Calling the World Cup

By Teddy Wayne

Uh, hello, loyal World Cup TV watchers. I’m John McGrath, your new announcer, from Shaker Heights, Ohio. And I want to make it clear that the previous announcer is not at all being held hostage by a terrorist organization, that in no way have I been thrust into duty unwillingly from my seat nearby in the stadium on my family’s vacation in South Africa, and that I have certainly not been given the proviso that if I don’t fill the time and call the game competently, I will be killed in an internationally symbolic attack on U.S. colonialism and ignorance.

So here I am, watching England versus…those flags look like–yes, it’s definitely Brazil.Of course, outside of America they call it “football,” because the game is played with the feet, though in the U.S. they named it after the socks they wear, so there it’s known as “soccer.” Except the goalie can use his hands, obviously. But maybe only in that, like, what looks like a helicopter landing zone, with the white lines around it? It goes out onto the lawn from that net thing.

Nice pass to the middle fielder. Midfielder? Yeah, that sounds about right– midfielder. Since he’s in the middle of the field. Now, it appears like he can play both offense and defense.  Can’t he?  I think they all can, because they’re all running around at random, it seems–I just meant he’s sort of designed to do it. Because he’s in the middle. Of the field. Hence, again, the position of “midfielder.Ooh, they just threw something yellow at someone who might well be Boris Becker–um, David Beckham. A yellow flag? Card, a yellow card. Which constitutes a warning, I believe. He’ll be kicked out if he receives a second yellow card. I’m sure that’d put an unpleasant shrimp on the barbie of his wife, Australian singer Kylie Minogue.

Boy, maybe Beckham really shouldn’t have let his temper get the best of him there. We should all remember that anger and violence are never the answer, both on the field and especially off it in a padlocked television booth packed with hair-trigger explosives.

Brazil will kick the ball back in after England kicked the ball out of the boundaries of fair territory. Oh, yeah, I forgot–they can also use their hands on the throw-in. Wow, a lucky break for Brazil, as Ronaldinho takes several steps before tossing it in but isn’t whistled for traveling. Get your eyes checked, ump!

Ronaldinho… That’s not his whole name, is it? Although all the Brazilians seem to do that, like whatshisname. Can’t believe I’m blanking on this one… You know, the really famous guy from the seventies…Pelé! That was weird–I could remember the sarcastic joke people make when you kick something badly, but all I could think of was “polo.”  Just to recap, the joke is, “Nice one, Pelé,” or alternatively, “Kick it over here, Pelé.”

You hear that? The Brazilian fans are singing. No doubt a translation of “We Will Rock You.” Or maybe “Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye).” Or maybe “The Lady from Y-Panama.”

Ah, right–heading the ball is fair game, too. But I think I read an article where they said that like American football players–I mean, what we call football–soccer, I mean, foreign-football–players have a lot of neurological problems. So, kids, make sure you always wear your soccer helmets, while your brains are still OK.  Too late for these guys, I guess.

England has a two-on-one breakthrough!  Breakahead. No–breakaway! They better watch out for the off-sides rule. It’s the same as in hockey, yes? I remember that from gym. Uh, Jim Andrews, my soccer mentor. Anyway, here’s the shot from who I’ve been assuming all along is Beckham…

And it caroms off the whaddyacallit!

But Brazil is called for a penalty, and England receives a penalty shot, or a “freedom kick.” Omigod, look where all the Brazilian defenders are putting their hands! That’s so funny! You’d think they’d wear cups or something.

 Beckham, or some guy who I think looks a lot like him, lines up, shoots, and–POIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNNT!

And time expires as England wins, 1-0. Phew. Thank God that’s over. Huh?  Injury time? What’s that? Well, why don’t they just stop the clock earlier? That’s so dumb.

Man, this game is slow. World’s most popular sport–seriously? It’s got fewer goals than a Brooklyn hipster. Hey, isn’t a rerun of “The Real Housewives of Orange County” on now?   Oh, right—just joking!  Of course I would never watch that crass show promulgating vapid American materialism. It’s enough to make you want to renounce your American citizenship and get out of here alive.

Teddy Wayne is the author of the novel “Kapitoil,” available from Harper Perennial.

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