the rules of the game

If this doesn't just about sum up the difference between boys and girls. She's expanding her mind with a worthy piece of literature, as she gazes over at the Object of Her Affection. But he doesn't notice, because he is immersed in an article about..

Yup: that's right. The World Cup.

England vs. United States, tomorrow night. Everything will stop.

Thinking back to four years ago: I happened to be in Italy, on a lake. Salvatore and Valeria rent a summer place, half an old crumbling villa outside Rome, and we were with a large group of friends, watching the game, live, along with the rest of the town, it seemed, projected onto a sheet hung between two trees holding up the wicker roof of the one restaurant on the lake. Italy against France.

Valeria is a lawyer, a wise woman and true friend, and yet, between us, we couldn't figure out what the hell was going on, and everyone else was too excited to explain the rules of the game. We were kind of speculating ('What was that? Was that a point?' 'I think it was a penalty.' 'What's a penalty?' 'No idea.') Everyone was screaming, cursing in Italian, people jumping up and down. People screaming at them to stop blocking the screen. Even their daughter Marcella, and Luigi and Guilia's daughter Eleanora, understood the game better than we did. All this going on, of course, in Italian. Valeria was the only human being unhysterical enough to speak to me in English.

Suddenly, a French guy kind of head butted an Italian guy, and THAT we understood: game over. Italy beat France. It was like the end of World War II. I found myself being bear-hugged by the little wife of the restaurant owner, lifted off the ground, and suddenly there were fireworks, horns blowing.. I was in the midst of one of those charming Italian films.

Can someone tell me: what is it about boys, and their balls?


jungleworldcitizen said...

I must say that I'm with the boys on this one :)
As a Brazilian who is living in Germany (both countries INSANE about football) I love it! I love it to the point that during the world cup I hate the Argentian team and its fans (historical rivalry), even though I'm not xenophobic AT ALL! lol
Tomorrow night it's going to be interesting, my hubby is American, but since I do understand about what he insists on calling soccer more than he does, I know that the English team is better. But I hope the US beat their booties and give us all a pleasant surprise! :)

jungleworldcitizen said...

I meant Argentinian :D

jill said...

jungleworldcitizen: Fabulous comment! I think part of the reason it's become such a big deal this time is - just as you said, you're, for example, a Brazilian living in Germany married to an American. Compared to, say, 10 years ago, and thanks to the internet, we are really just one big global village now.

For America, it used to be that the biggest deal was the (American) football.. ha! I'm blanking on the annual event! I can't think of any other phrase than 'World Cup.' I guess what I'm trying to say is, America isn't as insulated as it was: people travel more, and we all live in other countries than we were born in. And that is so wonderful!!

I don't know which side I"m on, but I hope we'll watch it somewhere public. I just better not open my mouth and let my accent give me away, or they might just kill me if, indeed, US does beat their british booties! ; )

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Anonymous said...

you know, im with the guys on this one too. its not neccessarily the intricacies of the game that gets me, it's the fact that all of these countries are rallying together for this one event, kind of like the olympics. And where else are you going to see people who grew up in slums and were not formally trained compete on the same level as those who have been formally trained. Look at drogba, he was able to basically end his country's civil war through his fame as a soccer (football) player, and he started in a small, previously insignificant town in Ivory Coast. Sorry if this is a little heavy but I like to think of the World Cup as one of the few things that brings literally everyone together.

And yes there are quite a few cute players which makes it that much better :)

jill said...

I agree, Anonymous. I couldn't believe how moved I was to be in Italy and have that experience. I started the night feeling cynical (and clueless) about sport, and was moved beyond words by the end of the night.

No need to apologise: it's a beautiful comment, thank you. And yes, some of the players really are cute ; )

ree said...

I have to say that the World Cup does make you see people in a different light. Lots of the men I know become so childlike and excited when they talk about it that it's totally heartwarming. I don't understand football at all but I can sense the passion that it sparks in people. My mum, who is 71, is a complete football fanatic which I find hilarious! She truly loves it. Maybe it's easier if you understand it?!

Wonderful photos again. Loved it XXX

Shini said...

I'm with jungleworldcitizen - absolutely for the World Cup, spent the majority of middle school playing goalkeeper at the boyz game and I can't count how many times I got punched in the face by the ball... I still think I prefer that version of men & their balls ;)

I do love your story though, doesn't matter if you knew the rules are for the game or who's who (I believe the dude who headbutted the Italian is the notorious Zidane; hunk, if I may say so) at the end of the day you're still part of the party!

You should've seen how the 2002 World cup looked in Korea! http://www.studentsoftheworld.info/sites/sport/img/25674_1150281723_602904_kyungkug_298731_1[475598].jpg

ediot said...

haha. your blog is just brilliant.ok.
i dont get the football(s) thingy either. haha


Mlle W said...

your last comment is priceless...♥

I am so glad to escape from this whole men-footie period by reading other likeminded bloggers and their un-fascination about soccer...yey.

It makes a good girly girl time, when the men are too distracted about their teams, plays and...balls...

jungleworldcitizen said...

Hahaha :) We're going to see it on an American military base, which means 99% Americans in there, so I better keep a low profile as well :D
I told the hubby that I was going to start talking with a british accent (half of my studies on the English language were by a british school, the other half by an American one, so I like to think I can switch). :) He begged me not to, LOL.
I wouldn't, I hope his team does well ;)
Let us know how the game went on your side of the globe. :)

Matthew Spade said...

those football horns are the bain of my life at the moment

Anonymous said...

My lord, that is exactly like me and my fella. Always transfixed on the back pages of the newspaper! I was also in Rome on a school trip during that World Cup, in a hotel room watching it. I was given the chance to go watch it with some 'real' Italians, but decided to let other people go since I wasn't a huge fan of football. I regret it now, the atmosphere would've been amazing!