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Monday, June 14, 2010

Time for Life's Pause Button

These days all you can hope to do is rearrange your schedule as much as you can in order to watch as many World Cup matches as you possibly can. It’s not that you are expecting every game you see to be fantastic, you are simply terrified of missing some incredible moment that other people will be watching on youtube videos 20 years from now (or whatever technology soccer geeks will use to view old matches). You don’t want to have to tell people 20 years from now that you missed one of the defining moments of the 2010 World Cup because you were getting the oil changed in your car, or you had to take the cat to the vet, or you had to go to your best friend’s wedding. Who would plan a wedding during the World Cup?

You don’t want to miss something as spectacular as the Argentina-England game from the quarter finals of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. The “mano de diós” and then Maradona’s spectacular goal he took in from past midfield. I watched this game on the island of Ios in Greece along with perhaps 80 other fans. We were in a lonely little square (normally lonely) in the village and one of the cafés had placed a black and white television on a table out in the square. The commentary was in Greek which left about 99.9% of the viewers in the square scratching their heads with every call. At first, everyone thought that the controversy about the “mano de diós” was an offside call until after about the third replay. There was no dispute over Maradona’s second goal which left the square absolutely stunned at first. It was as if no one could really believe what they had just seen.

The best excuse for getting out of work or any other commitment is to say that you have diarrhea. I seem to have come down with a very nasty case of dysentery these days as I am able to predict that, say, this Wednesday at 16:00 I will have a severe bout. It just so happens that this is also the time of Spain inaugural game against Switzerland in the 2010 World Cup. Diarrhea is perfect because just the word is a complete conversation stopper and I guarantee there won’t be any questions asked. Even if you try to encourage questions people will literally run from you when you go into details.

Grandparents’ funerals are also a good excuse except most people here know that I don’t have family in Spain. There are a lot of games and even Elizabeth Taylor’s (married 8 times when I stopped counting) children would run out of dead grandparents pretty early on in the tournament. The thing is, you don’t want to be too creative with your excuses so as not to attract unwanted attention and scrutiny. Lou Gehrig’s Disease may sound cool, and good luck to you if you pull it off, but I think you are just asking for trouble with such a high-profile illness. Your office mates will be setting up a foundation in your name while you are watching Ghana-Australia down at the pub. The most important rules for lying are to keep things simple and then stick to your story, no matter what. Enjoy the games and always bring your own toilet paper.


  1. I know 2 people who planned a wedding during the World Cup (and they knew about this match months ago) - we went to the evening party on Saturday and watched England vs US (interestingly, the groom is English and his wife's American). It was in the cellar of an Irish pub, and so were the toilets. So people would escape the crush upstairs, notice a bit more space in the cellar, and stay there. Nobody told them it was meant to be a private party.

  2. I can picture the groom straining his neck--Homer Simpsons style--to see the TV as the Vicar reads him his rights, or vows, or whatever they call them in marriage.

  3. People always comment on how attractive my husband's handwriting is. It's just standard old-school Palmer method, but it's graceful. He said he learned it back in third grade when he was highly motivated to copy his mother's handwriting. Once he learned how to spell diarrhea, he had it made.

  4. My handwriting looks like someone stuck a crayon up a monkey's butt and then chased him around a freshly-painted room cracking a bull whip. I blame the nuns in first grade for my failure as a caligrapher.


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