OK, hands up all those who don’t care about the World Cup?
If you do care, I suggest you keep surfing, because there’s nothing for you here this week. And anyway, I’m sure you’ll be far too busy following the misfortunes of the English team to be reading this blog.
For those of you still reading, here’s my beef in a nutshell: I’m sorry, but I just don’t get the appeal of a bunch of guys running around a field chasing a little black and white ball.
And I certainly don’t know why you would get so excited about it. I read somewhere that back in the 1950s, when Brazil played Uruguay, and Uruguay won unexpectedly, some Brazilian fans were so distressed they literally jumped off the top of the stadium and killed themselves.
I seriously couldn’t imagine another game where this sort of thing happens. I was thinking the other day what would happen if Roger Federer didn’t win Wimbledon (well, the way he’s been going this year, he’ll probably have lost in the quarter-finals by the time you read this) and, for the life of me, I just couldn’t imagine anyone throwing themselves off the top of the stadium in howling anguish.
But when it comes to football, something strange happens to grown men and women. They get all giddy and excited like a diabetic who suddenly finds himself trapped in a Willy Wonka movie set.
The other day, I came home to find our cleaning lady, Ah Chuan screaming Hokkien vulgarities at our TV screen. From a safe distance at the door, I could just make out that Spain was playing Honduras. It turns out that the woman who’s been washing our underwear for years is a rabid Spanish fan. And watches TV when she should be cleaning.
“Thank God Spain won!” I later told my flatmates. “For a really tense moment there, I thought she was going to throw her mop through the TV screen!”
“It just goes to show,” said Saffy, “that it’s the stillest waters that run the fastest.”
“I’m sure what you meant to say was…” Amanda began.
“I mean what I mean!” Saffy interrupted smoothly. “But I think I understand what the fuss is all about!”
Amanda looked surprised. “You do? Since when do you follow football?”
“I don’t! Well, at least, I didn’t until Barney Chen sent me a recent copy of Vanity Fair!” Saffy said, reaching into her handbag and pulling out said magazine.
On the cover was Ronaldo and some football player none of us had heard of. Both were wearing nothing except very skimpy underwear.
“Good Lord,” was all Amanda could say after a long moment of silence.
“And look at this guy!” Saffy said cheerfully, as she flipped the pages and stabbed a fingernail at a Cameroon player, her sharp index fingernail dragging a neat circle over his, shall we say, southern hemisphere.
Amanda pulled the magazine closer and peered. “Is that even real?” she asked.
“That’s what I asked Barney Chen, but he said that having played in a few team sports in his time, which knowing him I’m certain is code for something sexual, he’s 90 percent sure there’s been no air-brushing involved.”
“Seriously, someone should write a letter to Fido…” Amanda began.
“FIFA,” I said automatically, surprising even myself at the depth of my football knowledge.
“Whatever, and tell them that they need to have the whole game played in underwear! It’s a wonder that anyone would watch football when the players all wear those ugly baggy shorts. Put them into Armani underwear, I say, and the viewership numbers would skyrocket!” Amanda breathed deeply as she lingered over the assorted bulges on Ronaldo’s body.
And that was how the girls have, thanks to a multiple photo-spread in Vanity Fair, become fans of football.
Of course, the tension level in our little flat has escalated somewhat. When Ah Chuan found out that Saffy had become a fan of Cameroon, Saffy’s precious white satin underwear emerged from the washing machine stained a darker shade.
“Oh, silly me! I must have forgotten to separate the whites from the darks when I did the laundry,” Ah Chuan said in Hokkien, her entire body vibrating with innocence.
Saffy turned to Amanda. “What did she say?”
“She hates your guts,” Amanda translated.
Saffy turned to Ah Chuan and smiled weakly. “It’s OK! No worries! I was going to throw these panties out anyway!” she shouted, still laboring under the impression that Ah Chuan will understand English if you say it loudly enough.
That night, she slept with her door and windows locked.