RAMONA ON CORONA and…A Prisoner of Love and Chicken Soup

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.

It’s raining hard outside. I am inside. I have been inside for the last 9 months, mostly. Can you relate? Outside means running errands, masked, quickly dashing into the local supermarket after a masked teenager takes my temperature and gives me permission. My glasses fog up immediately on entering the fresh produce section, putting me in a really foul mood and causing me to use bad language in my head. I shop by feel, palming the bins for avocados, which when found, are annoyingly rock hard and ready for use one week from tonight’s salad.

K. insists I am not a front line worker and sanctions only outings he deems essential, ergo I rarely leave the reservation, ergo I am basically a prisoner of love. My seriously vigilant husband sees a potential death threat to him whenever I venture out, as I constitute one half of his pod. I will shortly send a note in a bottle afloat in the Housatonic River with an all points SOS bulletin and a mug shot of my captor who insists my emancipation will not take place until we are vaccinated.

I spent most of today procrastinating which I am excellent at. On days that are as grey and gloomy as this, it can take me until 11 a.m. to get serious about getting going. Then I ask myself….Where are you going? And what do you have to do? I’ve routinized my semi-redirected (never retired) life around the confines of Covid:

Remain in bed until 9 a.m. because I can
Check email on iPhone while off my feet
Ask Alexa what the weather is while off my feet
Ask Alexa for today’s news while off my feet
Ask Alexa to spoon feed me breakfast while off… (just kidding)

I brush my teeth, shower, deodorize, moisturize, sanitize, dress, make the bed, tidy the bathroom and voila! It’s the beginning of late morning. I go downstairs for my Raisin Bran, followed by my pills (statin, probiotic, acid reflux) and my vitamins (Women’s 50+ Multi, D3 4000 units and a baby Aspirin because everyone I know takes one.) I read/skim today’s paper.

I hope my cell will ring to further prevent me from ‘getting going.’ It does. It’s my friend Ronnie. Woo hoo! We catch up and by the time we hang up it’s nearing the end of late morning. The phone rings again. Again, saved by the bell. It’s our accountant. He has some tax questions and requests, so I call the bank ASAP for the answers he needs.

The bank’s recorded menu of options ends with a request that I please access my 21st century banking options online. I do not. Instead I remain on hold assiduously, tolerating “Up, Up and Away” by the Fifth Dementia — Ha! My error — Dimension, until a woman’s recorded voice lets me know my wait time on hold will be 26 minutes.

She lets me know that if I do not want to wait I can choose to leave a callback number and she assures me someone will call me back. I do not trust this woman. I remain on the line. I put my phone on speaker and make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, rhythmically spreading both on whole wheat bread to the beat of “Up, Up and Away.” I reflexively begin to sway my hips rhythmically as well.

I hear three beeps. I use a four letter word that is not damn or gosh. I have been disconnected. It is lunchtime. I eat the damn pb&j sandwich.

“Is this a day?” I ask myself. “What is the point of trying to engage with people who are at a call center in Mumbai?”

I may as well make chicken soup. (I teach college level Procrastination.) By the way, I was just interrupted by a call from a young woman who said she was from Visa/Mastercard. She, a complete stranger, asked if I would be interested in debt “elimination.” I was tempted to tell her the question was totally inappropriate, more likely to come from a gastroenterologist….and hung up.

Do you see what I’m dealing with here? How can one start one’s day and be massively productive with interruptions like this?

Anyway, where was I? Oh, chicken soup. I google some recipes, view a couple of YouTube videos and lug out pots, chicken breasts, celery, carrots, onion, garlic, chicken broth. I chop the veggies and sauté them in olive oil, cook the chicken breasts in broth, adding 4 cups of water, basically winging it from whatever I’ve gleaned from 2 or 3 chefs on YouTube.

I throw the veggies in with the chicken and simmer for 2 hours. I taste it. It’s lacking something that I assess must be flavor. I add salt. I add fresh ground pepper. I ask K. to go to the store as I do not have the bay leaf that is called for. “Just one?” he asks. “It’s a spice. In a jar. There’s more than one leaf in the jar.” He is thus enlightened, hops on his black stallion and gallops across the moors of rural Connecticut to Stop n’ Shop.

K. returns with 6 jars of McCormick Bay Leaves, honoring his inner-hoarder. He stores 5 of them in our basement in Aisle 3, Spices and Condiments. I add one bay leaf and taste again. Still not that flavorful so I add another. It’s 3pm. One hour until dark. I put the pot of YouTube chicken soup in the fridge.

K. ambles downstairs for a late lunch.

R: Want chicken soup?
K: Sure. How is it?
R: Not that good. But no worries, it won’t make you sick.
K: I bet it’s very good.
R: You’ll lose that bet.

I heat the soup and pour a bowl full for K. He tastes.

K: You’re right, not that good. You win. Maybe more salt.
R: Didn’t the cardiologist say you should stay away from salt?
K: Either that or he said I need more salt. One of those.
R: Men.

It’s 4:30 p.m. Dark out. Nap time.

We’ll have dinner at 6 p.m. Grilled cheese sandwiches and chicken soup.

Lester Holt at 6:30 p.m.. JEOPARDY at 7 p.m. Erin Burnett. Rachel Maddow. Anderson Cooper. Lawrence O’Donnell. Chris Cuomo. Don Lemon…..zzzzzzzzzzz

I’ll get going tomorrow.

Who knows what excitement it may bring?