Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Whisker Away

Courtesy of girlsports Tumblr
I have to explain the game.

Wait, I have to explain the history first.

I jumped on the bandwagon at the glimpse of pretty, healthy faces, soccer socks and suntans. I'm not gay, but I am amazed when girls manage to be beautiful and athletic. And soccer tends to bring this about. I was at once caught up in the fandom of Mia Hamm (from her fellow brunette-ness, to her Michael Jordan/I Can Do Anything Better than You commercial) and of course Brandi Chastain's sports bra liberation. Winning was icing on the cake. Twice.

But time passes. And I forget the exhilaration of being truly inspired by a female athlete. The Olympics help a lot. Disney show remakes help a little.

But the other day, when the FIFA Women's World Cup came surging back for its 2011 debut in Dresden, Germany, I found myself frantically searching online for the schedule. And boy was I glad the hus included Sunday's game in the DVR line-up.

We missed the Korea game but knew we'd won. 2-0

We watched the Columbia match. 3-0. Nice.

Then it was time for Sweden. The blondes took us 1-2. So we would be forced to play Brazil, a top-seeded team boasting the world's best female player, Marta. Just Marta. Like Pele' or Madonna; the whole team is like that. I was nervous, intimidated. But the game started off with an 'own goal' (in our favor) - when the other team scores a goal for you. It ricocheted off another player (Daiane, the poor girl). But that gave me the edge I, er, they, needed to move swiftly through the game without much distress.

But as the minutes passed, the refereeing and sportsmanship declined.

A poor red card call led to the U.S. playing a man down. A poor penalty kick (PK - why does that sound so cool?) call led to a Hope Solo (U.S.) save being negated. Brazil's second try at the PK ties it up. Overtime. Brazil scores, taking the lead. Damn it. We're in the final minutes, seconds. Brazil is doing something strange. Diving, flopping, pretending to be hurt enough to waste too many valuable minutes, being carried off on a stretcher only to hop up once on the sideline and rejoin the match. Motherfucker! Die, Erika, #13, die. However, the hus brings up the point that many of the players, especially Marta, look like they would shank you in a second. Stab, stab, stab. Eek.

But our laughter has died out. We're silently raging at the stocky ref, the pissed off Marta, her lowball team with shiny black ponytails and the deepest of tans. We enter the 122nd minute. Clutch Californian Megan Rapinoe, who looks straight off the surfing beach with her blonde, cropped hair, does a cross kick to Abby Wambach, our star on a dry spell. Abby's body jumps and twitches. Ignoring everyone around her, she uses her head to flick the ball past the goalie's fingertips. It slams into the back of the net.

Courtesy of the Eastbay blog
Solo makes the final match block.
We are screaming. The pets are freaking out. Abby is screaming, smiling, careening to the sideline, sliding in the grass. Hope Solo is jumping up and down. The team contains themselves enough to hold it together until the time expires in a tie. All of this done one man down. It's shoot-out time. Hope prepares herself. The kicks are neck-in-neck until poor Daiane misses. It's the potentially final kick, and it's up to Ali (oh yeah) Krieger. And that's it. She does it. !!! We're still in the tournament. We're going on to play France. We cannot believe it. It's the best game we've seen since Boise State. And it's soccer. Tune in tomorrow, July 13, for the next match. See true, international, girl power football, and feel your heart, come to life. Who knows, maybe it'll be another "whisker away"-type match. (Thanks, English commentator who really doesn't know what's going on during the game and likes to ask us, the audience, questions that have to be rhetorical).

Because we work so hard watching sports, we need sustenance. Like sushi. Thank goodness we have friends that make it. So, we go to Joe Patti's on our way over. Joe Patti's is a trip. A long row of cases of fish and white-apron-and-baseball-cap-clad people behind them, communicating with the auctioneer-like man friendly-like dictating the numbers to be served. We weave our way through fish-hungry people, take a number from the red hair dryer on a stick, and soon make our selection of tuna. The lady dodges my camera. But I get the hus. And a shot of lobsters in a tank, thick rubberbands around their pinchers. They always get me. My heart goes out to them, and I also pause to long for a Red Lobster cheese roll (click for recipe). We peek at the wine and stroll by wasabi, through aisles of crackers and stacks of bright orange fish eggs and the paler ginger. We're ready to be rung up, and they double-bag our tuna on ice. It's all so cool, fast and usual, we're impressed. By the whole thing.

This has nothing to do with the post,
but Butters actually caught a sand crab at the beach
the other day and couldn't believe it;
she carried it around in her mouth for a while, quite proud.
Thank goodness we also have friends who organize camping trips. Otherwise, our fourth of July would have been just fireworks partially hidden by a warehouse on the bay. (And when a ship horn sounded at the end of the finale, Butters lost it; we left dog scratch and mosquito-bite ridden. Then she ran through a patch of tall grass near where we parked and got covered in little seeds I had to pick out sprawled on the kitchen floor.)

But we know cool people. So we also got to travel up the Blackwater River several bends, our gear packed into a tiny, flooding motorboat - it couldn't be all the logs in the shallows we have to mow over on the way - and on to camp atop a sandy sprawl perfectly set in front of a rope swing and strategically placed logs. Perfect because we could go on the rope swing as well as watch crazy passersby go on it - and perfect logs, because we got to watch every canoer and tuber try to navigate them. All groups, races, ages, shapes and personalities, shouting at their kids, struggling with paddles, hurling obscenities, sporting boob jobs, admiring our 4th decorations I've grown rather fond of.

Meanwhile, we sit in our lawn chairs, parked halfway in the water, pretending not be enjoying the front row seat. Or not pretending at all.

We decide we need ice. Navy wife L-Fri and I make a trip with the hus driving the boat. Back at the dock, we'll make a quick trip to the nearest convenience store. (Preamble: there's no alcohol allowed in the river's state park; there are beer cans scattered across the boat floor.) We putter past the bends, picking up speed as we all enjoy the quicker the navigation has gotten over the weekend. L-Fri notices we're gonna pass the dock and hollers. The hus keeps his speed but turns the boat in a big circle. We grip the boat edges and watch all the half-beached/half-floating canoe rentals knock into each other from the waves. We laugh and start pulling up to the crumbling dock.

Aly thinks: Hey. There's a cop standing there. In a green uniform. Looking out over the river. Huh. Blink.

Meanwhile, L-Fri has deftly scooped all the cans up under the bow and blocked their escape with the anchor; she also dumped a red, plastic cup's contents (which someone brought as entertainment for the short wait) and has it join the cans.

Aly turns around and says pointing at nothing: Hey, should we... Oh. You got it.

A whisker away, L-Fri, a whisker away. Inspiring as the girls of soccer.

(FYI everyone, TempurPedic beds in the store are much softer than the ones you get. You have to break it in. A bed you have to break in! WTF.)


Ryan E said...

Top notch stuff as always Aly. I actually got Laura to sit down and watch the game, now I just gotta find out how to watch it tomorrow at work!!

Katie said...

Just a note, it was Ali Krieger that hit the final US penalty and not Alex Morgan. Epic game though, I'll definitely be watching the semi-final tomorrow while at work.

Aly Lawson said...

Thank you, Katie!!!!!!

Cheers to everyone tuning in at work. =)

And as always, muchas gracias, Ryan. I was totally thinking of you.