Romona on Corona and… The Debacle and TJ Maxx

A humor series on navigating this difficult time

Ramona on Corona

First, my husband K. and I want to join everyone in hoping for a speedy recovery for President Trump and First Lady, Melania.

I had written this week’s installment and was ready to send it in but then the debacle (notin any way, shape or form a ‘debate’) happened/detonated. I cannot not weigh in. When the train wreck ended Dana Bash of CNN was asked by a colleague what she thought of ‘the last 90 minutes.’ She replied, “I know this is television but hey, it’s cable so I’m just gonna say that was a shit show.”

Dana, I admire your intellect and insights but in this case I actually think you dignified what went on. DT has now given shit shows a bad name. His disrespectful steamroller style, in-your-face rudeness and crimson red face reminded me of a spoiled brat who holds his breath until he gets his way. Unfortunately moderator Chris Wallace took the bait, placating him with “You’re gonna like the next question,” like an intimidated parent afraid to say no to a spoiled child.

I wish Joe Biden hadn’t resorted to “Shut up, man/You’re the worst President we’ve ever had/you’re a clown,” but how else to combat a bully? I’ve seen more civil behavior on WWE’s Friday night wrestling show SmackDown on Fox! I’m just grateful it started at 9pm when most children are asleep.

Glad I got that off my chest.

It’s 12:53 a.m. You up? I cannot sleep and I’m tired of tossing and turning from one side to the other, then onto my stomach, arms outstretched, fingers splayed flat, next turning over onto my back, then switching onto one side, curled in the fetal position, fingers balled into soft fists which I tuck under my chin, as if this will ensure I sleep like a baby as I did during my not-quite-yet life in the womb. Dream on, Ramona.

Aah! Pre-the-world! Those were the days. A womb of my own, rent-free, a safe haven where stress had no meaning because I did not yet exist. Once I arrived stress took no time greeting me. An ob/gyn slapped me, hard. Icried. It was not pleasant, especially when all the humans in the room cheered. And by the way, that room was freezing.

I was ‘swaddled’, (cute-sounding but for me, hell). I let out blood curdling screams as a nurse drew my arms down at my sides and body-wrapped me tight as a mummy in a receiving blanket. It may have worked for Tutankamen but he was being prepped for a thousand year sleepand he was dead!

Where can I go today to find the peace and quiet of the womb? Certainly not on the Peleton my husband K. bought recently. The on-screen trainer actively screams at me as I cycle. I am definitely getting antsy. I’ve been sheltering at home with K. and though he’s an excellent isolation partner, after seven months I fear we’re starting to look alike. Even with his good looks this concerns me. He has a heavy beard and shaves twice a day. We’re both cranky. Occasionally I try to lighten things up at night by putting on my PJs and hopping into bed wearing my blue covid mask. I’m a bit of a trickster! ☺

The truth is we have had several visits with friends outdoors and we’ve seen people, most of them masked, walking on Main Street in town when we run errands, but we all keep our distance.

Sometimes I really need to be alone, get off the reservation by myself. We all need some space, right? Usually I’ll drive to T.J. Maxx, one of my top 3 destinations and find a dressing room to hang out in for an abnormally long time. It’s surprisingly peaceful there, very quiet, especially on weekdays. And there’s a bench to sit on. And unfortunately, a mirror. I say unfortunately because I’m forced to see my masked self and my D.I.Y. haircut.

I bring in a load of clothes to try on. The masked woman who guards the dressing rooms is very precise as she counts the number of hangers weighing heavily on my arm. She gives me a square black plastic chip with the total number of my haul. If I go over the maximum number of items allowed (10) and I bring in say 14 items, how many chips does she hand me and what are the numbers on each of them? She scored 800 on the Math SAT and correctly gives me a 10 and a 4.

The woman is surprisingly laissez-faire on my way out, quickly retrieving the chip(s) and unwanted clothing without a glance or a tally. I surmise, like poker-faced croupiers at Black Jack tables in Vegas, she has no skin in the game and figures she’ll still get the same paycheck whether I shoplift or not. (Of course would never).

When I’m shopping and really into it, I have an out-of-body experience. I honestly nearly lose consciousness. I am that engaged as I cruise the aisles, eyeballing price tags and labels, sleuthing for that designer find among the cheaper brands.If I do find a RALPH LAUREN V-neck or a silk THEORY blouse marked down from $139.99 to $14.99…..I weep. Then I make my purchase with the smug satisfaction of having beat the capitalist system.

Speaking of Ralph…. what chutzpah that man has. What moxie to make himself the poster child for the Hamptons ‘horse set’. Jodhpurs, suede jacket, plaid shirt topped off by a cowboy hat and leather riding boots. But he can’t fool me. I know a Brooklyn native when I see one.

Unlike women, men generally do not have shopping in their DNA. Rather they have, “I’ll be sitting in the chair near the entrance,” because they know we’ll do it for them. Once a year when tire of K. ‘s underwear, socks and threadbare clothes, I schlep him to Bloomingdale’s Mens’ Department like I’m taking my son for his Bar Mitzvah suit.

I’m always grateful when a salesman comes by to help. “Are you looking for anything in particular?” he asks disingenuously, trying to lock in a commission before his fellow “associates” descend on me. “My husband needs a couple of new suits,” I answer as K. wanders the aisles like a lost child.

The salesman whips through the racks, grabbing an ugly plaid jacket in a size 42. He locates K. with my help and approaches him from behind, holding the jacket up in the air. “Let’s try this on. Just for size” he says as K. wriggles his arms into the sleeves and the salesman smoothes and pats down the shoulders. “A 42 it is”, he says. “I’ll be right back.”

K. enters a dressing room fit for a bride, strips down to his underwear and ascends a pedestal in front of a 3-way mirror. The man returns and hangs up 3 identical-looking navy blue pin-striped suits. K. tries them on and we choose 2 of the 3. The delighted salesman says, “I’ll send over Mr. B., our in-house tailor, to shorten the pants.”

Minutes later Mr. B. glides in, wearing a navy pin-striped suit himself, white dress shirt with spread collar, striped silk tie and silk handkerchief cascading perfectly out of his breast pocket. K. is in his briefs. “Well, what can I do for you? I understand you have two suits?”

K. nearly falls off the pedestal as he slips one leg and then the other into the pant legs. Mr. B. is instantly on his knees folding cuffs and marking them with a flat piece of white chalk, then pulling down hard and stiffening them to achieve the correct length. “They must break mid-shoe”, he says.

You may be wondering where I’m going with this. Welcome to the club. I have no idea. It’s 3:27a.m. (2 yawns)

The leaves are beginning to change. There’s that to look forward to. Soon we’ll see great swaths of yellow and copper here and there among the green leaves. The riot of red and orange is coming but not until later in October. Unbelievable that November 3rd will be here before long. And then……And then. November 4th, 5th, 6th and on and on. It’s the ‘on and on’ I’m worried about. I can usually imagine the days following an election but this time it’s literally unimaginable.

President or Autocrat? Democracy or anarchy? Inclusion or exclusion? Bridges or walls? Pence or Harris? Melania or Dr. Jill?

It’s all in our hands. Plan to cast your ballot in person or by mail. If your local mailbox has been removed by someone named Vladimir, call 911 and proceed to Town Hall where you should find a drop box for mail in ballots, if it’s still there.

The last word: VOTE.

This originally appeared on Medium.