Flip Side: Thick and thin

When both couples divorced as their boys reached high school, Galia and Ronit were finally free to see each other.

flipside 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
flipside 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Galia and Ronit decide to meet, just like that, in the middle of the day, at the latter's house. It feels frivolous, they agree, to stop everything (in Galia's case, classes at the Hebrew University, and in Ronit's, a break between clients she treats privately in the renovated room downstairs) and get together. For no reason at all. Which, to the two women in question, is all the reason in the world. That once upon a time they had the children as an excuse to do this used to make it seem almost as legitimate as work. Accompanying the kids on play-dates was part and parcel of parenthood, after all. Even if the after-school activity was actually more fun for the mothers than for their sons. Especially where these particular boys were concerned - a fact that became immediately apparent as soon as they were old enough to pursue their own social agendas, which rarely, if ever, included one another. This left Galia and Ronit with no choice but to become evening friends - an endeavor that didn't pan out, due to their husbands' lack of shared interests. When both couples divorced as their boys reached high school, Galia and Ronit were finally free to see each other without the moaning and groaning of the disgruntled males who called the shots, other forces intervened to make meeting more difficult than they had imagined it would be. Single motherhood, they were to discover, doesn't leave much room for leisure. Not when making the beds takes a back seat to making a living. Still, their allegiance - based on an endless string of similar twists and turns in their lives - has remained intact. "Through thick and thin, like our fluctuating waistlines," they quip whenever asked whether they are still what the other mothers at the sandbox might have called "an item," if it didn't have sexual connotations. "MAYBE IT'S hormones," Galia suggests, shrugging. She is out of ideas, she says, as to why she should be so out of sorts these days, when nothing unusual has occurred. Her relationship with her boyfriend is volatile, to be sure. But that's not new. Nor is her occasional panic about pension-planning. "Are you saying you have PMS?" Ronit asks, while brewing herbs she's just picked from potted plants on the kitchen windowsill. "Yeah," Galia snorts, familiar with her friend's refusal to come to grips with reality - not altogether surprising, when one considers that she's an astrologer "by profession." "If the M stands for menopause." "Bite your tongue!" Ronit gasps, laughing uncomfortably, as though Galia has made an outrageously exaggerated claim. Or told a particularly tasteless joke. Galia suspects that being in this kind of denial is responsible for Ronit's overall optimism. If so, she wonders why the condition isn't contagious. "All right," Galia sighs, as though resigned to what is going to come next, yet really hoping for it. "Do you have an alternative explanation?" "Well, for one thing, Mercury was retrograde until a couple of days ago," Ronit asserts, spooning honey into two cups, and stirring slowly, as though contemplating her next sentence. "So?" Galia eggs her on. "If it's over now, will I start feeling better?" "Let's consult with your chart," Ronit announces, much to Galia's relief. She herself would never request such a favor, since it would rob her of her preferred status as a skeptic. Having it handed to her on a silver platter and grudgingly partaking of it is a different story, however. It is at once delicious - as only a narcissistic indulgence can be - and acceptable, by virtue of its being imposed. Like how she secretly views the Katsav rape case. Not that she would dare admit this in public, for fear of being ostracized by fellow females. Though not Ronit, of course, to whom she can say virtually anything with impunity. Which is why she is here today in the first place. Indeed, Ronit is the only one of all her acquaintances who didn't split a gut over her moving into her boyfriend's small apartment just as her son was entering the IDF, thereby forcing him to live with his father. "You're a Leo, after all," Ronit responded at the time. But then, Ronit was having some child-related issues of her own that required compassion, if not understanding, from family and friends. Needless to say, it was not forthcoming. Except from Galia, that is, who was only too happy to be in the same boat with Ronit. As always. Yet again. "OH, IT'S Yigal," Ronit starts slightly, before answering her cell phone. "Hi, soldier boy, what's up?" Galia turns her full attention to her friend's tone, as mothers do, to determine whether to feel envy or pity. Or merely over-identification. "What!?" Ronit yelps, causing Galia to lean closer and wait for information. "An explosion?" Galia's stomach sinks momentarily - the habit of years of intifada - until her rational side takes over. If Yigal's calling, he couldn't be hurt. Or at least not badly. "There's been a training accident," Ronit tells Galia, while still listening to her son's account of events. "An RPG went off near his base... some wounded... ambulances... he'll keep us posted." "Now it's Omri," Galia says, seeing her own son's name on caller ID. "Is everything all right, kiddo?" Ronit looks up and listens in. "He's got the flu," Galia reports. "They've given him a sick leave." Ronit nods. "When are you getting in?" Galia asks, looking at her watch. Unconsciously mimicking her, Ronit does the same. "I've got to pick him up from the central bus station," Galia says to Ronit, while still in mid-conversation with her son. "Just as well," Ronit replies, clearing away the tea cups, and then combing her hair. "My next appointment is due any minute." "There goes my next class," Galia says, though they both know that what she means is that she has missed the opportunity to have her chart read - and problems solved. "The boys are still coming between us, huh?" Ronit remarks, hugging Galia before she exits. "Through thick and thin," Galia retorts - their cue to say in unison, "like our fluctuating waistlines." [email protected]