A baby boomer’s incredible talent for existing

Baby boomer Pamela Jane of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, has written another book: An Incredible Talent for Existing. It’s both social commentary and entertainment. You’ll get the “entertainment” part when you see that this excerpt, which we reprint with Pamela’s permission, is called There’s A Peanut In My Ear.

It was 1971, the height of the women’s movement, and everything that was wrong with our marriage, we saw in political terms.

We aren’t getting along.

Pamela Jane

Translation: Marriage is a repressive institution.

I’m furious with David for criticizing my writing.

Translation: Men are pigs.

All this was a strain on our marriage. I decided to go to Brooklyn to stay with our friends, George and Betsy. There I would get liberated from male patriarchies and sexual stereotypes.

But sleep eluded me in their small apartment. I missed our country house and the sound of the stream flowing through the pines. Panic escalated as I lay awake listening to sirens wail, and wondering what was to become of my marriage and the rest of my life. Desperate for peace, I went looking for something to plug up my ears. All I could find was a jar of dry-roasted peanuts in the kitchen.

This will work, I thought, popping a peanut into my ear. Unexpectedly, the peanut broke in two, and half of it slipped down inside my ear. When I tried to dig it out, it went in even deeper.

I knocked timidly on George and Betsy’s bedroom door.

“George? Betsy?” I whispered. “I’ve got a peanut stuck in my ear.”

“Pamie, it’s two o’clock!” George whispered back groggily. “We’ll talk about it in the morning.”

In the morning the peanut was still there. I could feel it pressing against my eardrum.

George peered in my ear. Are you sure you have a peanut in there?”

“George, leave her alone,” said Betsy.

“But how did it get in there?” asked George.

That was a tricky question. I didn’t want George and Betsy to know that I, a liberated woman, was homesick and frightened, or that I found it hard to sleep in their noisy apartment.

“Well, ah . . . I was eating peanuts and I scratched my ear and I guess part of a peanut must have been stuck to my finger and gone down inside.”

George looked incredulous. Then he looked in my ear. “I can’t see anything. Are you sure you have a peanut in there?”

I nodded, and the three of us headed off to the Brooklyn Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital. I stuck stubbornly to my story all the way there. The more dubious George looked, the more embarrassed I felt, and the more embarrassed I felt, the more fiercely I insisted that the whole thing had been a freak accident born of eating peanuts carelessly at two o’clock in the morning.
In the exam room, the doctor took a skinny metal instrument and dug the peanut out of my ear. George’s mouth fell open.

“Betsy, Betsy, it was practically a whole peanut!” he cried, bursting into the waiting room.

Everyone in the emergency room was staring at us.

“George, let’s go home,” said Betsy.

I went home too. It had been a very liberating trip. I just hoped the Sisterhood, wherever they were, would understand.

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