My exhausting scholarly obligations have been keeping me not only from this blog (eagerly awaited by my faithful mystery readers in Brazil, Venezuela, and the Philippines, if not by my actual friends), but also from one of my foremost passions, Barcelona fútbol. I have missed game after game of what I was under the impression (up until yesterday?) might be the comeback year. So two nights ago I committed myself to returning to both blog and football thereupon. Overexcited, I truly could not sleep a wink thinking about the upcoming game (the first Barça-Madrid Clásico of the season) and thus was awake at the crack of dawn to check out the day’s convened squad. IMPOSSIBLE for crappy Real Mandril to win against Barça forwards Messi, Neymar, Pedro, Munir The Teenage Revelation and, last but not least, playing his much-anticipated first game after the World Cup biting-incident sanction, Luis Suárez!!!!! (Aren’t those perhaps five of the best six, seven, ten strikers in the world?) With the Chilean World Cup goalie, Claudio Bravo, against whom NO goals had been scored since the Liga season started in August: a record 720 minutes unbeaten. With the best of the Old Guard (minus my beloved of course): Iniesta and Xavi. With Madrid third in the standings (to Barça’s #1)!
I jumped out of bed much earlier than my two hours of sleep warranted to make sure I found my latest team jersey model (two years old, I couldn’t bear to buy a new one this summer with Busquets as #5) and don the special-occasion WAR PAINT
which I still had sense enough to take off again right away rather than wear down the street to Miss G and Mr. Chxyzk’s apartment (I did carry it in my pocket for later reapplication). These two dearest friends having offered, on top of their 42″ (56″? 395″?) TV, a civilized brunch of Swedish Pancakes, whose existence I was oddly unaware of, despite having temporarily inhabited the picturesque town of Lund. (They were DELICIOUS, in any case; primarily, I imagine, because like me, Mr. Chxyzk is authentically Swedish.) I should have known the airs weren’t propitious when I arrived and Mr. Chxyzk was tiptoeing around the kitchen, Miss G was nowhere to be seen (afflicted with a migraine she thereafter bravely tried to will away), and Miss G’s son revealed himself to be a REAL MADRID SUPPORTER (would absolutely not let me paint his arm blaugrana)!!! And then Barcelona DID THE IMPOSSIBLE: it f****** lost the game. I remember little of this debacle–perhaps because of the various intoxicative accompaniments to the Swedish pancakes–but Miss G spent the entire cab ride back from our later evening gallivanting about in horrified flashbacks (“WTF were those two lines of four? That hasn’t been seen in Barça since the days of…!!!!”). All I will acknowledge remembering (and would that I could also erase it from my mind) is that RM’s third goal scored by Benzema was sort of OK (roll of my eyes, pffffff).
I will additionally acknowledge being a little wistful for José Mourinho, or rather the inevitable rumbles of the Mourinho-Guardiola era, which so entertained the audience when games were made unbearably soporific by the defensive tactics Luis Enrique now seems eager to imitate:
Speaking about wistfulness and fútbol… There are things about which a gal must be indiscreet, because their sheer fabulousness trumps any and all grownup prudence (thus a high-ranking academic official at my institution, thankfully since departed, was once stunned to hear all about a calendar-worthy seven-foot-tall California firefighter upon casually greeting me with an unsuspecting “how was your break?”). And so I have to blab in this private anonymous setting about my recent brush with WAGness. Here I was, heartbroken upon the loss of my cherished michelangelesque bollycao to famine or disease or some other natural disaster, when out of a billowy nebula in the sky there fell upon me a consolation prize in the form of a young English expat footballer (!!!!!!). To protect the identity of the innocent I am unable to show you one of the many selfies he generously shared with me (and more, or perchance less, knowingly, with my coterie of old-witch friends), but let’s just say we are still in general Michelangelo territory. Evidently the Hand of God was at play and, like Diego Maradona, who am I to question divine intervention? And so I applied myself to channeling Victoria Beckham, but (alas!) our love was not to be. We immediately ran into insurmountable linguistic obstacles, and not just because I am notoriously unable to communicate with the British, but because apparently my academically-infused vernacular is completely unintelligible in the pro-sports echelons. My hyperbolic verbosity in praise of his assorted virtues just met with expressions of utter bafflement, and I was disappointingly discouraged from lavishing upon him the many ingenious saucy limericks that were his predecessor’s glee, and at which I truly excel (and which I may publish, at the witch-friends’ urging, after I am retired from respectable employment). Also, I have to say I was disheartened by his olympic indifference to my attempts at actually conversing about soccer (OK, and show off my middling competence, but how many ladies of a certain age do you know who possess a paper + kindle library on the subject–BTW thank you Miss K for the latest addition!).
Inexplicably (given the fact that I rarely or never excite the interest of English footballers, let’s be honest), I started minding his neymarish side-swept pompadour (all the rage in his circles, of course), and it was clear our differences were irreconcilable: the Beautiful Secret Footballer and I had to part ways.
Reflecting on it all (the nostalgia for fútbol excitement, the disastrous game, the romantic interlude), I’ve realized what has REALLY been missing from my life, why I truly grieve inconsolably (which reminds me, would anyone like to come with me to the MetMuseum’s 19th-Century mourning fashions exhibit?). Life just hasn’t been the same since the retirement this spring of my injury-besieged True Love Forever, CP5, Carles Puyol. Although he is now somehow (too invisible) part of Barça’s “sports management,” no longer will he spring forth from his mighty thighs and catapult himself through the air to drive a football home with his armor-plated cranium.
No longer will he unfailingly have every other player’s back, nobly encouraging fair play and fierce drive (especially from that blasted Piqué, whom I’m ready to sell to ManU or wherever). No longer will the wind blow through his most humble and careless curl to fill me with the starry night’s vapors of gold and pearl.
Most painful of all is that he did not, as I had always counted on, fall in love at first sight with me after that July 2012 serendipitous encounter
that followed my not-at-all-planned-and-systematic 2012 pilgrimage (a more exact term than stalking) through all his urban and rural haunting grounds (two hours of illegal idling at a Barcelona bus stop included), and led to my #1 and #2 most memorable Facebook posts EVER. Or subsequent serendipitous encounters where I got to whisper I LOVE YOU CARLES directly fifty feet away from his ear (12/13):
Instead, he fell in love with a Barbie supermodel with whom he can engage in tantric yoga acrobatics on what looks like children’s interlocking foam floor tiles,
and purportedly spawned a lovely girl-child (I never did see anything inside all those blankets…).
I have been slowly coming to terms with the loss. While not yet ready to talk about my Android wallpaper, I did convince myself the other day to swap the Puyol caganer in my bathroom for a little Betty Boop,
during which operation THIS terrible thing happened, which I’m sure is a bad omen (theories about its meaning are welcome):
So, hard as I find it to move on, I’m trying. (But if rumors that Puyol is shopping for a condo in Manhattan are true, however, all bets are off, lighter-than-air supermodel!!!!!)
It seems clear at this point, in any case, that I need (dare I even type it out?) a NEW BARÇA LOVE. In consequence, once it became apparent that neither good goals (the Barça not RM type) nor good rumbles were on yesterday’s menu, I spent what remained of the second half scouting for my new Samson demigod. Let’s face it, the current Barça squad is not exactly strong on the demigod front.
For a brief moment in August, I tried to get enamored of Ivan Rakitić, to no avail (the hair was alluring, but such is the intractable heart). But, as of yesterday, I kind-of sort-of made a pre-decision on the Heir Apparent. Behold Sergi Roberto:
So he’s not there yet (he is a mere twenty-two years old). His muscles aren’t Tarzan-like; his ribs don’t extrude from his chest just so. But his curls have potential, maybe. A midfielder for a central defense, I don’t know… Will he be as great a footballer as my Puyi? Most crucially, will a golden nimbus eventually spring around him–as it did around my True Love, and BTW also around Hristo Stoichkov, my now-decaying-both-physically-and-mentally but also forever hallowed first Barça boyfriend–to shower all around with aurous dew? (The swimming picture seems to suggest so.) Can love grow when it didn’t burst out forthwith, as happened when I first laid eyes upon Puyol? Only time will tell. I’m not a great mover-on, but I do try my best.
[I hereby do also promise an intelligent post about a much more culturally significant subject next–already in preparation. But anyone who knows me also knows the momentous import of what I just wrote…]