Monday, June 26, 2006

Fever pitch

The last time I watched the World Cup, I was 12 or 13 years old. I spent half my summer parked in front of the television, rabidly lapping up every game Italy played. Roberto Baggio was my hero, scraggly rat-tail hair and all. I spent my allowance on official Cup gear (I still have that somewhere), and I still remember being down on my knees about two feet from the screen, begging Baggio to hit that last penalty shot, sitting stunned when he failed and the Cup went to whoever the hell they were playing. I was still an aspiring defender myself, and I've always harbored a love for football that most people in the States don't understand.

It's happening all over again, except this time I'm addicted to all of it. Every game, every analysis, every single dribble, pass and shot. I realized this quickly on Saturday, when husband and I seriously contemplated ditching our anniversary plans to stay crammed into our smoky, spot at the Isaac Newton so we could finish up the Mexico-Argentina match. (Mexico lost, hijo de puta!) Fortunately, our stomachs won out because we've sadly learned that man cannot subsist on ale and stout alone -- but as we settled into our intimate, romantic meal at one of the town's nicest restaurants, I said it seemed perfect...and husband leaned over and said, "Now, if only we had the match on."

Yes, we are absolutely addicted. The bloody, bare knuckles Portugal-Holland game? Saw it. The somewhat boring English games? Check. The absolutely edge-of-your-chair Latin American matches? Oh yes. We caught all of America's brief three games, except the Czech Republic match which I think I'm glad to have missed. We spent our US-Italy match in the company of a good friend from back home, who in turn spent most of the match on his feet alternatively spewing invectives and screaming encouragement, slapping the table and egging on other viewers...all of whom looked completely bewildered to see some crazy tall American guy having fits over a football match. I think the Italians would have knifed him on the way out if he hadn't been so congenial after every insult. What do we talk about now over dinner preparations? Bad referees, the comparative styles of Latin American and European football, the hopelessness of the USA team...even my Scots friend says we're a bit off our rockers, but she's just annoyed that her British occupiers are still in it.

It also says something that I'm choosing to fill you in on my football fanaticism instead of talking about the much-anticipated May Ball or the ensuing week o'chaos. Naturally, I'll watch the England-Portugal match (and Germany-Argentina, and Italy-Ukraine and hopefully Ghana-Spain but probably Brazil-Spain) this weekend and scream my lungs out for gutsy, gritty Portugal, despite the fact that doing so in an English pub legalizes my immediate death. If I don't come back, the hooligans probably stuffed me into a pint glass and threw me at nearest goal post.

1 comment:

kristy said...

"Man cannot live on ale and stout alone"??? That's not funny.