Monday, July 24, 2006


When World Cup 2006 began, I resolved to suspend my lifelong ambivalence toward spectator sports that don’t involve Asian men kicking each other in the heads, and devote my considerable energies toward supporting Spain’s national team. 

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.


At 10:53 PM, Blogger Franje said...

Your buttocks are cursed!

At 3:02 PM, Blogger ironporer said...

OK, now we know who's fault it was... had you not tuned in the game, Los Gabachos de Mierda otherwise known as the French would have gone down 4-0 to the Españoles!!
You, like Steve B. will be forced to move- not to Flordia as Steve was rumoured to have done, but to become an outcast, a man without a country.

Hey- did you hear that Donald trump is said to be ready to purchase the Cubbies? Don't know if that's a good thing (will he be like a George Steinbrenner and buy a team?) or bad (he and all his family will sink into a Cub induced funk, ending up bankrupt and homeless, wandering around Wacker Ave with a shopping cart full of empty milk jugs and sundry garbage).

As all true Cub fans are trained to say...There's always next year!!

At 4:51 PM, Blogger woman wandering said...

A lovely piece of writing Sal ... I was quite quite carried along by it :)

At 7:26 PM, Blogger CanadianSwiss said...

I hope that you don't have too many locals reading your post, otherwise, you're in big trouble causing them to loose!

At 1:25 AM, Blogger The Big Finn said...

Pick up the blogging pace, my man! I'm needing a Sal fix!

At 3:59 AM, Blogger El Casareño Ingles said...

I sympathize greatly - I seem to have a similar effect on the England team. Thank God that expectations for them were so low.

check out this hilarious take on the headbutt -

At 5:58 PM, Blogger woman wandering said...

Sal ... I agree with Big Finn.

My need for a Sal fix is complicated by a desire to move on from my boring comment on this post.

I enjoyed your writing, yes no doubt about it but 'could I have written my compliment anymore boringly??????!'

Come back ... push reality away for a moment, satisfy the needs of your readership.

Gooooooooooooooooooooo Sal!

At 6:26 PM, Blogger Angie said...

LOL at Ironporer (and Sal, of course)...

I'd hate to see The Trump buy the Cubs. I'm sick of seeing the guy on TV all the time anyway, but to have to deal with him constantly connected to my team would be too much. Although I did like the imagery, Ironporer... I was picturing Trump's nasty hair blowing straight up in the wind as he's meandering down Wacker. (Sidenote -- Best street name, ever.)

But, I digress, back to the Spanish futbol. Despite the Cubs-like implosion, my crush on Iker Casillas lives on.

Also, folks, give Sal a break on the lack of blogging... that Patxarán is potent stuff, and surely some recovery time is necessary!

At 1:14 PM, Blogger Mrs. TBF said...

Angie - you hit the nail right on the head! The first thing I thought of too was Trumps bad hair blowing in the wind at Wrigley! Not a pretty sight at all.
Sal - never mind TBF...he get's a little out of control sometimes.

Back to world cup - once the US was eliminated, I started to support the Italians (my own heritage). Lucky for me, all the French guys I work with took it pretty well when I started threatening to head butt them. Now they owe me lunch for the Italy win. Hee hee.

At 4:51 PM, Blogger Angie said...

Sal, pull yourself away from the Patxarán bottle for a few minutes to practice your head-butting technique:
(If you aim for Materazzi's foul mouth, you score higher points! I haven't had so much fun since the haggis bashing!)

At 6:38 PM, Blogger christina said...

Just imgagine the adorable Mrs. TBF head butting a big French guy!

And Angie always finds the best games.

At 2:13 PM, Blogger GC PHILO said...

That was a great post ... and a great match. Too bad you missed most of it! But its hard from us lowly NorteAmericanos to get into the game, now isnt it?

At 6:08 PM, Blogger Cynthia Rae said...

This post put a smile on my face because I also hold super natural powers that can change the course of a game. ANYTIME I root for a team, they lose. I like to think that the only reason Italy won the World Cup was because I, Cynthia Rae, showed no interest in any of the games. Had I rooted for Italy, they would have lost during the first match.

I did tune in to watch the final game. While I sat in bed with eyes glued to the tv, the score remained even with France. Lucky for Italy, I fell asleep without warning and Italy won the game during the 20 mins I didn't watch!

What we must remember Sal, is that with great powers come great responsibilities!


At 4:11 PM, Blogger ironporer said...

Alright, from Sal's extended leave of absence (unauthorized leave I might add... he was never given permiso from his blog-buddies) It is clear that he has been kidnapped- most likely by a rabid faction of the Peña La Mancha Futbol Fans, or perhaps even the local 'La Mancha Libre" sepratist movement.
In order to free him, it may be necessary to pay a ransom for his release. I for one am willing to do my part- and herby offer to contribute 2 slabs of hickory-apple smoked pork ribs and 2 butts, along with copious amounts of mustard based or red. If they want potato salad or baked beans, I will require a proof of life at a minimum.

I realise that Sal's callous inattention to the Mundial certainly was his own doing- and broadcasting across the universe on his blog for all to see may not have been the wisest choice, however it is time we unite to free him, and get his ass back here posting.

At 12:05 AM, Blogger Angie said...

Ironporer - You forget, it's August in Spain. Sal has joined with his compatriots in taking the month off work! (We should all be so lucky.) When in Rome...


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