Please bear with me. This post is kind of about World Cup but not really. You'll see.
(YOU CAN'T GO! WHO WILL WATER THE PLANTS?)
Today was the World Cup Final and of course Spain won, so I was happy, because it fell under my Suebobian rule of "If you don't really care who is playing, root for the team with better-looking players." Sorry, Netherlands. Something about wearing wooden shoes has made their faces pinched and pasty.
Except maybe their goalkeeper, Maarten Stecklenburg. Ai yi yi:
Forgive me, Father, for I have done perved.
I was never into futbol before this World Cup. (I call it futbol because everyone else in the world calls it "football," not soccer, but if I say "football," everyone thinks of NFL, so this is my compromise. Works for me.)
I don't know what synapse snapped together in my head on June 11, but suddenly I couldn't stop thinking about World Cup. And the weird thing was that I was surrounded by futbol fans, but I had never noticed it before.
It was like I had walked through a secret door into another world - like my house had landed after a tornado and suddenly, everything was Technicolor instead of black and white.
With my World Cup fandom, I joined a new club. A club that consists of about 40% of the people on earth. I gained new friends all over the place.
The Nigerian security guards and I bonded over the knockout round. My cube neighbor, Tai, discovered me during the Round of 16. I trash-talked with a German guy in line at the grocery store. A girl in my class at church gave a dissertation on the storied career of Diego Maradona.
Everywhere I went, whenever I saw someone with a futbol jersey or t-shirt, I would start talking to them. Someone once told me that God gave us weather so that we would always have something to talk to strangers about. Now I have the weather AND futbol.
When I first started the month, I didn't even know how the tournament structure worked. I had heard futbol was "boring" and "slow" because there are so few goals scored in a game.
By the end, I - a former NBA fan who had to quit watching because I was getting horrible headaches from screaming too loud at televised games - realized that futbol is the most thrilling game on earth precisely because of the emphasis on quality of play, NOT on just scoring more than the other team.
Today, when I watched the finals, I was among the 25% of the people on earth seeing the game at that moment. It felt amazing - like I was suddenly a citizen of the world, bonded by this crazy love of the Beautiful Game, wishing for nothing more in that moment than to see some great play.
If you didn't watch the game, you can see all the highlights here.
Olé, Olé, Olé. I'll see you in Rio in 2014.
(p.s. My mom gave me money to buy a cute outfit for my birthday. She said "I hope you got something nice with your birthday money," and I had to admit "Yes, I did, Mom. I bought LA Galaxy tickets.")