Because Steve Nash Likes It
An insider’s look at the comings and goings of the World Cup.
Cape Town is pulsing with the mass migration of English supporters in to the city as their match against Algeria sits only a few hours away. They bring with them their pasty, virgin white skin, enthusiastic donning of sunglasses, Christmas morning type excitement at having a pint outside, and choruses of ‘God Save the Queen.’ Local cover bands sharpen their chords and make an honest attempt at Liam Gallagher’s most unique of singing styles in readying their inevitable renditions of ‘Wonderwall’ throughout the British invasion, and everyone keeps their wives and daughters at home in lieu of John Terry’s arrival.
To a great extent the English are good fun, most of the hooligans victims of integrated international custom’s policies which blacklisted them from the country. Nevertheless, the everyday British Joe (we’ll call him Jeeves) still has that latent impulse to scrap buried just beneath the surface. Walking along the oceanfront promenade yesterday afternoon, I saw a British man no younger than 55 stumbling along and only kept standing by his friend’s stable embrace, bleeding from a number of open facial wounds. Shit, age is only a number.
I must admit, beyond those bewildering eccentricities, those Brits do bring a great atmosphere with them. Watching the universally enjoyed Mexican defeat of the French at an Irish Pub up Long St., there was a palpable injection of energy courtesy of our former colonial masters. Support was unanimous for El Tri, who look to be a lock for advancement barring anything wildly unforeseen in their final match against Uruguay. The crew of 15 or 20 Mexican patrons probably received more awkward hugs from random white strangers than they ever had in their lives up to this point. I passed along my own congratulations to a number of them, who warmly received it initially, responding, ‘Thank you, are you Australian?’ Revealing my Yankee origins prompted a shift in mood to something between mistrust and hostility (Because of a distaste for Americans or American soccer I cannot be certain). I gave a college try at commiserating and insisting on a genuine support for our neighbors in this here World Cup but they weren’t feeling the kid too much.
That is not to say all international mediating efforts were a failure last night. Amongst the jovial crowd at the pub was a decently sized group of Algerians vibing on the pre-match nightlife. Buzzed on a quietly growing number of beers, I felt compelled to follow Obama’s initiative from the Cairo speech and make a grassroots appeal for Algerian-American solidarity. Paraphrasing from a slightly hazy memory, the following transpired:
Me: ‘LET’S GO ALGERIA!!!’
Them: ‘YES MY BROTHER, LET’S GO ALGERIA!’
Me: ‘FUCK THE BRITS. GO ON LADS, I’M PULLING FOR YOU BIG TIME TOMORROW.’
Them: ‘THANK YOU MY FRIEND. ARE YOU IRISH?’
Me: ‘NAH, I’M ACTUALLY AMERICAN BUT I’M NOT A DICK, I PROMISE. YOU GUYS ARE GONNA BUST THEM ENGLISH TOMORROW.’
Them: [laughing] ‘OK MY BROTHER. THANK YOU, THANK YOU. GOOD LUCK AS WELL. WE WILL DRINK TO THAT.’
Cool guys. We chilled for a good bit, shot the shit, shared some sympathies and built some camaraderie all of which was allowed and triggered by the mutual enemy of the English (at least an enemy in the immediate sense of the next couple hours). And I thought my anti-English rhetoric would never lead me anywhere.
Will this exchange prove to be a watershed moment in shifting the narrative of American relations with the Islamic world, completely taking the sting off the pressing realities in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, etc? I can’t be certain, but if it comes to fruition, you will have heard it here first.