World cup

M and I have been watching the world cup.

We were sad when the US lost, and sort of uninvolved when England and Mexico lost — well, Germany just looked so energetic that it was hard not to like them a bit, and we sort of liked the Argentinians’ shirts. What’s with all the hair, though? They seem to be trapped in a different decade. Yes?

K thinks soccer is a stupid sport because the score is always so low and because people roll around on the ground and pretend to be injured and because, he says, there’s all this build-up and nothing happens.

I sort of like it, though. Basketball is just a bunch of running back and forth inside. Baseball is, admit it, boring. Football is just absurd — the only thing it has going for it is that it’s fun to be outside in the stands in the cold drinking coffee or whiskey. Especially in baseball it seems to me there’s a lot of buildup — getting players on base — and then somebody strikes out and it all comes to naught, so I don’t see why K likes that and not soccer. And actually, it’s fun to actually play flag football, but the kind they play professionally is just stupid. People really are injured. I think I also like watching soccer because N used to play, so I’ve sort of learned to enjoy it.

Anyway.

This afternoon M is off at the gay parade — another spectator sport — and I’m at work finishing up some stuff from last week. Is this what it will be like next year? I’ll have nothing else to do and be forced to come in to work for entertainment? Hmmm.

I’ve been rereading The Possessed, by Elif Batuman, which most people I’ve recommended it to have liked much less that I have. Members of the book group I’m in at work have found it “intimidating” and “boring.” So I’m reading it again to see if I can figure out why I liked it so much. In the first place, it really is funny. I guess I can imagine people thinking that she’s too clever by half — she is clever, and you get the feeling that she’s used to writing for a rather specialized audience — one that values cleverness. She’s got a sort of confident but self-deprecating tone that I find endearing, but can imagine others not much liking. I think you’ve also got to be interested in literature and the study of literature, too — she compares, for instance, a recreation of an ice palace built in St Petersburg to the first half of what she calls a conversion narrative — the part of a novel or a poem that is later discounted by the second half of the poem of novel: the novel about the adulterous romance (Anna Karenina) that is disounted when Anna is thrown under the train, Vronsky leaves for Serbia to fight the Turks (“the novel is absorbed into history”) and Levin goes to his estate to find God (“the novel is absorbed into spiritual meditation”). Or, in the case of Maurice Sendak, Pierre stops saying “I don’t care” (so satisfying!) and repents and says “I care” (so boring.)

I see this time around that it’s the story of her growing up, really, and doing so in the context of a lot of reading. Being a person who was thrilled beyond measure to find, in Ulysses, a way to make ordinary life into a book, it’s easy to see how this speaks to me.

Okay — onward with my issues of classification. I want to be home in an hour.

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3 thoughts on “World cup

  1. Okay, I’m going to mark myself as some kind of alien, but I find any and all team sports completely uninteresting and bizarre. (Isn’t it just a way to have warring tribes and still be politically correct?) Which means I was pretty much guaranteed to produce that sporty child of mine. At least my secondborn son is more into dancing around in twirly skirts. Perhaps there’s a gay parade in my future, too…

    • I don’t think you’re an alien at all. I am a pretty unsporty person myself. I’m not sure why I’ve become fascinated by the world cup — but it is really interesting, even just in sartorial matters, like the Argentinians’ hair . . . Should you eventually need a place to stay while the younger one is parading (ours is the big one, I think), we’d love to have you —

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