The Frump Queen

The Frump Queen

By Ronni Sandroff | Oct. 1968  | Redbook Magazine

Twelve floats, representing the major sororities and fraternities, had passed, overflowing with fresh flowers and white-gloved, smiling girls in evening gowns. The master of ceremonies swallowed audibly and announced that the next float in the home-coming parade was the only independent entry, and was called the “Frump Queen.”

Six boys appeared with red lash marks painted on their bare backs, pulling a convertible covered with thorns and dead tree branches. Zizi was perched on top of the car, dressed in black crepe paper and hip boots, her heavily chalked face marked with black lines, an orange fright wig on her head. She threw dead leaves at the crowd.

After a moment of confusion, the students behind Mrs. Rawdon were convulsed.“For ten cents I’d marry that girl.”

Mrs. Rawdon turned to examine the boy. Sweat shirt, chinos, sneakers, no beard, short hair, respectable… She tossed him a dime. “She’s all yours.”

The boy laughed. “Who is she?”

“My darling daughter. Last summer I made a drastic mistake. I said ‘Zizi isn’t it remarkable that you’ve got through three years of college without being queen of anything?’ As soon as I saw the gleam in her orange eyes, I knew something like this would happen.”

“Orange eyes?” The Frump Queen moved out of sight, and a group of Shriners in midget cars and clown costumes spun in circles down the street.

Mrs. Rawdon sighed. “My daughter has only one redeeming quality to her credit. She can make people laugh.”

“I’d really like to meet her. It must take a lot of courage to pull a stunt like that. In this town, nobody makes fun of home-coming.”

“For anyone else, it would take courage. For Zizi, it’s just a matter of lack of self-control.”

They turned to the next float, on which a valentine of pink and white flowers formed a swing for Miss Perfect Profile. Mrs. Rawdon poked the boy. “Zizi has a better profile than that. But it’s beneath her dignity to enter a con· test. She has to pull some crazy . . . What’s your name?”

“Eric. Eric Wilmot.”

“What’s your major? Don’t mind me -I’m just doing a little market research.”

“I’m between majors. I used to be in economics, but I got bored. I’m thinking of switching to philosophy.”

“Philosophy’s a terrific major,” Mrs. Rawdon said thoughtfully. “There are lots of opportunities in philosophy nowadays. When you graduate, you can join one of the big philosophy corporations, or open a little philosophy shop, or the government . .. Now, the government has a serious philosopher shortage.”

Eric laughed. “You’re very funny.”

“How nice of you to notice.”

“If I’ve passed the test, I’d like to meet your daughter.”

“Well, actually I was in the market for a third-year medical student, but . . . Do you have a girl friend?”

“I’m between fiancees. I tend to fall in love at first sight and out of love on second sight.”

“Between majors, between fiancees. Let me guess. Are you trying to find yourself? Or lose yourself?·’

“No, I’m waiting for something to interrupt my life-a sign, a miracle, a disaster, a blinding flash of light that will transform a nervous college kid into a decisive, ambitious man of the world.”

Mrs. Rawdon smiled. “Come-I’ll introduce you to my disaster.”

They weaved through the parking lot where the floats were disassembling. They spotted the Frump Queen float immediately; it was the only one the children were ignoring.

“Mother! Didn’t you love me? Zizi ran toward them, crepe paper trailing.

“You were gorgeous. You brought honor to your school and family. Zizi, this is Eric Wilmot.”

“You finally took a lover!”

“Eric is between fiancees. I bought him for you for a dime. Good night.”

Zizi walked around him. “Not bad· looking. What are you in-medicine, engineering or law? Wait, mother, I’ll walk you to the bus:·

“In that outfit?·’

The three of them fought through the dispersing crowd. Eric tried to study Zizi’ face in the street lights, but the mask and make up was too thick to see through. At the bus station they squeezed Mrs. Rawdon in between a tuba player and a high school cheerleader and waited until the bus drove off.

“Where did she pick you up?” Zizi demanded.

“She walked through the crowd, asking if anyone would marry her daughter. I said sure.” Eric was aware that everyone in the crowded terminal was staring at her. ”’My scooter’s parked around here. I’ll take you to the dorm to change.”

She grinned through the make up. “I have my own apartment. Special permission from a wonderful mother and a badgered dean:’

As soon as they reached her apartment, Zizi vanished into the bedroom, leaving Eric to wander around the bizarre living room. The flat looked like a circus. Nine-foot posters of circus animals and artists covered the bright green, red and yellow walls. Colored lights revolved on a carrousel-shaped lamp. There was no place to sit except on pillows on the floor. Looking up, Eric discovered a deep blue ceiling studded with plastic stars. He waited, gingerly touching the decorations, until Zizi reappeared, wearing a full length velvet hostess dress, her face free of make-up. She was a little too short, too round, for Eric’s taste, but her face was fashion-model perfect-and lively as well, changing expression with dizzying animation.

“Are you hungry?” she asked.

Eric -followed her into the tiny kitchen, where box tops and canned-soup labels were pasted on the walls. She opened the refrigerator.

“I have cola, frozen Brussels sprouts, peanut butter and one lemon. How about a Brussels sprouts sandwich?’

“Come on-I’ll buy you a pizza.”

“You don-t have to.” She sat next to him at the kitchen table. “I don’t know how my mother drummed you into this. She’s afraid that if I leave college without getting married, I’ll run off to New· York and lead a life of sin and die in the gutter.”

“What do you want to be after you graduate?”‘

“Ecstatically happy.”

Eric was unexpectedly moved.”I hope you make it.”

“Well, I work very hard at it.  And what do you want to be when you grow up?”


She smiled, and Eric was fascinated by the movement of her cheeks from con· cave to convex, her expression from deadly serious to highly amused .. He.. moved

to the phone. “I’ll call for a pIzza:·

Zizi charged back into the bedroom and reappeared almost immediately in a red-and-white·checked dress. “My Italian pizza outfit. I’m majoring in drama, could you tell?”

did notice some kind of costume fixation.’·

“What do you want to be brilliant at?”

“I don’t know yet. I’ll join either the. Peace Corps or IBM.”

“Trying to find yourself, eh?”

“That’s what your mother said:”

Zizi laughed and wriggled in her chair. “I would like to fall in love with you simply because my mother picked you. I complained to her that I knew millions of people but had no boy friend, and she said, ·‘I bet I could find a mate for you in two hours.’ She has the ridiculous idea that I’m great, but no one has the sense to appreciate me.”

Eric tilted back in his chair, trying to appreciate her. She was exhausting to watch. Her body was always in motion she played with a cigarette, tinkled glasses, tapped her foot. But Eric found her relief from the soft-spoken sorority girl.’ who never said anything unexpected.

“I liked what you did tonight:’ he said. “Your float satirized all those little lovelies.”

Zizi shrugged. “Actually I love home-coming. Frump Queen was just a joke. I thought it would add to the parade: ‘

“Oh, it did. I was ready to leave and go back to my homework, but the Frump Queen turned out to be more interesting than Hegel.”

Zizi cut her finger as she sliced a lemon for the colas, screamed in mock horror and wound a huge bandage around the little cut. Eric applauded. “I’m better off stage than on,” she said. “Perhaps you saw my show-stopping performance in the crowd scene of Romeo and ]Juliet.

“I hate the theater,Eric said, bracing himself for her reaction. She opened the door for the pizza man.

“I hate Hegel.” They ate the pizza silently. Eric wondered why he was wasting his time here, then shook off the thought. He was getting too impatient with women lately. If they didn’t immediately strike him as a prospective wife, he wasn’t interested in simply enjoying them.

What do you have against the theater?Zizi demanded after the pizza was finished.

“I just said that to goad you on to new heights of wit.

Zizi nodded dully. People generally do that. I’m a very difficult person to be sincere with. Boy, am I feeling let down now. For three weeks I spent every moment designing that float, and it didnt disrupt the face of the universe after all. No magnificent changes have been wrought in me. I hoped for a miracle.”

Eric shook the ice in his glass, resorting to nervous motion himself now that she was still. I feel that way all the time. I really expect something spectacular to happen to me any moment, something that will change my life, the answer to all my problems. Getting married did that for my brother. As soon as he could take his mind off looking for girls and sex, he was free to solve all the minor problems like what he wanted to be and what he believed in and where he wanted to live.”

“I think all my problems would be solved if I just had a date Saturday night.Zizi sprang up and put the glasses in the sink.

You’d better go now. It‘s one o’clock.”

Don’t tell me the dorm mothers check up here.

It’s a deal with my mother and the dean. I’m on my honor to keep good hours. And my honorshe waved her bandaged finger at him-is almost as important to me as clothes.”

Eric was trying to make up his mind whether to ask her out when she solved the problem at the doorway. Tomorrow’s my birthday. Want to come to my party?

“Sure. How old will you be?” She counted quickly on her fingers. “Twenty years and three months. Dont forget to bring a present.”

Eric spent most of Saturday after· noon trying to find a birthday present for her. It had to be inexpensive–he was broke-and incredibly funny. He finally ended buying a tube of pickup-sticks at the dime store. His image of Zizi reminded him of one he had of his kid sister trying to master pick-up-sticks, frustrated by her clumsy fingers and bitten nails. Did Zizi bite her nails? He couldnt remember. He felt very happy walking back to his apartment, rattling the tube of sticks. After almost four years in the same college town, with the same friends and the same routine of studying, worrying about the draft, working in the library and taking polite young ladies to second-rate movies, he was enjoying Zizi‘s bizarre interruption of his life. He warned himself not to get too excited. Thinking about her was pleasant, but the kindest critic had to notice her instability. She was too turned on, too clever, and then too unexpectedly solemn, to fit into his life.

Eric heard the party as soon as he drove up to Zizi‘s block. The record player, accompanied by live bongos and a guitar, echoed into the street. “Come on init‘s the maid‘s day off,” a male voice called in answer to his tentative knock. Eric stood in the doorway, amazed that nearly thirty students had crowded into the small room. He couldnt find Zizi anywhere amid the dancing couples, so he threw his coat and the present on the bed and found a vacant pillow to sit on. When the dancers stopped, waiting for the next record to drop, he noticed a huge, gaily wrapped carton in the center of the room. A moment after he saw it. the top flew open and Zizi popped out in a short, pink flapper dress with beads down to her ankles. “Welcome to my party!” she cried.

Eric seemed to be the only one surprised. Someone quickly put on a 1920s record and a boy led Zizi into a wild Charleston. The crowd pressed against the walls to make room for their dance. Zizi’s low·cut mini dress seemed about to falloff on the next swing of her leg, and the long beads swung crazily. When the dance was finished her partner was exhausted, but Zizi was not. She bounced around greeting everyone, brushing away the boys who tried to slip the slim dress straps off her shoulders. It suddenly seemed to Eric that everyone was making fun of her. She was so vulnerable in her little dress. One quick, cruel motion ·could strip it off her. He worked his way out of the corner toward her. That was quite an entrance,” he said.

I didnt think you’d come. What‘s a nice guy like you doing in a place like this?” She was smiling, but her smile seemed applied with her make· up. Eric was fascinated by her long, false eyelashes and even, pink fingernails. The music started again. Dance with me;‘ she said. NoI could never keep up.She smiled. Well, then, maybe I’d better slow down.”

She put on a soft, slow dance, and Eric danced with her for a moment, then led her into the bedroom. I bought you a birthday present.He gave her the tube, and she squealed.

“Perfect! How did you know I love them? Stay after everyone leaves and we’ll play.For a while Eric enjoyed watching the spectacle of the wildly dressed, dancing girls and boys, but soon his head hurt from the pulsating lights and music. Zizi stayed away from him, going about the room to refill drinks and wisecrack with her guests. There would be a burst of laughter from every group when she arrived, and, it seemed to Eric, a quieter laughter after she left. The party was at such a high pitch that he felt some act of high drama-violence or humiliation, with Zizi a its victim-had to bring it to a climax. He went quietly to the bedroom to get his coat. He didn’t want to witness the event. And he was sure by now that Zizi was not the interruption in his own life that he longed for.Zizi caught him at the door and dramatically barred the way with her body.

“You’re not leaving!”

“I have a headache. But I had a very nice time … …

She pressed his hands. “I’ll get rid of them.” She snapped off the record player, clapped her hands and cried, ”I’m starving! Let’s have a race to Hank’s Roadside Inn! Everyone into your cars!”

The guests cheered, and the room emptied with amazing speed. When they had all gone, Zizi leaned against the door, laughing. “Well, take off your coat! I’m going to change into my pick-up -ticks playing outfit.”

Eric collected the glasses and empty beer cans while he waited, enjoying the silence. Zizi emerged from the bedroom in a pair of shredding dungarees, a large sweater, and a baseball cap. Eric grinned at her.

“I’m sorry I made you call off your party.”

“I invited you to a party, so I had to produce one. But you didn’t like the party, so poof! Party’s gone.”

She threw the pick-up-sticks on the floor and Eric grabbed her hand. “Where are your pink nails?”

“They were phony. I took them off.”

He laughed. “You bite your nails?”

“Of course. Very tasty.” She licked her lips, and Eric leaned over and kissed her quickly. “Now, listen!” She shook her head. “If we’re going to start that stuff, I’ll have to put on my seduction outfit.”

“If you change your clothes once more, I”m leaving’,” Eric said. ”I’m trying to find out if you’re the girl of my dreams and you keep changing into a million different girls.”

“Of a million different dreams. I’m sure that someday someone will see me in an outfit that bowl him over and fall, instantly in love with me, and I’ll change my whole wardrobe to conform to the right image.”

“I’d like to see you without any clothes on,” Eric said. “Oh, I didn’t mean-or did I?” He laughed, but she was very quiet, studying the pick-up-sticks formation.

“You rattle me. You rattle the very core of my peaceful existence. I’m usually very cool with women-smooth, relaxed, seductive.”

“A regular playboy.” She carefully lifted a stick. “And I could never play these tete-a-tete scenes. I need a huge supporting cast, music, crowds, lights. So you rattle me a bit too, you see.” She tried to remove a stick from the top of the pile and jiggled several others. “Damn! What self-respecting man is going to fall in love with a girl who can’t play pick-up-sticks?” She beat her fist on the floor until Eric caught it.

“Let’s take a quiet walk in the cemetery,” he said. “And don’t put on your shroud!”

“I’ve got to master this pick-up-sticks thing.” “Don’t. Let’s get out of this crazy room.”

“The decor of a home reflects the personality of its owner,” she said, then turned on him suddenly. “You just sit around waiting for some great thing to happen to you. I make them happen.” “I think you work too hard at it,” he said, “or in the wrong ways. But you’re right about me. Why did you ask me to come tonight, anyway?” “You’re cute. My mother liked you. And I’m ridiculously lonely and don’t believe in sitting around waiting for the phone to ring. So you’d better get out right now:’

She brought him his coat and held the door open. “I’m not leaving until I get my chance at pick-up-sticks,” he said, sitting down on the floor.

She tossed his coat beside him and kicked over the sticks. He laughed, pleased with his power to annoy her.

“Stop pacing around like an over· wrought maiden in a melodrama.”

She tapped her foot. “You’re so arrogant. You really get on my nerves!”

He gathered up the scattered sticks, threw them out again and worked carefully and methodically to remove them one by one. Despite herself, Zizi became absorbed in watching him, and shouted triumphantly when he eventually shook the whole pile, and it was her turn.

When they had finished the game, he picked up his coat and went to the door. “For ten cents I’d ask you out,” he said.

She pouted. Tossed her head, turned abruptly and left the room. Eric watched her leave, wondering, then burst into laughter as she appeared again and tossed him a dime. THE END

Cut Your losses, Cover Your Bets

When the man in the yellow jeep ahead of her changed lanes, Zemira was possessed with an urge to pursue him. What could possibly be wrong with giving in to her desire?

By Ronni Sandroff | Oct. 1979 | Cosmopolitan

None of the cars were going anywhere. Zemira Kaufman rested her arms on the steering wheel, breathing lightly, determined to cope. She watched a V of Canadian geese move across the white sky. She noted the beauty of the iron train bridge imposed on the whiteness, and the wind fluttering the webbing of the intricate steel towers that rose above industrial New Jersey. Then she resumed the exercises in Fitness for Commuters, flexing, holding, releasing the muscle groups in her body. The delay doesn’t bother me, she told herself. I’m in no hurry.

A horn honked, and she dropped Fitness to the floor of the car, which was littered with other paperbacks she’d bought in her recent zeal to reorganize, rationalize, and stay in command of her life. Become truly self-centered, and you will always find time for others, the books counseled. Zemira didn’t take their advice too seriously, but as she was reading them, she had to admit they had a point. She shifted into drive and moved up behind the yellow jeep she’d been tailing for two hours. The driver of the jeep peered into his side mirror and saluted her. ‘Zemira waved in return. She liked the back of his neck and his vintage jeep. If the traffic stalled long enough, they’d begin to make friends, set up makeshift kitchens, start a new civilization. Zemira watched the traffic closely now. She clung to the back of the yellow jeep, determined to let no one cut in on their budding relationship.

Look how I’ve cut my anxiety level, she thought. If I’d been caught for two hours on the turnpike last month, I might have had a stroke. I’m doing pretty damn good. The autosuggestion recommended in Surviving Urban Horrors had the recommended effect.

Zemira maintained enough alertness to let her car roll along with the rest, but she didn’t indulge in pointless speculations like: “Why me?” or “Why doesn’t the radio report this tie-up?” or “Where the hell are the police when you need them?” Such questions led only to increase discontent and even malignancy, according to the longitudinal research reported in Avoiding Despair: A Cookbook for the Spiritually Rich, also in paperback, also lying on the floor of Zemira’s car along with her flashlight, sparklers, and tire inflators.They were almost off the concrete overpass when the yellow jeep suddenly moved into the center lane. Certainly, the center lane wasn’t going any faster.Zemira stretched across her front seat, rolled down the window, and shouted:”How can you change lanes at a time like this? I’ve been tailing you for two hours. Doesn’t our relationship mean anything to you?”

The driver of the jeep turned around, smiling uncertainly because he couldn’t hear her in the wind.

“You may drive a jeep,” Zemira shouted, “but you have the heart of an eight-cylinder engine.”

He was two car lengths ahead of her, but he shouted back, “It’s a six cylinder.”

Zemira straightened back behind her ‘steering wheel, happy she’d released her feelings. Suppressed emotion thickens the walls of the arteries and causes premature aging. There was no sense bobbing from lane to lane in pursuit of the yellow jeep, was there? Zemira coasted past a truck that said: “It’s Our Pleasure to Serve You.” Past a sedan in which a man and wife were arguing, thoughtlessly depleting each other’s glycogen stores. In the next car, a young man leaned on his steering wheel, quite pale with exhaustion. Then she passed the yellow jeep. The driver had big shoulders and a self-satisfied look which attracted her.

Why shouldn’t she bob from lane to lane if that’s what she wanted to do? She wanted to be behind the yellow jeep. Why let past inhibitions curtail the flow of new behavior patterns?The traffic inched off the concrete overpass. A marshy valley of grass separated them from the oncoming traffic. There was no oncoming traffic. Not a single car, not a van with a sunset spread-eagle on its side, not a bus marked “special.” Imagine an accident large enough to stop traffic in both directions? Maybe a plane crashed onto the highway near Newark Airport. Maybe a meteor fell from the sky.

Zemira turned on the radio again, but the announcer said the winds were so strong their traffic helicopter had been grounded. He recommended an instant printer whose work was so fine it’d bring instant happiness into her life. Instant happiness, indeed. Zemira knew it took at least a half an hour of concentrated work every day. When friends at work teased her about reading self-improvement books, she retorted that they took their spiritual guidance from commercials.

A car in the left lane drove down the marshy hill that divided the highway. Zemira cheered, and the whole line of drivers stuck their heads out their windows to watch. The car got stuck in the mud at the bottom of the embankment, and the heads retreated into their cars.The yellow jeep was ten cars ahead of her in the center lane now. Zemira decided to go after it. She’d cut her losses, cover her bets, get a new deal. Her lane began to move, and she hugged the car in front of her. She passed the truck that thought it a pleasure to serve her, the man still arguing with his wife. The pale young man leaning over his steering wheel hesitated, leaving Zemira just enough room to spin her right fender into his lane behind the yellow jeep.

Both lanes stopped, leaving Zemira’s car at a diagonal between them, but she didn’t care. The man in the yellow jeep shouted for her to listen to her radio. Zemira turned the dial and heard “radio-active waste . . . gasoline fire . . . exits fifteen to seventeen . . . State police are asking-“The crash was so loud it seemed to come from the sky behind her. She snapped her head around, shocked at the sight of an iron rod pulling back out of her broken rear window and then being slammed into her side window. She slipped down in her seat, pulling herself into a knot under the steering column, covering her head with her arms. She heard the iron rod crash through her front windshield. Glass showered and tinkled over her. The shaft of the steering wheel pressed painfully against her neck, but she didn’t move. Rear, side, front windows shattered. She waited for the window on her side to break, wrapping her arms more tightly around her head, controlling her panic with deep, slow breathing.She’d counted twelve breaths when there was a knock on the still intact side window.

“Lady, are you all right?” Zemira put her hand on the seat to pull herself up. Points of glass stuck into her skin. She opened the lock on the door. The wind rattled the glass on the car seat. Arms grasped her shoulders, and she was pulled out of the car by the man in the yellow jeep.

“Are you all right? “He needed a shave. The skin under his neck sagged a little. But his eyes were kind as pine trees. Trust, let go, need others. Zemira leaned against him.

“Did you get cut? Are you hurt?”

She was not steady on her feet, and the wind was strong. The pale young man was being pinned against a car by two drivers. Crowds of people filled the spaces between the cars. Someone took the iron rod, part of a jack, and placed it out of the reach of the pale young man.

“Come sit in my jeep.”

Zemira nodded, and pieces of glass fell from her hair.

“I was hoping to get to meet you,” she murmured. “My name’s Zemira Kaufman.”

He laughed. “A hell of a way.”

“What happened exactly?” Zemira asked, still leaning against him.

“I’ll be glad to be a witness for you, lady. I saw the whole thing through my mirror. I couldn’t believe it. He must be a maniac.”

He led Zemira to his jeep.”My name’s Topler. Peter Topler of Topler’s Lumber Yard,” he pointed off in the distance as if she might be able to see the lumber yard.

Zemira sat in the upright seat, picking glass out of her scalp, examining the ancient dials. “This is a very old jeep.”World War II model. I painted it, changed the engine. . . . Zemira, I cant figure out if you’re in shock or you’re just taking this very well.”

Zemira laughed. “I thought it was a bomb going off. I thought … this is war… now I’ll see if I’m a survivor. I thought, well, I’m glad I’ve been eating a can of sardines from Sicily for lunch every day. Here, feel my skin, would you believe I used to have dry hands?”

Peter Topler felt her skin. “Did you say sardines?”

“The oil helps the skin and also helps you keep calm in emergencies. I mean this has been quite a day. But I guess the best thing to do is stay loose, cut your losses, cover your-“

“Here he comes,” Peter Topler smiled.”Stay loose.”

The pale young, man, escorted by the man and wife who’d been arguing, came up to the ‘indow on Zemira’s side. She turned away. “What about the radioactive waste, Peter?”

Peter picked up the transistor radio from the floor of the jeep and turned on the news. The pale young man tapped on Zemira’s window, gesturing for her to roll it down. Zemira held up one finger, mouthing “wait.” Always allow yourself time to rehearse important confrontations. Peter and Zemira listened to the news spot on the accident. The highway was closed until further notice. Cars would be taken off from the rear by the police. Evacuation of local residents was being considered. Five fire departments were bringing the fire under control.

“It hit an oil truck,” Peter said.

“What did?”

“The truck with radioactive waste.”

Zemira cranked down her window. The cold air hit her along with the whine of the pale young man. “Please lady, don’t report the accident. If I have one more accident, they’re going to take my license away. I have to drive to work. I have high-risk insurance. I’ll pay for the damage, whatever it costs, I’ll pay you.”

“That was no accident,” Peter said, “you deliberately smashed all her windows.”

Zemira sighed. “Not all. I kept waiting for him to break the one on my side. It was the longest wait.”

“Yeah, that’s right, I stopped, I realized what I was doing and stopped. I don’t know what got into me. I never did anything like that before. This traffic, I’m late, I’m supposed to meet somebody.. . . “

Zemira asked the woman who’d been arguing with her husband for a piece of paper and told the young man to write down his name and phone number. Peter nudged her. “Get his plate number, his insurance card.”

Zemira shook her head. “Have you ever read People’s Guerilla Tactics for Beating the Insurance Game? That book says your rates go up with every accident, even if-“

“But what if he doesn’t pay you? He could give you a phony address.”

“I’ll pay, I’ll pay, I don’t want any trouble. I’m going to keep my jack in my trunk from now on. I’m never going to leave my house unless I have to.”

More cars were attempting to cross the marshy divide and get off the highway. The pale young man organized some men to push Zemira’s car onto the grass. Zemira and Peter followed them. She opened the car door and shook the glass out of some paperbacks. She gave the pale young man a copy of Dealing with Anger, Terror, and Other Strong Emotions Without Upsetting Your Enzymes. She hesitated a moment and then handed Love In Today’s Demolition Derby to Peter Topler.

“What are you giving them away for?” Peter asked when they were settled back in his jeep.

“Oh, they’re like disposables,” she said, “the advice only lasts a little while.”

Peter tossed the paperback onto the back seat. “Do you know anything about this radioactive waste? I wonder if we’re going to get sick from it. Or sterile. I’ve never had any kids, have you? None of my marriages lasted that long.”

“How many marriages?”


Zemira nodded. “I think if we eat a lot of sardines and vitamin C, we might be able to cut our losses. I’ll have to read up on it.”

“I don’t feel sick, do you? There doesn’t seem to be anything in the air.”

“You must be burned out on marriage by now.” Peter nodded. “All I want to do is have a good time.”

“That’s a healthy attitude, though in my case I think being married would be a good time. Of course, I don’t know from experience.

“The revolving lights of a police car were visible about twenty cars behind them. Peter stepped out of the jeep and came back to report the troopers were directing cars off the highway. The pale young man drove his car down the marshy divide and got stuck on the bottom.

“We could make it across,” Zemira said, “you have four-wheel drive, don’t you?”

“I think we should stay here. You have to tell the police what happened to your car. I’ll be a witness.”

Zemira touched her hair tentatively, searching for more glass. “I’m going to let him go, Peter.”

“But why? That’s not practical. What if he doesn’t pay for it?”

“Then I’ll pay.” You can’t do that. The guy’s a maniac.You have to turn him in.”

“Look, I can understand. He was frustrated. Stuck in traffic for hours, and then I cut in on him.”

“Zemira, a normal person would’ve honked his horn and shouted curses at you, but no normal person leaps out of his car and smashes someone’s windows.You could’ve been cut to pieces.”

“Who’s to say what’s normal? I sat in my car doing deep breathing for two hours. Is that normal? Some people have a lot of trouble dealing with frustration. I’m thirty-two, and I live at home with my mother who’s probably called the Jersey police six times by now. People at work think I’m some kind of a kook.”

Peter put his hand on her shoulder. “Zemira, that guy was really out of it. He broke your windows and then he just stopped cold and put down the jack and stared out into space. You have to report it.”

“Don’t tell me what to do. It’s my accident.”

“I saw it. It’s my accident too!”

They laughed, bumping foreheads. “I only know you ten minutes, Peter, and we’re having our first fight. I think that’s a good sign.”

“All right, do what you want. But what if you wake up tomorrow and read in the paper that the guy murdered his wife and three kids? How’re’ you going to feel? You’ll be responsible.”

“Oh, that’s an illusion. I can’t control other people. I’m only responsible for myself. Look, I’m very practical. I’ll be inconvenienced for a week while my car is being fixed, but if I start in with the police, I’ll be hearing about this for months, maybe years. Promise you won’t say anything.”

Peter leaned back in his seat, whistling. “You’re a new one on me.”

“And think of that poor young man. He’s going to have to wait down in the ditch for a tow truck. He has to meet someone. I feel sorry for anyone with high-risk insurance. If I had him put in jail, how would he get his car out?”

“I married four women. I thought I hit every type.”

Zemira smiled and held her smile. Bringing Relationships to a Head suggested letting the other person have the last word and punctuating head discussions with a smile.

Peter shifted into reverse as a state trooper directed him into a U-turn. “Where to?”

“Well, first I have to call my mother.”

He nodded. “Do you really think sardines are going to work against radioactivity?”

“It’s worth a try, Peter.”

Sexual Harassment: The Inside Story

Sexual Harassment: The Inside Story

By Ronni Sandroff | June 1992 | Working Woman

Sexual HarrassmentThe response was immediate, passionate and overwhelming. Less than a week after the February issue of WORKING WOMAN reached homes and newsstands, thousands of surveys flooded our offices. They came from as far away as Paris and as close as an office building on the next block. Many were accompanied by pages of letters that detailed painful personal experiences. In some workplaces the survey was photocopied and circulated, the results sent back in batches. A man who had been sexually harassed by his female boss wrote that co-workers insisted he fill out the survey. Less than a month after the magazine hit the newsstand, we had received more than 9,000 responses—and they kept coming.      

Clearly, the confrontation between Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas had an impact on how and why readers answered. It also had an effect on the human resources executives of the Fortune 500 (the 1,000 companies that make up the top 500 service and 500 industrial corporations). We sent them a simultaneous survey following up a pioneering report “Sexual Harassment in the Fortune 500,” done by this magazine in 1988. This time their responses were somewhat more critical of their companies’ efforts to stop sexual harassment, but, as before, they concluded that the system generally works. Many WORKING WOMAN readers, on the other hand, insist that filing a complaint still amounts to “career suicide.” What’s more, they are angry enough about the spectacle of the Thomas hearings to vote their minds in a year when it matters.

In this, the first major survey to scrutinize and compare the views of these two groups, several messages came through loud and clear:

Women know what harassment is, either by legal definition (54%) or intuition (30%). Only 15 percent were not sure about the boundaries between harassment and harmless fooling around. The 106 human-resources executives who responded go even further than most readers in toeing the party line, but there’s often a discrepancy between what they say is wrong and how they respond to a real situation.

• The higher a woman is in the corporate hierarchy, the more likely she is to be harassed. More than 60 percent of our readers said they personally have been harassed, and more than a third know a co-worker who has been harassed. However, since only one out of four women reported the harassment and most companies receive fewer than five complaints a month, it’s obvious that the vast majority of women who are harassed don’t feel they can safely report a problem.

Sexual Harrassment• Women are not at fault. Provocative dressing and behavior or oversensitivity to sexual jokes is not the cause of sexual harassment, say three out of four readers and most of the personnel officers. And over half of the human resources executives also say that office romances that go sour are not the source of many complaints.

• It is an issue that matters. Seventy-five percent of readers feel sexual harassment is an issue on a par with salary inequities, inadequate child care and prejudice against promoting women. And more than 90 percent think their companies and the government can-and must-do more to prevent and stop abuse. Only one out of five women believes that most complaints are given justice, but more than 70 percent of the personnel managers think they are.

• Anita Hill changed the picture. Part of the clarity about this issue must be credited to the national teach-in on sexual harassment during the confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas last fall [see box]. Fifty-nine percent of readers believe that Anita Hill was telling the truth (compared with only 38 percent of the corporate executives), and more than half the readers and  third of the personnel managers plan to vote against their senator if he or she voted to confirm Thomas.

Certainly, the hearings provoked discussion in the workplace. While 37 percent of readers said it was treated as a big joke, almost 40 percent said the confrontation brought the issue out in the open and led women to trade war stories about sexual harassment. Here’s what they said.


The old prey on the young, and the powerful on the less powerful. A female subordinate under 34 being harassed by a male over 35 is the most common scenario, according to both readers and human-resources executives. Almost 30 percent of the incidents occur when the women are 18 to 24 years old-a very large number, considering the small size of this age group in the workforce. In 83 percent of the cases, the harasser is in a more powerful position than the harassed. ” [As] the youngest and newest nurse in the department, I was eager to please,” writes a reader in Hawaii who was harassed by her supervising doctor. “At first [his] remarks were mildly flirtatious. Later he began to be more bold. The one time I was ever alone with him, he grabbed me and kissed me. The last straw was when he, I and another nurse were in our lab. He casually asked how old I was and [said], ‘I wouldn’t want to f—you because it would be like f—ing one of my daughters.”‘     

Harassment becomes much more common when women enter some predominantly male workplaces or breach the formerly all-male domain of upper management. “The higher up you climb, the worse the harassment gets,” writes an insurance-company executive from Iowa. “Men feel threatened and choose this behavior to deter our advancement.” Women in managerial and professional positions and earning over $50,000, as well as those working in male-dominated companies, are more likely to experience harassment.     

That’s probably why WORKING WOMAN readers reported higher rates of harassment (60%) than respondents to other surveys, whose rates hover between 25 and 40 percent. Lynn Hecht Schafran of the National Organization for Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund says the WORKING WOMAN figures are “not out of line with what we see in surveys of professional women.”

Recent polls of female chemical engineers, lawyers and executives also found that roughly 6 out of 10 women report harassment. “[I have been] patted, poked and squeezed to death at industry meetings,” writes a marketing executive who worked for a Fortune 500 chemical company. “When I was in sales, I was one of only two females in a division of 22. At regional meetings, the guys always went to strip joints. I [went] back to my room.”       

The incidents that reach the attention of corporate officers are often severe, and the profile today is even worse than the one reported by Fortune 500 executives in 1988. Pressure for dates and/or sexual favors occurred in 50 percent of the cases reported to company executives this year but in only 29 percent of the cases in the 1988 survey. In 1992 over 34 percent of the reported incidents involved touching or cornering, compared with 26 percent in 1988. And most of today’s complaints are valid, according to 68 percent of the executives surveyed-4 percent more than agreed with that statement in 1988.


It’s not flirtatiousness, hormones or sexual desire, say many readers. The desire to bully and humiliate women is behind most harassment, according to one out of two readers. “The harasser wants a victim, not a playmate, and a woman with modest dress, makeup and comportment are just as likely-maybe even more likely-to be harassed,” writes a Washington professor.       

A relative few may be responsible for a hefty percentage of harassment cases. Forty-seven percent of the readers who have been harassed have known “chronic harassers,” men who bully one woman after another at work. “Most [harassers] share a common goal-intimidation,” writes a 29-year-old secretary from Pennsylvania. “If someone is capable of harassing a co-worker or subordinate, they’re also likely to take advantage of people in other ways.” Her insight is confirmed by Freada Klein, who conducts training sessions on the problem for major corporations. “We’ve found that workplaces with high rates of sexual harassment also have high rates of racial harassment, discrimination, and other forms of unfair treatment.”


When asked what they would advise a close friend or relative to do if she were being sexually harassed at work, 79 percent of readers took an assertive stand: “Let the perpetrator know, loud and clear, that if the behavior doesn’t stop, she will turn him in,” one respondent replied. But their advice is often a case of “Do as I say, not as I do.” Among those who themselves have been harassed, only 40 percent told the harasser to stop, and just 26 percent reported the harassment.

Women are not unaware of the contradiction. Though a public-relations director from Houston advises others to fight back, she admits, “I cannot say absolutely that I would file charges, because I need that job! And that fact makes me really angry.”

Trying to ignore the problem was the most common tactic (46%). “A disapproving look or turning away is an almost pitiful strategy for a woman to sympathize.” In fact, a firm “No” can work better than ignoring the problem. One out of three women who protested got the harasser to stop, compared with one out of four who tried to ignore or avoid the harasser.

Dr. Rita R. Newman, a psychiatrist and former president of the American Medical Women’s Association, advises women to document harassment-in dated, written notes or on cassette or videotape even if they don’t intend to report it. If the situation later escalates and you’re forced to take action, you have contemporaneous documentation, which is looked on quite favorably by the law. Even if you never report the incident, Newman says, gaining some control over the situation through documentation can help preserve self-esteem.


Sexual harassment clearly does hurt women, whether or not they go through the often grueling process of filing a complaint. Readers who were harassed reported such ill effects as being fired or forced to quit their jobs (25%), seriously undermined self-confidence (27%), impaired health (12%) and long-term career damage (13%). Only 17 percent reported no ill effects.

Health problems associated with harassment are similar to those that spring from other stressful situations, such as headache, chronic fatigue, nausea, sleep and appetite disturbances and more frequent colds and urinary-tract infections, says Dr. Diane K. Shrier, professor of clinical psychiatry and pediatrics at New Jersey Medical School at Newark. “Often women and their doctors don’t recognize any links between these symptoms and harassment. And yet, when you take a careful history, you’ll see that the symptoms began as harassment occurred and begin to go away once the situation is resolved.”

Emotional turmoil, which usually affects work performance, is also common. “Women may feel that unless they go along with the harasser, they will face the end of their professional lives,” says Newman. “So they feel exploited, cheapened and forced to submit. For some, self-esteem is impaired forever.”

Forced career detours also take their toll on women’s earning power. “I lost or was forced out of my job each time, while my respective harassers are busily laying, tormenting, embarrassing or firing people as we speak,” wrote a former personnel coordinator from Illinois who was harassed on three different jobs over a long career. The harassed may be doubly victimized by being blamed for the results of their harassment. Many readers who complained were told to take a course in “how to deal with difficult people” or given poor marks on their next reviews.


If a woman does decide to fight back and report harassment, what are her chances of getting justice? That depends quite a bit on whom you ask. Those who write company policies are much more bullish about how well they work than those who must use them. Only 21 percent of readers agree that complaints are dealt with justly, and over 60 percent say charges are completely ignored, or offenders are given only token reprimands. Fifty-five percent who have tried reporting harassment found that nothing happened to the harasser. “For 19 years I have been in the Air Force,” writes an information-systems manager. “I have been humiliated by everything from males throwing me up against a wall, running hands up my skirt and grabbing my breasts to sexist jokes and nude pictures plastered over my work station. A year ago a major [showed up at] my house at 10:30 PM. (Fortunately, both of my sons are over six feet.) At work [the major] was always humiliating me by ordering me to straddle the arms of a chair in my skirt and by . rubbing his hands up and down my back and sides. [When I complained], I was threatened to stop pursuing my EOT/EEO complaint, ‘or else.’ I was told that because the major outranked me, his word carried more truth than mine.”      

The executives responsible for hearing complaints believe a just resolution is much more common; over 80 percent say most offenders in their companies are punished justly. But that number is down from the1988 survey; then 90 percent of the executives believed offenders were justly punished.         

“this is the key contradiction in sexual harassment in the 1990s,” says Freada Klein, who analyzed WORKING WOMAN’S 1988 survey. “In every workplace, we’ve surveyed, we find that a majority of employees don’t have faith in corporate channels for complaint.”

Today 81 percent of Fortune 500 companies report having training programs on sexual harassment compared with only 60 percent in the 1988 survey —although only half of WORKING WOMAN readers work for a company with these procedures.

Most Fortune 500 executives believe their own companies are doing a good job in this area. Even if they are, women believe government must help bring about real change. Most think it should ease (78%) and speed up (80%) the complaint-resolution process, increase the 6-10-month (depending on the state) statue of limitations for reporting abuses (60%) and increase penalties for companies (66%).


More and more, the power of the purse will promote change. Interestingly, Fortune 500 executives see their companies as much more legally vulnerable than do readers. The 1991 Civil Rights Act gives harassment victims the right to a jury trail and compensatory and punitive damages for financial and emotional harm, with awards based on company size. Congress is expected to pass an amendment that would lift the current cap ($300,000) on these awards, but companies fear that even with limits, sexual-harassment suits will become the “next asbestos.” it may cost Corporate American more than $1 billion over the next five years to settle these lawsuits, according to calculations by Treasury, a magazine for financial executives. Many companies may begin to push the burden onto the harassers—by firing them promptly.

Even in that legendary lair of harassment, the construction site, fear of monetary loss can bring about change. A female architect, 39, from Chicago reports that one contractor deals with complaints against harassers by immediate dismissal, no reassignment, no second chance. Walking through the job site is like walking through an altar boy’s convention. The color green is the most powerful motivation in this country.”      

Behavior can turn around quickly in a workplace once the stakes are raised high enough. “Economic and legal pressures may not immediately change attitudes—that can take decades—but they can change behavior,” notes Helen Neuborne, executive director of the NOW legal Defense and Education Fund. And changing behavior is good enough.

Ronni Sandroff won a Page One Award for her 1988 story “Sexual Harassment in the Fortune 500,’ in WORKING WOMAN.

The Doctorless Visit

The Doctorless Visit

By Ronni Sandroff | May 2017 | Dr. Oz The Good Life

Welcome to the new world of doctoring; read this to get the best possible care.

When Jen Finelli, a 26-year-old med student from Virginia, had pelvic pain she couldn’t shake, she headed to her local health center for treatment. Luckily, the doctor was just what she’d hoped for: thorough, easy to talk to, and attentive. Only afterward, with prescription in hand, did she realize that her “doctor” was really a nurse practitioner. “I just assumed she was a physician because she was so knowledgeable,” says Finelli.

Who’ll be sitting on that swivel stool the next time you’re sick? At one point, the answer would have been a no-brainer: a doctor, of course. But today, depending on where you live, your first stop for a bad bug or an ache could be a nurse practitioner (N.P.), a registered nurse who has an advanced degree and extra training in a specialty like family medicine, or a physician assistant (P.AJ, a state-licensed health care provider who is typically supervised by a doctor. These two professions have grown exponentially, doubling their ranks in the last decade.

Physicians, on the other hand, are in short supply in many parts of the country and will become even scarcer nationwide in coming years, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Demographics are a factor; just as baby boomer docs are retiring, the demand for health services by a growing and aging population is increasing-and we aren’t producing doctors fast enough to keep up. To make matters worse, a recent change by the Trump administration to how visas are granted is making it harder for foreign docs to come hear a problem since almost 2S% of physicians training or practicing in the U.S. today are from other countries.

Training N.P.’s and P.A.’s requires less time and money than minting new doctors. The average family medicine doc goes through 10,000 hours of clinical training; a P.A., around 2,000; and an N.P., as many as I, SOO hours on top of his or her R.N. experience.

You might have been getting care from N.P.’s and P.A.’s at your physician’s office, where they perform exams and take medical histories. Or more recently, you may have been treated by one in an urgent care clinic-S9% are staffed with N.P.’s or P.A.’s-or a retail clinic (such as those within pharmacies), where they provide most of the care.

What’s new: You’re more likely now to encounter N.P.’s working on their own. Some 22 states and the District of Columbia have granted them “full practice authority,” meaning they can treat patients and open clinics without supervision by an M.D. And in 30 states, P.A.’s can now treat patients without a doctor signing off on their charts.

Those changes reflect the reality of the day, says Nancy Brook, R.N., a nurse practitioner in California. “There aren’t enough primary care physicians, especially in prenatal care and women’s health, for Medicaid recipients, and in rural areas and on Indian reservations. We fill a need.”

Take El Dorado County, a semi-rural community outside Sacramento. Most of the providers at its El Dorado Community Health Center (EDCHC), which serves 11,000 patients, are N.P.’s and P.A.’s; physicians have been hard to recruit to an area where the nearest town is up to 40 miles away. In fact, says Diane Bass, a nurse practitioner, and the EDCHC’s clinic director, some of her youngest patients have only been treated by N.P.’s and P.A.’s.

Bass, who’d worked as a clinical and ER nurse, became an N.P. to help make care more convenient. “In the ER, I’d see people come in for something as simple as a cold,” Bass says. “I thought they should be able to get their needs met without having to spend six hours in the emergency room.”

There are certainly benefits to seeing an N.P. or a P.A. For one, you may get in faster. Many health plans offer same day appointments with them, while a 2014 survey found that you’ll wait an average of 20 days to get an appointment with a family physician.

But does it matter if your doctor isn’t a doctor? A IS-year analysis of patients who saw a physician, an N.P., or a P.A. found that all three made similar prescribing choices (and similar mistakes, such as ordering low-quality antibiotics for colds) at similar rates. And other studies showed they all had similar outcomes in preventing hospitalization for those with chronic diseases.

Of course, there are times when it makes sense to seek out a physician, says Virginia McCoy Hass, an assistant professor of nursing at the University of California, Davis, who is both an N.P. and a P.A.-for example, if you have a condition that’s been difficult to diagnose, or you require complex specialty care.

But for the face you see most often-your primary care provider-simply pick whoever feels like the best match for you, says Cindy Cooke, D.N.P., president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. It might take a little trial and error but never settle for less in that relationship. Your health depends on it.

Top 5 Costliest Health Issues Retirees Face

If, in your working years, you’ve had to scramble to buy health insurance or cope with rising co-pays on employer insurance, it’s tempting to think you’ll be home free once you reach 65 and sign up for Medicare. And yes Medicare does have significant benefits: About 80% of doctor-visit and testing costs are covered, as are most hospital costs, and you can even get partial payment for that long-needed mental-health therapy.

But contrary to wishful thinking, Medicare is far from free and has significant gaps in coverage. Health expenses paid out-of-pocket by individuals rise steeply with age, even after Medicare kicks in. While people aged 45-64 spent an average of $8370 for healthcare in 2010, that figure rose to $15,857 a year for those 65 to 84, and to almost $35,000 per person for those 85 years and older.

Ironically, taking good care of yourself and staying healthy can add more, not less, to the total healthcare costs of your retirement years. That’s because many the out-of-pocket expenses are annual premium costs, and living longer means you’ll be paying them longer. Sorry about that.

Here are the top 5 costliest health care expenses that retirees experience, with suggestions about what to do cover them.

“Hidden” Premiums

Medicare premiums are deducted from your Social Security check each month, and because they don’t arrive as a bill, it’s easy to forget you’re paying them. Medicare Part A, for hospital costs, has no premium for people who have worked and their spouses because it’s prepaid through payroll taxes during the working years. If you didn’t work and pay FICA taxes for at least 40 quarters, the premium is $411 a month.

But for Medicare Part B, which covers doctor visits, tests, ambulance rides and supplies, enrollees pay a monthly premium that is currently $104.90 a month, with surcharges for those with incomes over $85,000 a year. Over the retirement years, these premiums cost at least $1,258.80 a year for an individual. Combined with premiums for drug insurance and possibly supplemental or gap insurance to pay the portions of the bills that Medicare doesn’t cover, premiums can take a big bite out of retirement income.

Co-pays and Other Medicare Expenses

Premium costs are only the start of the bills Medicare recipients need to pay. Deductibles and co-pays are also significant. For Medicare Part B the annual deductible rose from $147 a year in 2015 to $166 in 2016. And there’s a $1,288 deductible for a hospital stay. And then there’s meeting the portion of any medical or hospital bills that Medicare doesn’t cover. On average, people aged 65-84 paid $5,887 a year in hospital co-pays and $3,281 a year for physician and clinical services in 2010. For those 85 and older, the costs were $10,405 for hospital co-pays and $4,342 for physician and clinical services.

There are two common strategies for meeting the costs that Medicare only partially covers. One is to join a Medicare Advantage Plan, often an HMO or PPO plan, that covers most Medicare services, and often includes drug insurance as well. The trade-off is that you need to use only the doctors who are part of the HMO or PPO plan, although some plans will cover part of the fee for seeing out-of-plan doctors.

Another strategy is to purchase supplemental or “gap” insurance from a private company. The highest premium plans will cover all Medicare copays and deductibles, with decreasing percentages for lower premium plans. Prescription drugs are not included in these plans. Neither are any expenses (such as dental costs) that Medicare itself doesn’t cover. Premiums average $186 per month and $2,232 annually for an individual. Both Medicare Advantage Plans and Medigap policies can help make medical costs in retirement more predictable. (See Medigap Vs. Medicare Advantage Plans: Which Is Better?)

Drug Insurance and Co-pays

If you don’t join a Medicare Advantage Plan, neither regular Medicare nor a Medigap policy will cover your costs for prescription drugs. Drug insurance, or Part D of Medicare, also has premiums, deductibles, and co-pays, and while buying it at retirement is not compulsory, you pay a penalty for the months you went bare if you decide to get it later. Out-of-pocket drugs costs averaged $1866 for those 64-84 in 2010, and $1935 for those 85 and older.

You can arrange to get your Part D premiums deducted from your Social Security check, but be prepared to use other strategies as well to keep drug costs down. Asking your doctor for generic or inexpensively priced drugs is important, and you may find that buying generics at Walmart, Costco or Target or through Walgreen’s prescription savings club costs you less than paying the co-pays required by your drug insurance.

Eyes, Ears, and Teeth

While Medicare covers most of your body, some parts are left nearly bare. If you need a cataract operation, Medicare will cover a portion of the expense and even allow you a free pair of post-op prescription glasses. But it doesn’t pay for routine eye exams, eyeglass prescriptions, or other visual aids. Neither will Medicare pay for hearing exams or hearing aids.

And if you’re hospitalized because your jaw and teeth are broken in a car accident, Medicare’s got your back, but it does not cover routine dental care, caps, bridges, or other procedures. People between 65 and 84 years old can expect dental services to cost them about $377 a year, and it’s one of the few expenses that declines with age, costing those 85 an older just $341 a year on average in 2010.

Nursing Care

Most of us associate the term “long term care” with nursing-home admission, but we need to think more broadly about how we will be cared for if illness makes us temporarily or permanently unable to take care of ourselves. All of the choices are expensive, including being cared for by family members and friends, who may have to give up paid employment to assist you. For example, lost wages and benefits for women caregivers can total $342,000, not to mention their increasing risk of heart disease and depression.

Costs for home health care, adult day care, assisted living and nursing home residence are substantial – and are best covered by either purchasing long term care insurance or setting up a dedicated investment account for that purpose.

The Bottom Line

Even though it costs more to live longer, staying healthy so you can do the things you enjoy is still the best retirement option. Budgeting for retirement should include a hard look at projected health expenses. Overall, retirees can expect Medicare to cover about 62% of their annual healthcare expenses. About 32% of out-of-pocket costs will be for Medicare part B and part D premiums; 45% on Medicare deductibles, co-pays and cost sharing; and 23% on drug expenses.

Note: The costs cited in this article are average, and there is little way of knowing in advance what your costs or longevity will be. Calculators from HealthView and from AARP can give a more personalized estimate that takes into account your current health conditions.

Read more: Top 5 Costliest Health Issues Retirees Face | Investopedia
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