What we’ve been up to while sheltering at home
No matter what, Tiger King had all the elements to be a hit: wild animals, intrigue, a love triangle, and mullets. Coming available to stream on Netflix on March 20 as much of the US began to shelter at home allowed it to become a cultural touchstone of the coronavirus pandemic. Without live sports—with the exception of Florida deeming WWE an essential business and UFC staged some fights—we needed something to keep us entertained during respites from the toilet paper wars.
Come Back, Sports!
Normally during this time of year we’d have been watching the NCAA Tournament, the Masters, and celebrating baseball’s Opening Day. But as shelter at home orders began to take effect, the NCAA Tournament was canceled, the Masters is scheduled for November now, and it’s unclear when baseball will start if at all. We’ve tided ourselves over with the NFL Draft—albeit conducted via video conference rather than with draftees riding boats up to a stage set up in the Bellagio fountains as was originally planned.
We’ve also entertained ourselves watching replays of sporting events that already happened: classic NCAA Tournament games, NBA Finals games, the 2019 Masters when Tiger Woods won his major championship in 11 years, even the 1997 National Spelling Bee. There was even a brief window when the night owls among us could tune in to Australian Rules Football in empty stadiums before the AFL shut down its season as Aussies began sheltering at home. ESPN’s “The Last Dance” documentary on Michael Jordan and the Bulls provided an NBA fix over 10 episodes and five Sundays.
MLB floated the idea of playing its season with all teams based in Arizona, or Arizona and Florida, without fans. Then players and owners entered negotiation on various proposals, including at home stadiums with no fans. The NBA has discussed restarting in July after 25 days of organized workouts and training camps. The NFL continued free agency and to operate as if the season will start as scheduled in September after a normal preseason. Given the revenue it generates for universities and other sports, the powers that be in college football are determined to play a season.
Until then, we’ll have to be satisfied with gambling on Taiwan’s baseball leagues, H-O-R-S-E competitions, and athletes playing against each other in video game versions of their sports before Korean baseball and German soccer came back to our TVs.
Now We’re Cooking
If you’re among those who have abandoned a fruitless search for toilet paper to take up an equally fruitless search for yeast, you know how popular breadmaking has become. Mr. Holmes Bakehouse got in on the trend early, selling a bread starter and kit on delivery platforms in San Francisco and Los Angeles, with the proceeds going to furloughed employees. We’ve never seen so much sourdough.
Given that we’re at home all day and restaurants are open for takeout or delivery only if not shut altogether, chefs the world over have been conducting virtual cooking classes—Ina Garten’s gigantic cosmo, anyone?
Parents who have been trying to juggle homeschooling and otherwise keeping kids occupied while working from home can certainly empathize with the Barefoot Contessa. With free classes designed for kids ages 3-18, Outschool has been a godsend. We’ve also been doing a lot of puzzles.
“Around the second week of March, we noticed sales at one of our largest retail customers … were up 300% over the same week the previous year,” Ceaco president Carol Glazer told NPR. “And we said, ‘Oh my God. How can you prepare for something like this?'” The company sold out of puzzles and had to scramble for inventory as makers in most cases aren’t considered essential businesses. Here’s hoping you managed to snag one with a few thousand pieces before the big drought.
With so much times on their hands, not to mention the stress, loneliness, and desire for an excuse to go outside, people have been adopting pets in droves. So much so that many animal shelters in the US have run out of animals.
“We will have to establish a new routine for ourselves. Building it around our furry companion’s needs might help as a starting point,” Iris Smolkovic, a psychologist who works with Dogs for Good, told Wired. “Even if you live with other people, the companion animal can be a good distraction. They bring humor with their antics, which is important for stress relief. You can take turns in walking your dog, for example, to maintain a healthy distance in the relationship.”
Those little devices we carry with us everywhere, texting and checking the internet? They make phone calls, too. We’re quickly rediscovering that capability, as Verizon reported an average of 800 million phone calls on its network on weekdays since shelter at home orders took effect. AT&T said call volume is up 35% and the average call is 33% longer. “We’ve become a nation that calls like never before,” FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said. “We are craving human voice.”
The reconnecting extends to larger hangouts as well, with pub trivia taking place over video conferencing, and friends scheduling virtual happy hours. In addition to conducting its annual company retreat over Zoom, Largay Travel has been hosting Meditation Mondays to calm the mind and Friday night dance parties to let loose.
“Being salespeople, most of our team is used to planning amazing journeys and dreaming with our clients,” Largay president and co-owner Amanda Klimak told BOSS, “not taking cancellation after cancellation and working with disappointed customers.”
As travel came to a grinding halt and advisors scrambled to get clients home before flights stopped, Klimak decided the team at Largay headquarters in Connecticut and independent contractors across the US could use something to look forward to “even it’s just for 15 minutes to let it all out,” she said. Each Friday night brings a new theme, and a growing list of attendees, from hotel and tour operators to advisors’ kids. “It just reinforces what I love about this industry and the people in it,” Klimak said.
Though we’re supposed to stay at least 6 feet apart, in some ways sheltering at home has brought us closer together, whether it’s visiting our friends’ islands on Animal Crossing, sitting outside with our neighbors, or replenishing beer supplies for the elderly. Until we can gather in crowds again, we can at least watch Tiger King together over Netflix Party.