Pandemic Journal August 7, 2020
Tommy West on this week. My husband, Logan Matthews, will be back next week. He’s out of town testifying for some state legislature. Actually, he’s with one of the league’s lawyers who’s testifying before some state legislature. Logan’s the legal errand boy, looking up stuff and finding answers for the lawyer.
They’re in either Michigan or New York, or maybe New Jersey. One of the states that voted for emergency authorities for the state’s governors. So, the governors make up the rules as they go and there’s nothing for the legislatures to do. They get bored, and hold hearings. Sometimes they run out of ideas for what to investigate, so they’ll make shit up. This one was about racial bias in the NBA against Asians. No joke. Asians are under-represented in the league, but not by much. People forget that Indians and Koreans are Asian, they’re only looking for Japanese and Chinese. Anyway, it’s going well, and so several other state legislatures are holding hearings on the same topic. Logan’s going to be out of town a lot this summer.
Hockey, Basketball, Women’s Basketball all playing this week, but everybody is still locked down because of this pandemic. Frankly, I don’t see it. I read the papers about hospitalization, complications and death rates, and if you’re under 50 you’re almost guaranteed not to get real sick or even need to go to the hospital with it. If you’re over 70, you’re almost guaranteed to have a problem. There are exceptions, but you’ve really just got to go with the numbers.
I’ve started a new hobby – whittling. You’d think while I was living in the middle of nowhere, with fallen branches and twigs all around me, I’d have started then, not after moving into a high-rise in a big city. Well, you’d be wrong. Hagenbush – Greg Hagenbush – was a new addition, and had begun teaching us to whittle. He was a country boy, unsophisticated, didn’t ever play ball. I figured him for some VIP’s idiot nephew who’d been given a job in the front office counting paperclips.
I was only half right. The General Manager’s son had spent the last several months in Arkansas, on a sort of domestic Peace Corps assignment, teaching locals to read. Hagenbush was one of his students, 25 years old; the son was 24. They spent a lot of time together, became close, and the son noticed something strange about his new friend. He could look at complex movements involving a group, whether a basketball team, a football team, a flock of chickens, a huge flock of birds, or a herd of cattle, and describe what they were going to do next. He also did math in his head. Like multiplying two six-digit numbers, or saying what day of the week a date would be a thousand years from now. Scary.
Anyway, Hagenbush worked in the front office as a statistician. Not a usual one – I know enough to do most of the basics – but one who could instantly develop complex algorithms involving a level of calculus I’d never achieve, and just knowing the answer. He spends eight hours a day reviewing game tapes. Logan watched some tapes with him, and said that Hagenbush did what he did on the court to call plays, just better. He had moved into the second bedroom in Deeann’s apartment. Antoine was teaching him how basketball worked, so he could describe things in basketball terms.
So, we’re learning to whittle. The GM’s son, who I think is named Avery or something, brought in a bunch of wood – sticks, branches, whatever. The first thing we were supposed to make was a fish hook. I took a small piece of wood and a pocket knife and just stared at them. Hagenbush told us to cut away all the parts that didn’t look like a fish hook. Not real helpful. Then he showed us how to use a squared piece of wood to start with the end of the hook in the corner. I did that, and was able to get something that looked like a Goth piercing. Close enough. Then we were supposed to finish almost closing the circle, leaving enough room for a fish to get its lips around the hook (don’t ask about fish lips; Deeann did, and it got pretty ugly). We did that. I was sitting between Avery and Deeann and kept looking at theirs to see if I was doing it right. We had three different shapes going there at one time.
By the end of an hour, Hagenbush had made five fish hooks; Avery had made a ring; Deeann had made a unicorn horn, just without the unicorn; I had made something that vaguely resembled a fish hook; and Becca won first place with a perfectly shaped small penis. She spent the rest of the evening sliding it in and out of her mouth while teasing Ralph. Next week we’re supposed to do an animal. I can’t decide between a worm and a clam.