Ramona on Corona… and Midlife

A humor series on navigating this difficult time

Today, 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.

PART I

It’s 1:48 a.m. Can’t sleep. You awake? I wish we could be together, just to talk, even for a half hour. I spit on this pandemic! Actually spit is what they ask you to do into a plastic tube if you take the Covid-19 Home Test. I sent away for two kits, just in case. A live medical staff member witnesses you spitting (virtually via Zoom) after having received a photo I.D., verifying you as the actual ‘spitee.’

Do you know there’s a book about the human need for touch, skin-on-skin? We humans apparently need each other. It’s primal. Human to human contact can even prolong life. I’d google the name of the book only Hurricane Isaias has caused a power outage here and obliterated internet access. Any more good news? Garrrumph!!

Unable to fall back asleep I came downstairs, grabbed my laptop and cozied in on the sofa in the TV room/kitchen. It’s a great room. I mean that in the retro/analog sense, not as in great room, the new architectural darling meant to accommodate the needs of the suffe-refrigerettes who resent being stuck in the kitchen while everyone else is in the den enjoying ACCESS HOLLYWOOD while waiting to be fed. Women with chronic FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) protested and demanded change. Thus, the great room, a combo TV room/kitchen so women can sweat over a hot stove and see the TV.

But I digress. I came down here to talk/type to you because I know you’ll listen/look. And in truth, I didn’t want to disturb K. who is sound asleep. Another truth (and please don’t tell him I shared this) — — his CPAP machine (for sleep apnea, otherwise known as snoring that sounds like an Amtrak train’s going through your bedroom) was blowing like le mistral (the windy season in France which requires all shutters tightly locked or the roof blows off). I slithered out of our Stearns & Foster queen that guarantees ‘a solid foundation for life’ and tiptoed downstairs.

This was just after I vanquished my own demon, a heart monitor. Little old (old but not old old) Ramona has to wear a heart monitor for suspected A-Fib, known in high-falutin circles as arrhythmia. A two-week study was prescribed by my cardiologist. (I can’t even believe I have one on my ‘list of -ists’ which includes but is not limited to: pulmonologist, endocrinologist, rheumatologist, gastroenterologist, -ist, -ist, -ist, etc.)

The heart monitor comes in a box, delivered by UPS with return postage affixed to mail it back to ‘heartquarters’ in Houston, Texas. (heart monitor capital of the world, who knew?) Anyway the thing has stickums and a monitor and it’s own cell phone-type-thing. Once you figure out how to put the contraption on, following the simple directions in the 53 page manual, “the recipient must remain within 10 feet of the accompanying cell phone at all times.” How to calculate that while at the same time socially distancing myself 6 feet from anything that moves? But I tell myself I can do this, a pretty low ask on the suffering scale during a pandemic.

Then the itching began, perhaps an allergic reaction to the gummy adhesive that secured the monitor to my sensitive skin. I ripped the damn thing off, instantly sending the cell phone blinking red, beeping noisy alerts, practically going into cardiac arrest itself! I immediately checked for clean underwear, expecting EMS to break the door down within minutes.

That damn thing will one day cause a heart attack.

Between K.’s CPAP hookup to his monitor and my heart monitor’s electrodes and wires plugged into an outlet, I thought for sure we’d blow a circuit and burn the house down. Not to mention, once attached to our devices we looked ready for the next NASA launch.

Switching gears…..I’m not sure men read RAMONA. Hands, please? But if you’re out there and if you do I have a request. Could you please stop reading now? The rest is FWO (for women only). Yeah, I can do that. I am RAMONA! “I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR, WORDS TOO IMPORTANT TO IGNORE blah blah blah” Helen Reddy, remember? Skeedaddle you all with the Y chromosome. Go have a craft beer with a bro’. Or ENTER THE NEXT PARAGRAPH AT YOUR OWN PERIL.

PART II/ FWO

So……I have several women friends who, through no fault of their own, are alone during this pandemic. I say ‘through no fault of their own’ because they are divorced and in most cases, the fault in ‘no fault divorce’ generally lies with the man.That’s sexist!” you say. “That’s the truth!” I say.

By day, I am a therapist for “women in transition.” Yes writing is my moonlighting job. (as you see only the moon and I are up). Who are “Women in Transition”? They are women separated, separating, divorced, divorcing or in the throes of both. They are generally, but not always:

  • Miserable;
  • Stressed;
  • Anxious;
  • Depressed;
  • Mothers;
  • Wanna-be-mothers;
  • Freaking out about:

1. Finances;

2. Working;

3. Not working;

4. Dating;

5. Not dating.

Many have been married most of their adult lives when Mr. Right decided he was Mr. Wrong. “It’s not you,” he says, “It’s me,” muttering under his breath because even he knows you will take his leave-taking personally. DU-UH.

It’s not that wives have suddenly become unattractive to their husbands or gained weight or spent money on lavish mud massages at Canyon Ranch. It just happens that after so many years together their husbands grew b-o-r-e-d. Things at home became r-o-u-t-i-n-e. Their wives became their m-o-t-h-e-r-s. Or their s-i-s-t-e-r-s. Or worst of all, their f-r-i-e-n-d-s without benefits. Oh my.

When this happens men become r-e-s-t-l-e-s-s and want to break out of the barn and run free, the wind blowing their salt and pepper thinning manes, giving them a feeling of unleashed emancipation. They remove the shackles of matrimony for the ball and chain it has become.

They suddenly ‘pop’ the collars on their Ralph Lauren Polo shirts, which they now purchase in pastels, like peach, tangerine, lemon yellow and lavender (where before only white and navy would do for a ‘real man’). They order their first pair of NMFJs (Not My Father’s Jeans) since high school, jumping from a 34 long to an XXXXL short. A belt? Ha! Fuggedaboudit. He starts wearing docksiders without socks and getting rid of those anomylous grey hairs at the barber’s (“Only your hairdresser knows for sure).

These are the symptoms but not the cause of…… (drumroll)………..

THE MALE MIDLIFE CRISIS.

“Does this afflict (almost wrote Affleck☺) women too?”

Not so much because women are mature and men… not so much.

They have been coddled by their mamas and their grandmama’s and their sisters. They have not grown up enough to know you can’t have everything.

Marriage should be between two grownups. If one of them is a man/child it won’t work. So men should stop fooling around and man up. Tell the wife you’re not that into her anymore and that you’d like to be set free. I’d bet my Gloria Steinem bona fides she’d roll out the red carpet for you right to the front door.

Women: If he’s willing to walk away…..let him! He is not worthy of you. You deserve better. Why not find a nice man? Nothing wrong with nice! Someone who adores you. Believes you’re the gift he’s been waiting for all his life. Nice doesn’t necessarily equate with schlub. He can still be ambitious, smart, fun, kind, a good listener, a tennis pro, honest blah blah blah.

Do not look for a KING. They make the worst husbands. Look for a prince of a man. Someone who does the right thing even when no one’s looking and calls his mother more than once a week.

We watch too many movies! We want the Tom Cruises, the Ben Afflecks, (you go Jen!), the Brad Pitts of the world, the bad boys, when we’d do better to seek out the Tom Hanks, the ….hmmm, I can’t think of one other nice, normal Hollywood star. Oh yes! I’ve got more….the John Lithgows, the Bill Pullmans.

Ladies walk tall! Take care of you! Follow your passions. Delete the words he, his, him from your vocabulary. Travel (after there’s a vaccine) Join a museum. Take a watercolor class. You’ll find Mr. Nice Guy (after the vaccine) somewhere along the way.

Quarantining is not fun. Quarantining alone during a pandemic is less fun. It’s nice to have another human to bear witness to one’s isolation. Though I am not in your shoes now, I have walked in them. There was a time when I was on my own and I will never forget the feeling. So women alone, be brave and know that I see you and admire your perseverance from sunrise to sunset each day.

OMG it’s 3:29 a.m! Back upstairs to bed, that is if le mistral has died down.

One last word: VOTE! (and mail it in, just to piss him off!)

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.