Monday, June 26, 2006


Woke up early yesterday morning, too excited to sleep at the prospect of catching my first live match in days, even if I wasn't so excited about the two teams in question. Lost interest in the slaughter of Sweden after about 40 minutes (while the scoreline does not necessarily reflect that they were slaughtered, they started to play like they had been), wandered off to exchange trash talking emails with my friend whom you may have seen around here bearing the sobriquet Chigger Christ. He supports Germany, for heaven's sake (and you think you know a person).

Walked downtown to hop a fareless Max over to Lloyd Center and legged it to Costello's Travel Cafe for Argentina v. Mexico (about a fifteen minute walk, this portion of the post brought to you by the Cheapskate's Guide to Traveling to World Cup Venues in the Portland Area). Costello's was too packed to even stand without interrupting someone's line of sight, so I wandered a few doors down to the more subdued Rose & Thistle (nice place, decent TV, good Guinness, very nice staff, about twenty amiable spectators down to ten by the time we went into overtime).

It pained me to root against Mexico, but I do love Argentina (a team I hated in their match against Mexico in last year's Confederation's Cup, by the way, because I am a fickle, fickle girl) and let's face it--Mexico has little chance of stopping the relentless onslaught of Sexy Jurgen's lads (thanks, Zach. I am unable to look at this man now without saying "Sexy Jurgen!" to myself, at least, or worse, to whoever happens to be sitting next to me), while I believe Argentina can. Of all the teams with a real chance to hoist the Cup, Germany is the one team I will be disappointed to see in the final round. I might be able to resign myself to it were it the great Oliver Kahn in the net this year, but the presence of Lehmann only adds insult to injury.

It's not even that I dislike them so much as I am just bored by their style--that of a relentless, powerful machine. Sure, under Klinsmann's attacking tutelage they're more entertaining than in years past (although putting it that way is kind of like saying, "My, your cooking tastes better than cardboard!"). It's certainly impressive, but somehow it leaves me feeling vaguely depressed. They play soccer like they're getting a job done, with efficiency and strength but little visible joy. Let's indulge in a little cultural stereotyping for a moment, shall we? They play soccer in a way that seems so . . . so German.

The funny thing is, I would characterize my general disposition toward Germany as one of warm sentiment. My father was stationed there for four years in his Army days and I grew up hearing stories about the country that was clearly the setting for some of the happiest days of his life. I still own his old battered German phrasebooks and language primers that I used to thumb through in fascination as a child, a symbol for me of foreign (and hence magical) lands. And then there's my last name. Somewhere along the way, I'm told, we lost the umlaut--there's no mistaking where that came from.

A couple of anecdotal and therefore entirely unreliable observations about Germans: A friend of my two Irish roommates, when I was living in Dublin many years ago, came home for a visit from Germany, where she worked, and I remember them telling me that she hated it there because she found Germans to be really boring. And I quote: "Because when they go to parties, all they want to do is stand around and talk about politics." Sounds grim, no?

And this: Derek and I have this good friend who's German. He used to live here in Portland, and he's since gone home, and I still miss him--we used to have a lot of fun, the three of us, staying out much too late, shutting down the bars, talking for hours, ordering one round after another. What did we talk about, all those late nights?

Well, uh, I remember a lot of passionate talk about politics. It seemed really fun at the time.

I'm not sure what the moral of this story is, except that maybe I hate what I am? I have nothing against Germany in general, I just hate their soccer? And that watching Germany play soccer makes me feel like I'm standing in the middle of the road with a semi-truck bearing down on me: simultaneously awestruck and hopeless in the face of unstoppable fate.

I hope someone can change fate.

1 comment:

Chigger Christ said...

ah, you've truly become a self-loathing Teuton. And how can you say the German squad is joyless? If Sexy Jurgen dancing like a marrionette stricken with a palsy after his boys triumphed over the Swedes didn't make your cheeks ache, then i'm afraid, meine Frau, that you have a cactus where your heart should be.

But i will allow that my Austrian blood may confer to me a taste for strident beauty. Like Ahnold