Sunday, July 09, 2006

Soccer Is A Perfectly Cromulent Word

Germany and Nearby Countries

A World Cup volunteer told me that there were only 300 TST-7 tickets available for each of the 32 participant countries. I reckon the OC was pretty fortunate to get our grubby little hands on two of 'em. When we first go the confirmation email a year ago, I had to read it three times before I could believe that we were actually going to the final. From a global perspective, the World Cup final makes the Superbowl look like the Northeast Iowa Thumb Wrestling Regional Finals. I reckon it must be the world's single most widely watched television broadcast and the subject of more newsprint than all topics excepting perhaps phone sex.

The 2006 tournament was advertised as "a time to make friends". For us, it was really more of a time to catch up with old pals. Early on, we ran into fellow Caltech alumni Kevin B., Jason W., and Cynthia G. The latter two ducked out after the first round of 16 match and were replaced by the newly arrived Leo Rg. Both he and Kevin were fellow TST-7 holders, so we were with them off and on until the bitterly Italian end. Karoline and Sonja showed us a good time in and around Vienna and Beth S. was gracious enough to arrange free accommodation in her aunt's place near Kaiserslautern and travel with us a bit as well. We caught up with Leo Rs. and his Tokyo crew in Hamburg, were joined for the weekend by the lovely Katya, and also enjoyed the drunken company of the notorious Carl U. and an assorted cabal of Yankee extras in Dusseldorf. Falk U. came back with us from Amsterdam and went so far as to arrange for us and Troy to stay with his very gracious parents in Berlin. We also had the unexpected pleasure of seeing Andreas M., Max C., Martin C., and the one and only Nick H. for a few minutes before the final. After so many months on the road, it was a bit of relief to see so many familiar faces.

The European transit system was similarly welcome. A first class Eurail pass is about as far as you can get from a local Laotian bus service or a Brazilian river boat. And we made good use of those passes. The first major side trip was to Vienna and back for a wedding (discussed elsewhere). After the second Kaiserslautern match, we converted a couchette cabin into an American consulate. With five out of six beds filled with the OC, Kevin B., Leo Rg, and Beth S., we had just enough room left to watch Pulp Fiction on one a laptop before turning in for the night. The next morning found us in Copenhagen where we spent two days and an evening bopping around a lovely, if bleak, nordic city. Notable events included a street concert in a hippie "republic" and a show by Boss Hoss - perhaps the world's only country-style German pop cover band. Their version of "Hey Ya" alone was worth the price of admission. The final international road trip was the obligatory visit to Amsterdam where we reconnected with The Dykes, smoked some splif, and enjoyed one of the finest "beaches" in northern Europe before an excitedly blurry cycle road home.

I had been thinking that the OC would kind of wind down into a beer-soaked whimper, but it more spiraled up into a beer-soaked frenzy. It was an appropriately hectic conclusion to what has been a very busy year - the significance of which has been weighing a bit heavily upon me. So heavily, in fact, that the WC final was something of an anticlimax. Andreas M. commented over beers that we (the OC, that is - and Jason in particular) were notably serene in the face of so much energy and excitement. It is not that I did not have a good time, but I might very well have traded my ticket for another month in Africa or a chance to tour Central Asia. It is hard to get worked up about one thing in particular when there is so much left to see.


Blogger jason said...

I know it's been a while (almost a year? Fuck.), but I'm just finishing up re-reading all the blog entries, and I ran across this one. In particular, I want to point out Mike's last paragraph. I don't know why I never noticed it before; Truer words were never spoken.

All during the World Cup, I was trying to figure out why I wasn't nearly as excited as I should have been, and Mike's last words here perfectly encapsulate why. It was, strangely, an anticlimax. There were (and still are) so many more things in the world to discover. It was hard to get hyped about paying $1000 USD to watch some dudes kicking balls around when I could have spent that money and time exploring same other corner of the earth.

On the other hand, I did gain some football cred, and that shit's like gold out in the real world (US excluded).

4/12/2007 12:52 AM gmt

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4/08/2022 5:06 PM gmt

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