting to reruns. Tons of actors (famous and not, stars and extras) can’t even go to Starbucks for a coffee or to bars to cry in their craft beer. And what about all those eyeballs eager for escape and engagement. Entertain me, educate me, elevate me! Hungry beasts we are, not unlike Audrey II, the insatiable Venus Fly Trap in Little Shop of Horrors who rapaciously eats humans. “Feed me! Feed me! Feed me!,” the importuning mantra encapsulating the zeitgeist of 2020.

My head is spinning with ambiguity. Nothing’s certain during this time, right? Do you wake in the morning feeling your head weighs an extra five pounds? My mind is doing summersault rotations of, “Is this the real world? Yes, Ramona, don’t you get it? Put your two feet on the floor and go with the flow. Start the day.” But I fear my resilience is waning.

I also fear my content is rambling.

Oh! I knew there was something I wanted to tell you! I had a rapid response Covid test yesterday morning! And trust me, the q-tip-on-steroids is not that bad!

I recently complained to my husband K. about a cough I developed over the last few days. No other symptoms, just a little cough. I went straight to Dr. Google’s List of Symptoms for Covid-19. Better get on it, I thought. Kids and grandkids coming for a socially distant visit this weekend. I need to know. Yup. There it was, in between fever and shortness of breath. Cough.

Every local Covid-19 testing site I called had the same recorded message. “Please be aware results take seven to 14 days as labs have been federally mandated to prioritize hot spot states.” I spent the morning shuttling between phone and laptop sleuthing around for a place doing ‘rapid response tests’ when I came upon Terry’s Urgent Care, not exactly a brand name like CityMD. Forgive me Terry, but what came to mind was a lemonade-stand-version of CityMD.

I called Terry’s and the recording said I could drive in, find a parking space and wait in my car until a masked, gloved, gowned staff member handed me a registration sheet. After filling it out he would return to pick it up, along with my picture I.D. and insurance card. In return he would give me a number. I did. And he did. Number 19! (portending doom?)

The GGMM (gloved, gowned, masked man) returned to my car window. I removed my mask, rolled the window down. “What is your name and birth date, please?” and before I could say “Isitasbadasitlooksontv?” he swabbed my right nostril and it was over. “You’ll get a call within the hour.” And he moved on.

Of course, K. was with me and he decided to have one too. (The test was free). Driving home my phone rang. “Hi”, said a cheery female voice. “I’m calling from Terry’s Urgent Care to let you know your tests were both negative.”

Woo hoo! I wanted to give this woman many socially distant hugs and kisses. My high lasted three minutes. My cell rang. It was my daughter with the Masters in Public Health. “Mo — om, with rapid response tests there are many false negatives. So those tests only really count if you get a positive result.”

Follow the data or follow the daughter? I am as flummoxed as ever. Well, no harm done (that I’m aware of. Yikes.)

On a lighter note…K. and I had our first socially distanced ‘dinner party’ last night. (I know I told you last week I’m soooo over dinner parties but people change in a pandemic). This was six people, three pizzas, one patio. I pre-arranged six chairs and three small round tables, three sets of two chairs and a table, all six feet apart.

I made Ina Garten’s gazpacho in the morning (Googleable) and my own guacamole in the afternoon (recipe below). Our daughters sent K. his favorite key lime pie for his birthday in June from Miami’s Joe’s Stone Crab Restaurant. We froze most of it and will serve that for dessert. I home-made whipped cream, beating 2 cups heavy cream and 3 tablespoons sugar in a frenzy to Alicia Keys’ “This Girl is on Fire.”

Our friend Henry was one of our guests. He’ll be 96 in November. We made him pee in the woods. We felt badly; he felt relieved. The great thing about Henry (Hank to us) is that he’s retained a child-like sense of wonder about the world. Nearly every sentence he utters begins “Ja’ ever think about……?” And he’s not interested in the little things, like our puny lives. He’s more attracted to the big things. Like the universe and what’s beyond outer space.

Hank reads a tremendous amount. He’d say, “What else have I got to do?” but really, I believe he reads to satisfy his unquenchable thirst to know. One of his favorite books is The Pleasures of Finding Things Out by Nobel-prize winning physicist Richard Feyman. For his 95th birthday I gave Hank Don Voorhees’ The Book of Totally Useless Information….Over 200 Explanations For the Not So Important Questions in Life. And Hank remembers all the answers.

During these days of shock and awful I find myself thinking a lot about the 1950s. Life was really simpler. More pleasant. Less head-spinning. Going for ice cream was a big deal. Cousins coming over on Sundays to watch Ed Sullivan was routine. Playing dodge ball in the street until dusk was encouraged. Packing valises for vacation was easy (except for the no-wheels part). Family was central to everything. I’m sure people were having affairs but it wasn’t in the papers. People worked things out in private. What happened to privacy? Who took that away? Did we really have to know about a woman named Stormy? Seriously?!

Enuf Ramona. Stop kvetching and ranting and raving. This is supposed to be a humor series.

I can’t help it. Wouldn’t you give your left something to walk unmasked into your favorite mom and pop bakery and just take in the smell? Or to walk into CVS without Purell in your purse to buy your probiotic? Or to take a drive without gloves to see what’s new on the racks at TJMaxx?

Or to have your luscious granddaughter fall asleep on your lap as you read a book together, her warm, sweet breath softly blending with yours?

There’s no measuring how deeply we long for these ordinary miracles. Right?
Can you imagine our world if a man like John Lewis had been President

Here’s my guacamole concoction:

  • 3–4 ripe avocados
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 tomato (beefsteak is good)
  • 1 lemon
  • Tabasco sauce
  • S&P
  • Cut avocados in half. Peel skin and remove pits
  • In a medium size bowl shmush them with a fork to your desired shmushiness
  • Dice in small bits half a medium size onion
  • Dice in small bits half a large tomato or a whole medium tomato
  • Mix everything together with the avocados using a fork
  • Add juice from ¼ of lemon
  • Add how every many drops of Tabasco you can stand
  • Add S&P to your taste
  • Serve with Tostitos Original Restaurant Style Corn Chips (Party Size!)

I’ll end this and every installment until November 3rd with the only word that
counts: VOTE.

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 originally appeared on Medium.