I have an eclectic group of friends.
My wife says that’s because they make me feel like I’m normal. That’ might be true. They’re a diverse group for sure. One thing that binds most of them is that they’re sports fans.
They’ve all laughed at this meme going around on social media:
Day Six Without Sports on TV: I noticed a cute girl sitting on my couch. Turns out she’s my wife. She seems nice.”
Checking in with friends has been suggested as a good mental health exercise during this somewhat “homebound” time. I did that this week to see what my normal group of friends has been up to, what they’ve missed and what they haven’t missed.
“I haven’t missed the XFL, that’s for sure,” my friend “The BQ” said when I asked him about his regular TV viewing habits. “I’ve really enjoyed how the NFL free agency season has developed. That’s been fun to follow.”
The BQ is single, but says he’s also been able to fortify his relationship with his post-college age daughter during this time.
“We’ve been fishing, just sitting around talking,” he said. “That’s really been nice.”
That sentiment seemed to be pervasive through all of the conversations with my friends.
“What it’s done for me has reinforced what I think is important,” ‘Baldy’ told me this week. ‘Baldy’ is retired, has kept playing golf pretty regularly and does some day trading as a hobby.
“I realized, again, most of this doesn’t matter,” he said. “I don’t need more than I have. Friendships, family, those are the important things. I’ve reached out to some of my old friends from years ago, back to high school. It’s amazing the response I’ve gotten.”
Almost all of my friends said they’ve missed watching the NCAA basketball tournament on television. You might remember my friend ‘Wooly.’ We’ve been to Las Vegas together a few times, spending time in the sports books. The NCAA Tournament is a big wagering enterprise but since there are no sports, there’s no sports betting.
And if you’re somebody who likes the ‘action,’ there is no action.
“Of course I miss the action,” Wooly said with a laugh. “If that’s something you enjoy, you miss it.”
I did some checking and you could still get ‘action’ from the sports books in the UK on: Soccer in Belarus, table tennis in Hungary and the weather in England. They’ll take action on what the high wind gust of the day will be.
“I miss going and watching the golf the most, frankly,” Wooly said. “It provides a level of relaxation I don’t get anywhere else. I always try and go to The Players, The Masters, and The Heritage. All of those, I value each one I get a chance to attend.”
“I haven’t missed watching sports on TV,” he added. I miss my buddies.”
Being in a business that’s significantly impacted by social distancing, Wooly has been working more this time of year than he normally would.
“That’s OK,” he said. “Everyday I appreciate the fact that I have a job to go to. I’m in a “no risk” job. I get to go to work everyday.”
Things haven’t been as good for my friend ‘Goose,’ at least not professionally.
Goose runs a company in town that would be called a “small business.” He’s been looking forward to Congress passing the stimulus bill because regrettably, he had to lay off his entire staff this week. He’s hoping that with the stimulus they all can collect unemployment and stay solvent. Most of them will come back to work, but in his business, there will be a significant lag before he’s back up to where he was two weeks ago.
“We’re shut down, and we have to react to that,” he added somewhat wistfully. “But everybody’s going through it so it’s not ‘woe is me,’ its ‘woe is the whole country.’”
While most of his time has been focused at work, Goose has been spending some of his extra personal time redoing a condo himself, ripping out floors, replacing the ceilings. His honey-do list is longer than ever, he says. Both of his college age children have moved back home so he’s been enjoying the time with his family.
“Our kids still kind of like us at this point, so it’s been fun to hang out with them a lot more,” he said of he and his wife who suddenly have two more adults living in their house.
“Like most guys, I miss watching basketball with my son. Watching golf on weekends. I always loved watching the 10 o’clock basketball game from the West Coast. I miss going to play golf, hanging out with some friends. But we’re getting along fine.”
At seventy-six years old, “Big Beef” is still involved with his business, a very big business. He says he’s been staying home mostly, being very careful.
“I’m very cognizant of the six-foot rule,” he said. “I’ve taken it very seriously. Being in my house isn’t all that bad. We’re not confined to a small apartment in New York or anything like that.”
“Beef” says his business is still going along pretty well. Some of his customers are looking for relief and he expects the government stimulus will be able to help them.
“This isn’t an economic problem with the country so we’re still moving forward and expect a good bounce when things work back toward normal.”
With a lot of options, Beef says he and his wife decided to stay in town. He’s misses traveling and some of the day-to-day contact in his office. But staying home has given him a chance to catch up on some things he’s been putting off.
“I’ve been going through old photographs. I’m doing business from home.” he said. “Taking life easy. I’m not anxious. I go out on the golf course in the cart. We’re getting take out and eating on the porch.”
“I think things will get back to normal and people will forget about this assuming they get a vaccine,” Beef said. “It has given me a new awareness of how serious the flu and things like it can be, that’s for sure.”
On the contrary, “True Blue” thinks this will have a long-term effect on how people think and act.
“My kid’s education will be much different. They’ll finish their school year online with their teachers. It’ll change the way we greet each other. Probably a lot less hand shaking. It’ll be long and painful enough that people will remember this.”
Blue works in the financial sector so he’s been working a lot more but he and his wife have school age kids that so he’s enjoyed spending some of this beautiful springtime with them.
“I’ve enjoyed the time with my family and I don’t mind the pace,” he added. “Once you calm down from the pace of what your typical day is like, you can enjoy time with your family. I’ve certainly gained a lot more patience.”
When my friends get antsy sitting around at home, they all have the same solutions: Go for a walk, get in the car and go for a drive. Blue is even making gourmet meals, doing things that take more time when you don’t usually have the time for.
And despite the total disruption of everybody’s lives, some things go on as normal.
“I took my son to get his drivers license,” Blue said with a laugh. “That’s a real right of passage. It was awesome. Of course he said that night he wanted to go out and I told him “no way.’”
Every one of my friends said they’ve had a chance to look around, and appreciate some of the things we all call normal.
“We have to appreciate all of the things we have,” Wooly said. “ When things get back to normal, “normal” will be appreciated with a higher value. I think that’s good.”
“This is a big deal,” said Baldy, who has enough of a scientific background to know. “The world won’t be the same after this. It’ll be a better place. I hope it helps relationships in this country and internationally. We’re going to get through this and we’ll be better for it.”