Thursday, June 29, 2006

Encased meat diet

We awake the day of the Ghana game after an evening of relative calm. We've been in Nuremburg for 3 days and have proven that man can live on beers and bratwurst alone. This diet though does not come without some very real side effects, or more accurately "inside affects". But with Jenny Craig as my witness I could eat 2 of those tasty little meat veeners and 5 minutes later catch a whiff of the grill and fuck all I could eat 2 more right there. If I could carry 3 without worry of dropping one while I walked and ate, 3 would be the number! Mix those with some cold beer and I'm like a smack junkie getting a fix.
So day of game, we get up and begin to apply the war paint. Brett's friend Jason has joined us from Engerland, and we prepare. Should Italy beat Czech and we dispatch of Ghana, the 2nd round awaits! Unfortunately we have the early game so the US contingent is going to have to begin the festivities a little earlier in the day then some are probably used to.
O'Sheas is the rally point for this game. It turns out to be a very nice place that runs along the river. A great open air patio that welcomes us with cool weather and plenty of beer. We grab some pints and watch the square begin to fill. Game time 4pm, fan rally 11:30am. By 12:30 we are in full swing, the drums have arrived and we begin to sing. I am told that regardless of the hangover the magic beer is always the 3rd. All the pain and bitter taste disappear somewhere in the middle of the 3rd beer. I wonder to myself if the magic number is come to through some abstract mathematical formula that uses the number of days we're into the Cup, the body weight of the individual, and the concentration of Brat fat in the system. Either way O'Sheas is going to be happy to see this crowd. I find the magic midway through beer 2, granted they were big beers, and the songs became a bit more enjoyable. It is time...we begin our march to the train. Our mob has taken to the street, and we weave our way to the station. Drums still beating, flags aloft, the songs and chants fill the air. We enter the tunnel and the roar of sound parts the path, people stop to turn and stare. The sound is deafening...we march!
In '98, prior to the Cup we were in Amsterdam because we had heard that you could buy dirt cheap clogs, and we thought it would be memorable to see some really old windmills. As a bonus to all of this the Champions League Final was being played here as well. Juventus vs Real Madrid met at the brand new stadium. I went to the train station the morning of the match to call my Dad, and from somewhere in the belly of that station something stirred. I stood outside the doors as music began to quietly drift out from within. I remember vividly how the sound began to grow louder and louder with each step of the oncoming mob. They had not yet emerged but there was no doubt that they were coming. As they advanced to the door, the flags waving, drums beating; they sang songs I didn't understand, yet I yearned to join them, to feel the joy inside that was evident on the faces of this parade of fanatics. They poured out into the street, and I have never been the same.
Today I flashed back to that moment as we entered the darkness of the station and I felt so unbelievably proud to be among my countrymen, our flags waving around us and my own draped around me like a cape. Together we went, united in our cause, "Once more into the fray", we took the train by storm!

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