A light look at social distancing

To quote a famous philosopher whose name I can’t remember right now: “Boy this is weird, am I right?”

These days, weeks and months of social isolation, masks, gloves, and scarfing a whole lot of snacks out of sheer boredom are certainly unprecedented and will go down in the history books for future generations to study, if there still are books in the future.

But we’re all wondering: what is the future going to be like? Like, the next week future? Like, when can I go and hug my mother-in-law or my elderly sister?

These are important questions, so it’s obviously time to consult our self-proclaimed expert, Dr. Reginald Smoot, untenured part-time professor of sociology, Carrot River University of Correspondence, Carrot River, Sask.

He’s now on screen on my worn out Zoom video communication app.

Hay’s Daze: “Welcome once again, sir. I hope you are keeping safe.”

Dr. Smoot: “Mmmmffff, nnnmmllll, laammmnnnffff!”

Hay’s Daze: “Um, is that a full-face scuba tank you’re wearing?”

Dr. Smoot: “(Mumble, mumble) There. It’s off now. Just practising good PPE protocol.”

Hay’s Daze: “But you’re home alone at your desk, do you really need th….”

Dr. Smoot: “As a leading sociologist, I’m finding it difficult to be anti-social. It’s like a mathematician without a blackboard, or a professional musician without a bassoon.”

Hay’s Daze: “Nobody plays a bassoon.

Dr. Smoot: “These are strange and confusing times, anything is possible. Even bassoons.”

Hay’s Daze: “OK, so let’s talk about social isolation and distancing. As someone who studies society, what effect do you think…”

Dr. Smoot: “Society will soon be obsolete.”

Hay’s Daze: “Pardon me?”

Dr. Smoot: “During this pandemic, people will find that they actually really enjoy wearing masks and keeping two metres apart. Therefore, everything in society will have to expand physically. Stores and restaurants will need to be five times larger; sports stadiums will have to remove every second and third seat. Even sidewalks will have to be widened to allow social distancing. Society will not, in effect, be social.”

Hay’s Daze: “Um, could I just take a quick peek at your credentials, Reg?”

Dr. Smoot: “And people will become enamoured with masks, and not just the medical kind. So much so, that it will eventually be like mass Halloween every day. And stop calling me Reg.”

Hay’s Daze: “That’s just silly, Smoot. What have you got in those scuba tanks of yours, nitrous oxide?”

Dr. Smoot: “I plan to get in on the new anti-society bandwagon early. As a respected sociologist, my insights will no doubt pay off as a leading entrepreneur in the evolving worldwide scenario. In other words, I’m going to make a ton of dough. And it’s Dr. Smoot, with a capital D.”

Hay’s Daze: “What on Earth are you on about, Reggie?”

Dr. Smoot: “As we speak, I’ve already ordered the manufacture of 100,000 six-foot poles and 200,000 random Halloween masks with built-in medical cloth. Once these are sold out (I’m thinking Calgary to start with), a million more of each will be ready for the rest of the world, and I’ll be able to retire and run my empire from lovely downtown Regina.”

Hay’s Daze: “Um, is this what happens when a so-called sociologist is removed from society, or are you as crazy as a Saskatoon loon?”

Dr. Smoot: “Can I put you down for, what, four two-metre poles and a half-dozen masks? Special discount, if you don’t tell anybody.”

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker.

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