Sunday, January 23, 2011

It's Called "Soccer"

Oh, hey internet. You want me to tell you about my past couple of days? I guess I can do that if you really want me to. What's that? I'm "obviously running out of ways to begin posts?"... shut up.
So Friday. I don't have anything happening on Fridays, so the majority of the day was spent wasting time until I was going to meet up with some friends for dinner. My friend and I took busses to Waterloo again (SCORE for not getting lost) and met up with the guys. We then made our way to Ed's, an American-style 50's diner. Because obviously we're in London and we needed a unique cultural experience. It was actually really cute and fun, even if I did misunderstand the waitress and spend two pounds on water. Highlights: British Greg trying root beer and comparing it to cough syrup and also holding in my inappropriate jokes when they were discussing his hot dog. After the bouncer (why there was a bouncer/security guard at this diner, I will never know) let us out, we proceeded to an obscure candy shop that sells American and Japanese candy. After looking around and laughing at the expensiveness of the stuff (1.18 for one Twinkie that isn't even full sized?) the decision was made to take us around to the touristy places. In retrospect, it might not have been the smartest idea ever, considering it was night and actually very cold, but it was really fun nevertheless. If this was a video, this would be the place for a speedy photo montage. Oh, well. Trafalgar square was nice, even though we couldn't really figure out how to get on the lions (they are actually quite large). Then we hit up Buckingham Palace (after a stop into Cafe Nero to warm up a bit), which is really just a big rectangle and honestly not too impressive. After someone said they always kept a sniper on the roof, I got a little worried and tried to come off as unsketchy as possible, but also made sure to stand behind one of the guys just in case. Next stop was the area where the Prime Minister lives, which we couldn't really get into because there was a large gate with guards in front of his street. This led to a discussion of guns and bombs for some reason, which I calmly asked them to relocate to an area lacking men with artillery. Our last tourist stop was Big Ben and Parliament, which I was amused to find out has an actual, real pub inside. That's totally what Congress needs- a bar.
We hung around to hear Big Ben chime at the quarter hour, but it didn't and I felt cheated by England. We finished out the night at a pub, where we actually found a table after searching for a few minutes. This pub experience was much less embarassing for me, thanks mostly to the dinner aspect of earlier that evening. Riding the Tube back to King's Cross was absolutely miserable because there were delays in the train and after waiting for quite a while to even board, we were jam packed in one giant mass of humanity. Public transportation, you have failed me yet again.
The next day, I beheld the ultimate British experience: a soccer game. Now, there's been a lot of talk over the past year about soccer and how America hates it and blahblahblah but I really don't understand why. It is AWESOME. What part of screaming obscenities, rivalries, sports, and police in riot gear doesn't scream United States? Let's talk about the fans.
Say you're at Fenway. A few guys, maybe who have had a few, start chanting something pretty harmless. Maybe a few more pick it up, it goes on for maybe a minute if it's a really good one. This might happen a few times a game, maybe a little more, that's normal and adds to the experience. And then there's soccer.
At a soccer game, those few drunk guys are an entire section, and that chant is an elaborate song, which swiftly switches to a poem, which leads to expletive-filled mocking and name-calling, and all these guys are connected in this knowledge and create an unbreaking, perfect mass of slurred shouting. But they aren't the only ones. There's at least one other group that is exactly the same in method and practice. It's fantastic.
The game itself was impressive too, but what really made the experience was definitely the people in the stands. Highlights: A young boy trying to recreate what the two twenty-something guys there with him were shouting angrily, and our entire group standing when everyone else did and shouting even though we had no idea what the big deal was, or even if we were excited or angry -"Something happened, I don't know what, let's just point and yell!"
I think I love soccer.
FYI- I know it's called football here, but I'm not sure whether my being American and calling it that makes me pretentious or culturally aware. So I'm airing on the side of the arrogant American- "It's called SOCCER and I'm always freaking right. USA! USA!"

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