WORLD CUP / Talks, Espresso and Propitiatory Worship: The Pleasure of Waiting

Here comes the day of the game and Italians get ready for the big midnight spaghettata, but the real concern is the quality of the TV set. The World Cup is a lens that distorts original meanings and magnifies everything (Leggi in Italiano)

The airplane zooms between the African coast and Italy, takes a wide sweep over the sea then heads decidedly east. A breathtaking sun along the horizon appears on the water’s surface, announcing a new day, the day of the game. These natural enchantments momentarily distract the mind that as of last thursday has been officially consumed by the World Cup. Towards Croatia the sun rises on a sea of dazzling light, a blinding prophesy of loss. I cast my eyes down for a moment to think of my Croatian neighbors across the Adriatic but I refrain from turn them into verse since their loss against Brazil was, to say the least, undeserved. I attempt instead to penetrate the light in the horizon with my gaze and to invoke the historical intrigue of ships of the Venetian Republic that sailed this sea as lords, almost a thousand years ago. The Admiralty of Venice, and Croatia as naval base, to that which was one of the greatest commercial trade networks of the Mediterranean. Yesterday Croatia bowed to the almighty Brazil, a moving sign that soccer does not compete with history.

I stay on the beach to breathe in the scent of the sea; among the dunes my senses are assaulted by the fragrance of wild rosemary while nearby voices of children mingle with comments about the match of the previous evening and those scheduled for tonight. The Sirocco, the warm moist oppressive southwest wind, ripples and rolls the sea predicting inclement weather, the only cause for concern for the numerous restaurants that already have reservations for tonight.

Due to the time zone and to a sign of fate, the match in Italy will air at midnight, that fatal hour that reminds us of culinary dreams. In Italy the Spaghettata di Mezzanotte (spaghetti meal at midnight) is, for many, a summer ritual and assumes gigantic proportions if combined with an Italian World Cup soccer game. Virtually everyone now is properly equipped at home, on porches and terraces, to proclaim the sublime ceremony of spaghetti with oil, garlic and chili peppers as propitiatory worship to the fate of the Italic deeds … As if olive oil combined with chili peppers could serve as a talisman against those Anglosaxons with horned helmets descended from Nordic lands to contend with our boys dressed in blue.

The World Cup is a lens that transforms everything and distorts its original meaning; it magnifies everything and makes it incompatible with reason. Some sitting at the bar with their coffee (another undeniable Italic ritual) discuss how England has been able to win not one battle against Italy—but for that of El Alamein—how about tomorrow’s game! One of the most tragic and devastating battles of WWII compared to a soccer match: talk about fair play…

The newspapers are reporting that one of our players is in the hospital and we lost him to injury for the debut game against England. A simple contracture of his calf that however gains the front-page headlines of the most important Italian papers. The World Cup is also a curtain that dims the news not pertinent to soccer and has the ability to freeze time, push it forward by a month so that all that occurs during the World Cup is suspended by a kind of limbo of the media that Italians will regularly catch up with in a month’s time.

The sun is now in its zenith and in a little while it will be early afternoon, that time in summer when southern Italians stay indoors, only a few dare to defy the merciless sun. During this time only the souls of the deceased march, travelling up the stems of the fava bean plant, as Pythagoras alleged.

The fever has fallen a bit at least until tonight when the a rise in temperature is forecasted. My fever rises and falls so to keep it at bay I’ve organized a spaghettata at my humble abode together with my friends of a life time, sure that their only concern will be the display quality of my television set…

Sleepless nights due to bad thoughts; nights of singing out in the open; nights of vigil and restless sleep; nights of work and play; nights of soccer game recaps…these are the nights of the World Cup.

To be continued…


Traduzione dall'Italiano di Enza Antenos


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