Welcome to the new norm: self-distancing, self-quarantine, social distancing, whatever you want to call it.
Hey, that’s always been my norm. There’s no need for a hug, especially if I barely know you. I don’t mind shaking your hand, but don’t do the lean in — we’re not NBA players. I don’t need you as my new best friend.
True story: About a year ago, a co-worker named Jong Lee invited me to his wedding. I told him, I’m not coming, and until a week ago, I didn’t know if Jong was your first name or last name. (Editor’s note: Sorry, Jong.)
The life of a social distancer
I’ve always washed my hands a lot, covered my sneezes, put on gloves when I carve the Thanksgiving turkey. I don’t consider these safety measures against disease. I’m just being clean. I don’t touch doorknobs in public restrooms. I’ll pull down my sleeve or use paper towels. If it’s a restroom without urinals, and a toilet is my only option, I’ll turn around and mule-kick the flush handle.
Coronavirus is serious business, but everybody social distancing, where have you been all my life? As I write this, I’m holed up in a condo by Lake Travis. I visited England recently. When I got back, except for a rare venture to the supermarket, walking my dog around the block, and shooting baskets in my driveway, I stayed inside for two weeks. It wasn’t hard. It was pretty much life as usual. I was fine. I’m a TV guy.
Since I dropped DirecTV, my cable doesn’t conk out whenever it drizzles anywhere in North America. I watch TV and eat pizza straight out of the box on my lap. I eat ice cream out of the half-gallon carton and put whatever’s left back in the freezer, with the spoon still in the carton. No live sports on TV is making social distancing a little difficult.
Like Sunday afternoon, my body’s auto-pilot says, great, sports all day. Then I have to watch an old basketball game or tennis match where I already know the result. I can’t watch sports if I know who won. Even pro wrestling, where I know who’ll win, is tough to watch. It’s just two people dancing, without bad guys telling the fans to “shut up” and good guys ultimately defeating evil. Golf on TV? That’s still the same, live, on tape, same difference.
Sports channels could make isolation more tolerable by airing historic contests from the past. I’d love to see an entire Pete Maravich game from his LSU years, like the time he went off for 55 points vs. Kentucky. And that was before there was a 3-point line. It would be fun to watch a Bill Russell vs. Wilt Chamberlain clash. But not just highlights, a whole game. Instead, we get the Tennis Channel airing a meaningless early-round match from last year.
A report on CNN said self-distancing can be “lonely, inconvenient and frightening.” Not really. I’m a little claustrophobic as it is. Now I have an excuse to avoid crowded elevators. My table’s not ready? Goodbye. The doctor’s waiting room is packed? I’ll make another appointment. I’d rather ride the wimpy It’s a Small World than wait an hour for Space Mountain at Disney World.
If you visit the CVS on the corner of Stella Link and Bellaire Boulevard, you’ll see a “Stand behind this line” sign at the pharmacy. I’m the reason for that sign. About two years ago, I was waiting for a prescription and some idiot was standing behind me so close I could smell his breath on my neck. The store manager didn’t want to put up that sign, but I didn’t stop screaming and jumping. I broke him.
My friends make fun of me because I shop at the Dollar Store. I always lose sunglasses, so I buy them 10 at a time. They last me all year. The thing about dollar stores, they always have a big basket of hand sanitizer by the cash register. I usually pick up a travel-size bottle and throw it in my car’s console. Now I have hand sanitizer and my friends don’t. Mock me some more. You’re not getting any.
Tips on social distancing include using the telephone, email, text messaging, Twitter, and video to communicate with people. Except for no Internet, and from the looks of photos, no soap or water, this is how the Unabomber lived.
I’m on Twitter. I’ll write something pointless and dumb and hit send. Sometimes my buddy Raheel Ramzanali (9-11 am on ESPN 97.5 FM) will respond to my tweet. I’ll call him, “We work for the same company, in the same building. We have known each other for a lot of years. You have been to my house. You have my phone number and email address. Why are you communicating me through Twitter, where everybody can see it?
Some people can’t stop living their lives in public. A little social distancing won’t hurt.