Not the Usual World Cup Story, Hahahahaha!
I’m about to admit something that might piss-off some of you, but take it for what it is and try not to judge me. (Hahahahaha!)
I grew up in a household of women. I had three sisters, a mother, a grandmother, a bitch of a dog (who had four puppies, all females) and one lonely father who didn’t know what to do with any of us. He was a man’s man and would sit in his recliner chair in front of the TV watching sports, while having earphones plugged into his ears connected to a small transistor radio to listen to another game. (I never understood how he did that.) He boxed when he was young and played baseball with the guys at the Jewish Community center in New Orleans.
We women, on the other hand, did all the traditional things women did: sew, knit, crochet, needlepoint, etc., not paying one bit of attention to sports. In high school, I might have attended one or two football games with my college-age boyfriend, but that was the extent of it. My husband played tennis almost every day, but in 20 years I never watched him play a single match.
In fact, I have always thought it pretty idiotic for grown men to chase a ball around a field, beat themselves up, get hurt pretty bad on too many occasions, all for the sake of winning the competition, for what reason I never understood. Winning in this way is (in my opinion) all about ego and I never wanted a part of that kind of ego, to prove that one person or team is better than another. How about just competing with oneself to better oneself rather than being better than the other person? That’s how I saw it.
As I said from the beginning, you probably weren’t going to like this admission or agree with me, but that’s the way it is, take it or leave it. This comes from a person who failed swimming at summer camp, got hurt in PE every time the theme of sport changed from gymnastics, to volleyball to golf or whatever was on the agenda and only barely mastered bike-riding. Even when I tried iceskating, I immediately sprained both ankles and they had to carry me off the rink. I was a sad klutz when it came to sports and decided that mental sports were quite another thing worth doing. Exercising one’s brain and building that kind of muscle became way more important, interesting and exciting, than chasing an inanimate object around for no reason whatsoever other than to “win.”
So, naturally, the World Cup has held no interest for me whatsoever. I didn’t even know there was a game last night and who was playing. I didn’t care. I made no plans to watch it. One friend, at yesterday’s Après Midi — where Kathleen Spivack spoke about her books and her experience as an author, poet, teacher, etc. — asked me “Where are you going to see the game?” To which I replied a shorter version of what I just admitted, about how I didn’t care about it one iota.
She was shocked and appalled. “But it’s France! Aren’t you going to root for the home team!? It’s so important!”
That led to my feeling guilty about my own indifference to the big World Cup match and with another friend, Janet Hoover, who feels much like I do and was having her own guilty pangs, decided to have dinner at a café where we could watch the game and get into the action…at least in some way.
Hahahahaha! As we ventured out into her neighborhood in the 2nd arrondissement, where rues Turbigo, Etienne Marcel, Saint-Denis and Pierre Lescot converge and are overwhelmed by cafés, we saw that every café had managed to install a TV screen, even the tiniest of spots including Gyro stands. Not only was there not a seat to be had, but it was SRO and that meant standing on just about anything to see the screens. A group of guys were perched on bikes that had been arranged like a pyramid to support them. Girls were perched on chairs. People were standing inside of planter boxes among the shrubs, just to get a better look at the match.
Beer was being poured, but the waitstaff were too busy serving it up to actually deal with food. The screams could be heard with every play — cheering or booing. Streets were blocked. Cars and motorbikes were whizzing by decorated with balloons or streamers in blue, white and red. Fans had the blue, white and red stripes of the French flag on their cheeks. No doubt, they were seriously in the mood, while we were not.
We opted, instead, for a quiet Thai dinner in a little restaurant on rue Tiquetonne where we could actually hear ourselves think and talk, while hearing the noise on the street outside in the background. We figured we’d know if France was winning or losing from the kind of sounds that came from the fans. After dinner, the game was still in full swing, and the crowds had increased. It was an obstacle course to walk down rue Tiquetonne without stumbling over the fans who were sitting directly on the cobblestones of the street. Getting into her own door was near to impossible (so that she could grab the jacket she had left behind, since the cool winds were picking up).
For an after dinner coffee we wandered around looking for another quiet spot to land and only found one — La Poulette, where there was only one table occupied and we could sit at their beautiful bar. A few minutes later we heard the roar outside and knew in an instant that France had won against Brussels. That’s when we headed out to face the music of the excitement.
I’ve never seen Paris quite so insane. Even trash-collector truck drivers were honking…loudly I might add. Ambulances couldn’t get down the streets for the hordes of people. People were arm in arm as they walked home and groups gathered at the cafés were singing the Marseillaise and other French songs. I wandered home as others were doing taking in the revelry, but still feeling like, “so what?” The biggest question in my mind was whether the noise on the streets would continue making it difficult to sleep. I popped in ear plugs just to be sure.
This morning, my daughter ventured out of her room while I was writing this. I asked her where she had been for the game. She replied, “I was near Cadet and walked all the way home. It was so crazy out there. Place de la République was like a sea of monkeys. Men were climbing on poles with excitement. I don’t understand what happens to men when they watch sports! They become animals!”
All I could do was chuckle. “I see you and I are in total agreement!”
For some great photos of what took place here in Paris last night, visit france24.com/en/slideshow/.
For those of you who care a whole lot more than I do, here’s the upcoming schedule:
Wednesday, July 11
Croatia vs England
2 p.m. New York / 8 p.m. ParisThird-place match
Saturday, July 14
Match #61 Loser vs Match #62 Loser
10 a.m. New York / 4 p.m. Paris
2018 World Cup Final
Sunday, July 15
France vs Match #62 Winner
11 a.m. New York / 5 p.m. Paris
France, congratulations for winning this match against Belgium. We’re proud of you…I suppose! Now, let’s see if you can go for the gold and win the World Cup on Sunday! If that happens, all of France is really going to lose their minds!
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
P.S. If you’re like me, then you might be more interested in hearing all about Kathleen’s Spivack’s wonderful talk at Après Midi and see the photos, so click here