This article originally appeared on VICE CA.
To slow the spread of the coronavirus, we’ve all been instructed to practice social distancing, a confusing term that seems to mean a million things at once.
Thankfully some Canadian bureaucrats put it in words I could understand. Stay a hockey stick’s length apart.
That’s right, the city of Toronto is rolling out a sign saying good physical distancing is "about the length of a hockey stick.” It wasn’t advice in a vacuum. CTV journalists were already taping microphones to the end of hockey sticks to keep some distance between them and the public/camera crew.
Canadians bristle at being called cliches but here we are, preparing to use a CCM Ribcor 62K Grip stick to make sure we don’t kill anyones grandmother. How fun.
Lucky for me I had a Mission hockey stick lying around my place and, in an effort to beat the incredible boredom brought on by self-isolation, I decided to see how much a stick can help during this time. If self-isolation has driven you to similar levels of unfathomable boredom why don’t you join me on this stupid little journey? Maybe we’ll learn something together.
Enjoying a socially distant breakfast
One of the things I miss is cooking for people.
The creativity, the creation of something tangible, the immediate joy if you pull something off, and the immediate disappointment if you fuck up, are all things I enjoy. COVID-19 has put a damper on that. But say you and your friend are going to be naughty lil' folks and meet up for some brunch, what should you do? First of all, maybe just don’t, but a hockey stick can help keep you six feet apart in the kitchen.
For tools, you’ll need a knife, a spatula, and some duct tape. First, you’re going to take a spatula and tape that mofo to the curved end of your stick. This will give you maximum flipping potential. Then you’re going to get a knife (maybe don’t try this at home, I am a professional idiot) and duct tape that sucker to your knob.
Now we're going to presume your friend loves sitting near the oven and watching your skills first hand. So, you're going to crack an egg into a preheated pan (it’s very difficult but doable) and then do your best to scrape all the eggshells out, the shells will get into the pan (just tell your friend they add to the flavour). Now you’re going to reach over and flip that egg. If at first it doesn’t go, don’t get discouraged, you’ll get it eventually.
Now, the knife end of our handy cookin’ stick isn’t as… useful. I attempted to slice an English muffin—so my friend and I could soak up our perfectly cooked yolks—but I was thoroughly destroyed by the muffin.
One outta two ain’t bad though! In the end, your friend will be treated to both a breakfast and a show of your hand-eye coordination!
Pouring some java
Wow! That went as well as cooking breakfast with a hockey stick could have! Good job, the one guy from Saskatoon who is still following along.
But what's breakie without a cup of joe? And what is coffee, if it isn't poured for you, right? So reach across that table with the old stick and pour your buddy a cup of coffee to go with his perfectly cooked egg.
Does this work?
The answer is a Stone Cold level “hell yeah”—but with some caveats.
Just don’t try to pour cream.
I’m not part of the washer/dryer bourgeoisie, I have to haul my shit to a local laundromat to get it nice and sparkling clean. This shouldn't be a problem in the least! I just made breakfast, I think I can watch my socks and undies.
Nope. While I could load my clothes and detergent into the machine like a champ, setting it, getting my coins in the proper slots, and getting the machine going was immensely difficult.
So unless you want some shrunken gonch and a bunch of people at the laundromat staring at you for the three hours it takes you to put four loonies and two quarters into the machine, it's best to avoid the dreaded laundromat.
This seems easy! Hell, it even allows you to turn your groceries into a bindle on the walk home. In practice though, it's a bit more complicated. You can easily knock shit off the shelves into your cart or—if you’re particularly flexible—your basket, but you’ll be flailing around a cramped grocery store aisle with a hockey stick and that’s just going to further freak out a group of already stressed-out people more. For that reason alone, that is a no-no.
That said, if coffee stores or bakeries ever reopen and you want to go pick up some yum-yums for your tum-tums can you do it from six feet away? Well, you can for sure grab a coffee—just tape a mug to the end of the stick.
Paying for things
The unsung heroes of this pandemic are assuredly the grocers and cashiers. They're on the frontline of everyone's bullshit and germs.
So, can a humble hockey stick make their lives a little easier? Well, it will get us six feet away from them, for sure! But if we were to pay with cash we would still just be sending germs their way. No, because we don't take the easy way out, we’re going to pay with our debit card because that’s the cleanest way.
To see if this was viable, I set up a little test in my living room. I put a penny in a fancy lil' box I found to make the slot open just wide enough for a card to get in there and I put an Xbox controller on it. Boom! A homemade debit machine. To put myself through the test, I taped a pen to the top of the stick to manipulate the controller (my debit machine stand-in). Then I tried to get the card in and put in a four-digit code.
I am the Gretzky of homebrewed debit machine emulators.
What is life without a little romance with your sweetie? Will this hockey stick help you hold hands with your partner? It sure will. How to accomplish this is pretty simple.
Can you travel the world as an annoying travel influencer?
So, you’ve held hands with your lovely. Isn’t that nice! What if you guys want to do more though? What if you guys want to become travel influencers and post annoyingly cute pictures of one of you leading the other onwards to adventure (that you managed to talk a travel company into paying for and smuggling you out of the locked-down country)?
Hell yeah, make me an influencer, please. (I'll get back to you about the whole travelling outside of Canada in a few months, or whenever it becomes feasible again. )
"Oh Mack, of course a hockey stick is going to excel here," you say naively. "What’s the point of even testing it?’
Well, my sweet but dumb reader, the reason is that to live a full happy life you need to be able to do more than just sick toe-drags, dangles, and clappers from the top of the circle, you need variety. Can a hockey stick be more than just a hockey stick?
I think we know the answer to that. Cue some inspirational music and duct tape noises, please.
I got some of my weights for my dumbbells and made myself a makeshift bench press. It worked but only halfway. Honestly, the duct tape is a pretty precarious way to connect weights to something. I had to keep the weights low so I didn’t break a toe or something while researching this stupid, stupid, blog. If you’re going for high reps, this is for you. If not, you might want to pass and just do like… push-ups or something.
Uh yeah, if you want to go shoot a tennis ball against a wall it works. Just stay far away from people.
I live in Toronto, the home of the reigning NBA champs, so you know I gotta see if I can play ball with my buds. Sports, both amateur and professional, have essentially been cancelled en masse in the wake of coronavirus. I get the decision, in most sports contact is essential and that goes double for basketball. But what if you didn't have to touch the ball and had something, say a sort of curved stick, to help you keep 6 feet away from defenders?
After a little bit of practicing, I was able to get dribbling down. Honestly, it’s kinda fun. Shooting is going to take some practice though.
Should I get a stick?
So, after all these tests and all these words. What have we learned? One, my editors are as bored as I am.
Other than that, not much other than a hockey stick is very versatile, I have far too much time on my hands during this quarantine, and that I dramatically miss human contact.
Frankly, I am sorry to report, I don’t think that a hockey stick is going to be the saviour for all of us in self-isolation. Nothing is going to make the next few weeks or months feel normal. There is no simple trick to help us escape this situation, even if we upgrade to a Bauer Vapor Flylite Grip. We simply need to deal with it head-on, and stay home. In times like these sacrifices need to be made—sort of like blocking slappers—and if the only thing I’m required to do is suffer through some stir craziness, I should consider myself lucky.
I’m pretty shit at hockey anyways.
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