In fifth grade, our P.E. teacher took us down to the football field one day and tried to talk us into playing soccer. The only rule we were told was “Don’t touch the ball with your hands.” For the next 40 minutes, we played some combination of kickball, flag football, and Lord of the Flies. And after Soccer Week was done, we filed that game away with the metric system and got on with our lives.
Well, things have changed in my life, to put it mildly. After eight years with a Brasilian, I have learned to holler at futebol the same way I holler at football. But watching soccer is EXHAUSTING. Here are a few reasons why:
1. I don’t know where to look. With football or basketball, my brain knows how to follow the ball. With soccer, that ball could go anywhere at any time–backwards, forwards, up or down. I can’t even blink or I’ll miss the Big Shot.
2. It never slows down. This isn’t the good old “first down, let’s show a Budweiser commercial while they move the chains” kind of football. These players run for 90 minutes straight. A midfielder can run 10 miles in the course of a game. Flat out, backwards, forwards, up and down.
3. The hotness never lets up. I mean, have you seen these fine men? No helmets hiding their beautiful faces, filled with intensity. They’re not wrapped up in pads and those shirts get sweaty with a quickness so there’s a surplus of curvaceous musculature on display. From the back, from the front, up and down.
4. Futbol is serious business in Brasil. Y’all know how it gets between Auburn and Alabama or Army and Navy? Yeah, that’s NOTHING compared to the way Brasilians live for futbol. G gets kind of crazy every four years. He made himself sick this weekend in that game against Chile. He wears his official canary-yellow jersey to work if there’s a game that day. He won’t wash it during the tournament. Seriously, the other day he had taken it off and left it lying on the sofa. Carlos picked it up and was using it to smack at stuff. G came in the den and yelled, “RESPECT THE STARS!!!”
4a. Stars, you ask? Each time a country wins the World Cup, the team adds a star to its official jersey. Brasil has won the World Cup five times (a feat only recently tied by Italy…who’s already been eliminated this year, so Brasil has a shot at pulling ahead again).
4a1.CORRECTION: I have been schooled by no less than 3 Brasilians on this mistake. To quote G: “Brasil is the ONLY country to win five. We are also the only country to have played in every World Cup. Italy has FOUR…four. We have FIVE. Five!” All of this said with his fingers used as illustration, as if he was teaching me that A is for apple and B is for buffoon.
4b. G is considering getting the CBF (the official governing body of soccer in Brasil) logo tattooed over his heart, but he wants to wait for the six-star design after they win this year. He has the children’s names on his arm…and would put Brasilian futebol over his heart. Priorities.
5. I can’t even learn the rules from listening to the commentary. He prefers to watch the World Cup on Univision or other Spanish-language channels because it’s…better. So I’m watching a game I don’t understand in a language I don’t speak well enough to follow. This is what a game sounds like to me after three years of high school Spanish and 1000 episodes of Dora the Explorer:
…..ball…..team…backpack?…ball…..no…Benecio del Toro…..can….yes…time…ball….head….shoe…ball…time…ball…. GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!
It’s wonderful to be part of something that brings the world together. Even if most of the world goes home in tears. Go Brasil!
P.S. He just came home from work with a surprise for Vivi. It’s a picture of Pele the Great. I shit you not. She dropped her Barbie and went to hang it in her room.