We had a test at 8 this morning. I didn’t get home until after 3, and didn’t sleep til 4, and while it seems that I should feel like this was a bad idea, I don’t. The test was fake – although really, when I think about it, what parts of our classes here aren’t?
But after the test our teacher taught us some soccer terminology which, in terms of conversations with actual Chinese people, is seriously the most useful lesson we’ve ever learned in that class. Coach, referee, goalkeeper, [a bunch of position names I don’t know in English], favorite, upset. I also learned that yellow cards accumulate between games, but that was in English.
Carmen and Dorothy, two women from English Mass, invited me to Marco Polo (Xiamen’s nicest hotel) for lunch at noon. After a mild panic attack over having nothing to wear to a place like that, I met up with them for a very nice lunch. We had dimsum (Cantonese) and a waitstaff who smiled, responded quickly, and changed our plates between dishes. Crazy!
The main event of the day, though, was the US-Slovenia game. Kristina and I had been trash-talking for a week already – as well as we can when neither of us is very knowledgeable or usually very passionate about soccer. We went to dinner first, enjoying the time while we were still friends. [For dessert, we had no-bake brownies that I had made in an effort to 1) use up my can of sweetened condensed milk and 2) attract (bribe?) fans to the American side.]
Maybe it was just my nation’s pride at stake, but I thought this game was exciting from the very start. Unfortunately, it was mostly the bad kind of exciting throughout the first half – Slovenia scoring twice, our goalkeeper miles away both times. Most people were cheering for Slovenia, the underdog, but a lot of the time it was just me and Kristina yelling at our players. She’s about 3 games behind me in soccer knowledge, which is pretty funny – I got to watch her learn what offsides is!
During halftime, I remembered why I don’t watch sports (well, one of the reasons). I can only care about a game if I really care about one of the teams, and I can only care about a team if I have a deep personal connection. I’m too much of an Army brat without roots to get excited about one part of America competing with another, but I can get behind my university or my country. So, especially with Kristina (Slovenian) sitting right next to me, I had my heart in the game and my pride on the line. But I don’t like it when my emotions are dependent on the actions of others . . . I don’t know how you Chiefs and Lions fans handle it!
I sought the solace of Carlos, my Spanish friend who recently experienced the agony of a loss, and he reminded me that we still had a chance. Sure enough, we scored right after play resumed and, later, we scored again! It was glorious.
We scored again in the last five minutes, which should have won us the game. But when I say “we scored”, I mean “the ball went into the Slovenian net” and nothing else. The ref called it offsides and that was that. I’m far too ignorant – and know it – to make my own judgments on officials’ calls, but from what all of my expert friends said it should have counted. But the game was quite dirty – at times even resembling American football – and apparently the same official missed what should have been a red card earlier, so it seems more like bad calls than biased ones.
Oh well. At least this way Kristina and I are still friends.
After the game, we went to check out a beach party and then to Paradise for another going-away party. Sietze leaves tomorrow!
Again, I only caught the first half of the 2:30 game (England vs. Algeria) but saw later that it ended in a 0-0 tie. I really love the NYT sports writer:
If Robert Green has been the most ridiculed man in England, he may soon have company — the rest of the nation’s soccer team.
We still have a chance! Oh goodness, I can’t handle this stress . . .