Friday, July 07, 2006


June 25 2006
Sometimes – no make that often – football brings out the worst in any man. Okay, it brings out the worst in me pretty much all the time, and today is no different, because today, Italy could lose to rank outsiders Australia, and if this happens we will be treated to the sight of an entire nation – a particularly stylish and beautifully dressed nation – having a collective hissy fit to outlast the ages.

What makes this even better is that this is precisely what happened in the last World Cup, when Korea beat the Italians. The Italians have spent the intervening four years whining about that game, and will doubtless do so for years to come.

In World Cup terms, this is as good as it gets.

It starts out badly though. At 7:50am we drive to Taix, a local French restaurant. Their website says they have been in Los Angeles for three generations and that they are showing all the games. On the phone they confirm that they have been in Los Angeles for three generations and are showing all the games and serving breakfast. They have a monster sign over the doorway that says WE SHOW ALL WORLD CUP GAMES LIVE. Of course, they are closed.

If they were English I would accuse them of being sons of someone from somewhere. Because they are French, I have to admit they are stylish.

By this stage of the tournament though, Wife and I have the situation under control. We remain calm as we drive dangerously and at great speed through rush-hour traffic, down Hollywood Boulevard to Hollywood Billiards, and I perform an illegal U-turn across two lanes of oncoming traffic. “That,” says the Wife, “is the only time I have ever seen you do that.”

4 mins: Order breakfast. Fried dead beasts and eggs. Wife goes for coffee and toast. We are at that exhausted stage of the World Cup where weakness sets in: the Wife is off her feed, and clearly lagging now.

6 mins: Look around dim billiard room. There are 3 people here including a hot Italian woman drinking coffee at the end of the bar. Guess the World Cup didn’t quite take off in America this time. Same as last time then. And the time before that.

15 mins: A crack addict walks into the bar off the street, to general consternation. Turns out though he’s just some guy who has temporarily lost his life and has “watched all the soccer World Cup games so far, and I’m so glad to see that someone in America is showing the games.” No, maybe he is a crackhead.

33 mins: Wife sees Italian striker Toni and wakes up: “He’s way cute.”

34 mins: Discuss the hot Italian woman who stylishly downed her coffee and fled shortly after the crack addict-cum-football fan arrived and began drumming non-rhythmically on the counter top. Discuss Italians in general. Wife insists Italians are more beautiful than the French, but the French are stylish. Discuss why French not obese. Discuss magazine article I read which said French spend time eating; they never eat on the run. Wife fascinated. Make mental note to get my hair cut more often, then I can read more magazines and fascinate my wife more.

40 mins: Wife favours Australia because Italians are “bad sports” and “accused Korea of cheating” in World Cup 2002. Also because they sacked a Korean (Ahn Jung-hwan, he of the 70s porn-star hairdo, who scored the winner against Italy in 2002 and was promptly sacked by his team, Peruggia).

36 mins: Wife adds that the Italian team are overall hotter.

50 mins: Italian sent off. Pathetically, I cheer. Pathetically, so does the rest of the bar.

55 mins: Lots of close-ups of beautiful, well-dressed, persecuted Italian supporters. There are now 7 people in the bar. We laugh collectively.

65 mins: Wife analyses Australian team. Decides Cahill is cute. “Is he half-Indian?”

68 mins: “Aloisi,” says Wife, “is way cute.”

70-89 mins: Aussies extend the torture by keeping the ball. The game has perfection written all over it. Italians begin to look tired but still whine, and are still beautiful despite tiredness. In fact, tiredness looks good on them. Extra-time beckons, in which the Italians will be teased and tortured some more, made to look even more stylishly bedraggled, then put to the sword. Lingering close-ups of gorgeous well-dressed people gesticulating rudely in the stands. An entire nation, a nation with paranoia the size of a planet, is being tortured. All is well.

90 mins: Then the ref decides to play god. An Aussie falls over in the box, an Italian runs towards him, trips over him, and in a fit of pique throws himself manfully to the ground. The Italian raises himself on his knees and pleads. The Ref God gifts the Italians a penalty, which they duly score.

Full-Time: The bar is not happy. The Wife will get to check out the Italian team at least one more time, but she is not happy either. And I have not felt this irritated in a very long time, the result of having imminent pleasure delayed. Okay, I have felt this irritated in a very recent time, but cannot discuss that. However, I can comfort myself with the knowledge that pleasures delayed are pleasures intensified, and Italy’s demise is surely just around the corner. I have seen enough to know that this Italian team cannot win the World Cup, unless they buy it.

What’s that? Oh.