WORLD CUP FEVER: I *ALMOST* CAUGHT IT!
The idea struck me as a good one. I am, after all, going to be living here for awhile...and World Cup season—particularly in a football-mad country like this one—is something to behold. The entire nation seems to go through a transformation.
For one thing, it’s the only time that the population pulls its Spanish flags out of the closet and shows a bit of patriotism. For one month every four years, bars, cars and bare-chested drunks are adorned in the red and yellow banner. In this sense, the atmosphere is a lot like in the United States when it’s lobbing large bombs at small nations. The only things missing are beer bellies and pick-up trucks.
Furthermore, productivity comes to a halt during each day that Spain’s national team is scheduled to play. Except in the services sector, where productivity never really caught-on in the first place.
In any event, I wanted to reach out and grab a bit of World Cup fever for myself. And I would do so just as soon as it were clear that the Spanish team would advance to the second round. After all, each team plays three games in the first round and—at ninety minutes per game—I certainly wasn’t going to make that kind of time investment. You know, based on the team’s history and all.
But alas, Spain played brilliantly in all three of those games—or so I read on the BBC’s website—against teams representing nations in varying states of poverty or dictatorial rule. So, when the Spanish team easily advanced to the second round and I had surfed enough websites predicting that they were actually good enough to win the whole damn tournament, I was ready to join the party. And the next party would take place on 27 June, when Spain was scheduled to thrash a squad of old age pensioners from France.
Despite my good intentions, however, I…sort of…forgot about the game when 27 June rolled around. When I finally came to my senses and clicked-on the television, it was nearly half-time—and Spain was leading France 1-0.
“Woooooohoooo!!!” I shouted in my thick American accent, as I lowered myself into a leather chair.
And at the precise moment that my buttocks touched the cushion, do you know what happened? France scored a goal. They tied the game...just seconds before half-time was called.
I found this a little disturbing. Spain had been thoroughly kicking ass during its prior three hundred fifteen minutes of World Cup play—i.e., three hundred fifteen minutes during which I was either reading a book or mowing the lawn. And now, this! Was it an unfortunate coincidence? Or had I jinxed the team?
It is well-established that Spain is the Chicago Cubs of the World Cup; but could it be that, in addition, I was Spain’s Steve Bartman?
I quickly purged my mind of such silly superstitions, and resolved to cheer-on the team twice as hard during the game’s second half.
But first, there was this small matter of half-time.
If there is an occupational hazard of being an attorney, it’s that you’re always on the lookout for loopholes. And I decided that my steely resolve to become a die-hard World Cup football fan need not necessarily apply to half-time. After all, there technically isn’t any football taking place during half-time.
So I decided to take advantage of this half-time downtime by firing-up my Mac Mini and initiating a brief webcam video chat with a friend in Amsterdam who had just had his first baby.
Unfortunately, that “brief” video chat ended roughly two hours later.
Feeling drained after the long ordeal of having to make interesting conversation without the aid of a keyboard, I turned-off my computer and went straight to bed.
And as I was laying in bed, I suddenly realized something important. I had forgotten to check the score and see who won the game.
But I didn’t need to check. I had lived in Spain long enough to know the outcome intuitively.
I heard no screaming in my neighborhood.
I heard no honking horns.
I heard no endless strings of firecrackers.
This sort of deafening silence could only be provoked by one thing. And that’s the national team’s elimination from the World Cup tournament.