By Brian Hoffman
It is truly incredible how this coronavirus has spread in such a short period of time, and the impact it is having on the country. Last week was supposed to be the start of my busiest season. The fall and winter high school sports seasons pale in comparison to the many spring sports. Then you add in the Red Sox and youth sports and nine different Roanoke College spring sports and you can see how it would be a very busy time.
Instead, last week I spent my evenings sitting on the porch reading until it got dark, and then trying to find something to watch on TV that didn’t require a ball or a puck. I was thinking this is how it might feel to be retired, only without sports to watch. What kind of hell is this?
My wife wasn’t home, as she’s been in Nashville with our youngest son and his family. She was there when the tornado hit, huddled under a blanket with sirens going and wind whistling around their house. Our son’s house was not damaged but the place where he worked was leveled to the ground, and now with the shutout neither he nor his wife is working with a three year old and a baby at home.
I stayed here to cover sports, and when there were none I opted to take in a movie on the final weekend the theatres were open. I decided on “The Hunt,” a highly anticipated movie that opened that day. I got my drink and popcorn and walked into a theater where I was the only patron 10 minutes prior to show time, or at least prior to the 20 minutes of previews.
Soon two others arrived, and wouldn’t you know it they sat in the very same row I was in. Two older women, and I can say that because they seemed to be about my age, plopped down a couple seats from me and promptly took out their phones and started talking away. THREE PEOPLE in the whole theater and they have to sit in my row and talk on their phones, ignoring the plea on the screen to “please turn off your phone.” The main event wasn’t showing just yet, but I like to watch the previews without this distraction.
My first thought was, this would make a great episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” If I’m Larry David I approach those women and make a scene, but that’s not me. I try to be non-confrontational, so I went to the restroom, and when I returned I took a seat several rows back.
Then, when the movie finally came on, it wasn’t one I’d recommend. “The Hunt” was extremely violent and not all that interesting, but I stayed none the less as I had nothing else to do.
One thing I don’t understand is the run on toilet paper? I can understand bread and milk, and I can certainly understand stocking up on paper towels since it’s important to wipe everything clean. However, the only thing I wipe clean with toilet paper shouldn’t be any more active at this point.
I saw an item on the web Monday where the police department in Newport, Oregon has put out a notice urging residents to stop calling 9-1-1 because they don’t have any toilet paper! Honest! Reading stuff like that makes me glad I work for a “newspaper.”
Also, they tell you not to touch your face. Apparently no one told the third base coaches at the last baseball and softball scrimmages I attended before all games were shut down. How many baseball coaches in the country do you think contacted the virus by calling for a bunt or a hit and run?
No one is sure how long this will go on, and it seems to be getting worse every day. I’m writing this column on Monday and I have no idea what to expect by Wednesday, when it hits the newsstands. Just two weeks ago I was still planning to attend a couple NBA games in Charlotte this past weekend, and two days later the whole darned season was suspended. Randy in our advertising department had advertisements ready to go for our “March Madness” contest and I had the car gassed up for a trip to Richmond for the high school championships. Instead, I ended up at that terrible movie with two other people in the theater.
What to do, what to do? Well, right now I’m glad I live in southwest Virginia because we seem to be pretty safe at the moment. I’m watching a lot of the NFL Network as they’re beating “Free Agency” and the coming draft to death, but at least that’s something current. I really can’t get into watching reruns of past games where I know who won. To me, most of the thrill of sports is not knowing who is going to win.
It looks like I’m going to have to deal with this for a while. Good luck to all and remember to stock up on toilet paper.