Culture & Conversation

We are alive

Egyptian soccer fans celebrate after a win over Algeria. Photo by Asmaa Waguih, Creative Commons.

Egyptian soccer fans celebrate after a win over Algeria. Photo by Asmaa Waguih, Creative Commons.

The following article was originally published on Burns the Fire. It has been republished with permission of the author.

There’s a mad woman in the café where I write who looks like Sarah Silverman with a bitchin tan and she’s yelling, swearing, tweeting, shooting espresso and vaping up a shit-storm as the Germans wipe the sorry ass of her beloved Portuguese at the FIFA World Cup. I would not want to be the electronic cigarette in her mouth or the customer whose balls she just hacked down to size. Make no mistake, this is her show. After a resounding vai te foder to her opponents, she caught me staring, all goofy, and the fury in her face softened, sorry sorry, she said, all gruff, and I know she meant it. She may dish it out, but when she’s gone too far, she can apologize, too. That’s good sportsmanship.

I tell her I enjoy watching her (and her swinging ponytail) more than the game. She tells me she friggin misses ’86 when the shorts were short and the socks were tall. So she’s funny, too, but you don’t want to cross her. When her team lost, the Germans are going down, she cried.

Inspiration strikes. Sports ignite a raw emotion in its fans that is so much more compelling to me than the game. If only we could harness the energy, sidestep the violence and use it all for some greater good. Can’t we?

It was the 2006 World Cup, my husband was in the hospital, in terrific pain. The morphine helped but his body and soul freaking rallied when a game was on. His curtained-off bed and its 5-inch TV became game central international. It brought everyone together. Orderlies, doctors, nurses and house-cleaners from every corner of the world flocked to the virtual soccer stadium of his souped-up mattress, to catch up on the latest. Mounting excitement broke through the sights, sounds and smells of the hospital, broke through its worst shit – class divisions and power struggles; broke through the fear, the loss, the sadness and pain.

Vai te foder! We are alive.

I sat at the edge of the hospital chair, laughing and crying, and watched my husband’s face as he bolted up, shouting for joy when his beloved team scored.


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