Prunes and Prism

RULES FOR YOUNG LADIES: Some arch advice on snagging a husband. Exercising the mouth into a pretty shape through repetition of certain words seems to have been an indoor sport for young nineteenth-century girls; in Little Dorrit, Charles Dickens' overly bred girl repeats, "papa, potatoes, poultry, prunes and prism." (

Monday, July 10, 2006

Winner Takes All

In my tender formative years, one Sunday just as Alabama had Lost the Game, one of my father's co-workers called up and asked me to put him on the phone. The guy on the other end was positively tight with glee, and I figure he was either an Auburn fan, or Daddy had bet him money, or both. Either way, I had the unenviable task of knocking on the door of the room where Daddy had barricaded himself with his tiny TV.

"Phone," I said.

"Tell him I died," Daddy said.

So I knew a man could get in a real swirling, sucking eddy of despair over the outcome of a sporting event.* But still I was not prepared for the Comradely gloom and annihilation that met me when I came home yesterday, two hours after the World Cup.

I suggested that maybe -- since it was, after all, the World Cup and the last 15 minutes of our boyfriend Zidane's career -- it, strictly speaking, might not have been the thing to do, clocking that Italian guy in the chest with his bare, bald head and knocking him to the ground.

I was roundly dismissed on the grounds that (1) we don't know what that Italian said, and he doubtless had it coming, (2) exceptions should be made for genius, and (3) what do Americans know? Number 3 was never explicitly stated, but baby, was it ever implied. It was almost enough to send me to the couch with an ice pack, to watch Working Girl. Never mind; it was enough.

I happened to be on a school trip in Munich when Holland won the 1988 Euro Cup. The event left a great impression on a young girl: the beer, the body paint, the carousing, the free-form vomiting. I was sure it was the closest I'd ever come to Sodom and Gomorrah. The next day the whole city smelled like lager and the fans, still drunk, rocked our tour bus back and forth while we sat, thrilled, inside.

I've been careful to arrange my life in a way that will require me to have as little to do with sports as possible, so I can't say there's a madness that's unique to soccer.** Nevertheless it is tempting, when one is resigned to watching Melanie Griffith take over Trask Industries through the eyeholes in a gel mask, to draw those kinds of conclusions.

* I'm sure this could happen to women too, but I've never lived with one of those women.

**On a separate but not unrelated note, it was only yesterday that I realized the soccer players aren't the only ones out there grabbing each other's asses. Baseball and football players, I was told, do this all the time.


Blogger Recovering Baptist said...

I just read that the italian player admitted insulting Zidane but assures the public that he didn't call him a terrorist because, "I don't even know what a terrorist is." Not sure I'd admit that even if it were true. I'm on the angry frenchy's side. That head butt was pretty cool.

Isn't is wonderful how soccer can pull the whole world together in brotherhood and unity?

3:08 PM  
Blogger frostine99 said...

It really is the beautiful game!

I *heard* that "I don't know what a terrorist is."

It reminds me of this joke my friend's dad used to tell, and I wish I could remember it but it involved a church full of people making increasingly mortifying confessions, until one guy comes out with something so obscene that there's a silence and then the minister says, "Brother, I wouldna told that." Have you ever heard it? Anybody?

12:00 AM  

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