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.
First, I want to thank a follower who emailed that I was funny and hilarious. Very perceptive. Are you available to be president of my fan club, which does not exist but could be formed virtually in a nano second? It has been suggested to me that the RAMONA essays could be compiled into a book. If you agree and would like to volunteer to find a publisher, or better yet, if you know or live with a publisher and can get them to read my stuff, I will dedicate the book to you and thank you first in The Acknowledgements.
Moving on…. You may remember that when my life-long friend Anita passed away last April (not of Covid-19) I arranged a Zoom memorial and galvanized members of our high school class to ‘attend.’ I had known most of them from the age of 9 when I entered fourth grade, the ‘new girl’ in town. My parents had moved our family of five from a cramped apartment to a split-level home in a new ‘suburban development’, landing us squarely on the first rung of the middle class.
The first challenge was finding everyone. I took the path of least resistance by emailing classmate Alison B., an ex-IBM executive and experienced organizer who had single-handedly produced our 50th high school reunion in 2014. I asked for her comprehensive contact list, the result of a year long Sherlock Holmesian search for current email addresses, which she generously forwarded to me. With a click I had before me her Excel Spreadsheet (I had just bought Excelsior 4000 thread count bed sheets at Bed Bath & Beyond. I knew it sounded familiar).
I emailed details about the Zoom memorial to everyone; 22 of 40 classmates RSVP’d positively.
The first to respond was Howie G., who I remembered from grade school. Built like a fireplug he was a boy of few words who later became a star quarterback on the high school football team. He emailed a short reply saying he would be honored to attend Anita’s online memorial. Hours later I received a second email from him that made my jaw drop.
I just wanted to send a message that I have thought about sending you for a long time.
I hope you don’t find this boring but I have always wanted to tell you and, actually, had planned to tell you if I saw you at the 50th reunion but a major fall down a flight of stairs prevented me from attending. (the biggest disappointment of my life).
Anyway, I just wanted to tell you how much you were in my thoughts all of our grammar and high school years but never had the guts to tell you. It started for me on the first day of 6th grade at the new junior high school. During recess Mrs. McLaren sent us outside to see the new playground and ball fields. So, my friend, Teddy Young and I walked toward the ball fields and you were standing at the corner of the building talking with someone and I was mesmerized. I asked Teddy who you were and he said “That’s Ramona. She lives near me and if you want, I can introduce you.” But I was much too shy for that and said no, a decision I always regretted. So that day a crush developed and it never waned but my shyness and interest in sports kept me from taking a chance and asking you out.
Barbara G. was kind enough to send me some pictures from the reunion and you looked fantastic. I hope I haven’t bored you too much but I still kick myself for being so shy and not having the ability to one day say I had the wonderful experience of having gone on a date with you.
I’m very happy your life turned out so well and I wish you only the best for the future.
Take care Ramona. Stay safe and attentive.
Best regards, Howie
An ego boost or what?! I was beyond surprised and profoundly touched. I read the email out loud to K. (who’s only carried a torch for me for 34 years) and told him I was leaving him for Howie. Just kidding. I wrote back the most politic message I could muster:
Hi Howie. Thank you! I’m so flattered. I remember all the girls chasing after you. I am so sorry about your accident and all that you’ve been through. I hope you are well and wish you the very best. I look forward to seeing you on Zoom.
I hoped the ‘xx’ wouldn’t encourage him and thankfully it didn’t. Though Howie showed up for the memorial , he has not logged on for what has become a monthly class reunion on Zoom. I learned from others that Howie had been married and divorced, has two grown daughters and is still in physical therapy from his fall (a shattered knee). I believe his heart is intact.
It totally knocked me out that this man had waited 56 years to tell me his feelings and just as he was about to come face-to-face with me, a freak fall prevented him from doing so. It was absolutely cinematic, no less tragic (well, maybe a little less) than when Deborah Kerr is on her way to rendezvous with her new love, Cary Grant in the movie An Affair to Remember (the 1957 four-tissue tear jerker) when she is suddenly hit by a taxi and left paralyzed, missing their reunion at the top of the Empire State Building.
Maybe Shakespeare said it best in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (the boffo hit from 1605) when Lysander declares to his beloved Hermia, “The course of true love never did run smooth.” But in their case, the obstacle (her dad) was overcome and they married, ostensibly living happily ever after. Howie and me… not remotely lovers and certainly not Shakespearean tragedy, but still, in 2020 a poignant tale.
Why am I sharing this with you? I’m not sure myself. I only know that unrequited love touches me deeply. It reinforces my belief that the human heart is a mystery. Open, vulnerable, fragile, ever striving to fill itself. Paradoxically this source of life can so easily break when at the mercy of another’s heart that beats but not in synchronicity. Luck and life and timing always factor in, deemed invisible angels when things work out and devils when they don’t.
Speaking of devils … Hurricane Isaiasvis finally gone from our shores. How dare it come swirling up the east coast, destroying everything in its path during a pandemic?! How dare it pulverize our power, fell our trees, wipe out wires that serve as our connective tissue? How dare it isolate us even further, creating a bubble within a bubble?
Thank goodness K. was smart enough to invest in a generator last year. I didn’t even know what a generator was. Today I wouldn’t marry a man without a generator. It has literally saved us these last six days. IF YOU DO NOT OWN A GENERATOR, BUY ONE TODAY!!! I cannot say it louder than that on a laptop!!!
I hope you hear me. POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!
The last word: VOTE! (and mail it in to further 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 in Medium.