- We know it’s over.
It has been just over a week since the rather anxiety-ridden and plentifully penalty-carded World Cup final match between Spain and the Netherlands, a fractious battle from which the Spanish emerged the victorious footballers and the Dutch—thanks to Nigel de Jong’s more or less defensively intended tom-stuntery that had him deliver an impressively direct jump-kick to the sternal plate of Spain’s Xabi Alonso—advanced to the next level of Kung Fu Madness.
And so ended World Cup 2010. Just over a week ago. A long week ago. A painful week ago. A week in which you’ve asked yourself the question, several times a day, “What now?” A week in which afternoons come and go and you think, “Did I forget to do something early this morning, or at 11, or at 2:30?” Such forms of mild self-interrogation are but a couple of the symptoms of the real, the very real condition, a physio-cognitive and cardio-stationary impairment of sorts, known as World Cup Withdrawal. Other symptoms include (this list not exhaustive):
-Over the course of the week, the responses you’ve provided for your self-interrogative rhetoric have ranged from “hmmmph” to “geez” to shedding a couple tears. By Friday, this culminated in “fuck my life.”
-You’ve begun to miss the droning horn-buzz of the vuvuzelas that seemed to herald malarial onslaughts from Mars. They made you tone deaf for several weeks, and you now miss that feeling.
-At work, at play, at home and online, you’ve lost that easy, obvious way to connect with friends, strangers and so-called “foreigners,” not to mention the so-called “rest of the world,” by chiming in about players and games and possible outcomes. Even when you passionately disagreed with others’ outlandish claims—for instance, “Team X (Germany, let’s say) is fun to watch!”—you could always agree on two things: “Fucking refs!” and “Maradona is sick!” The current lack of such rich and/or trivial discourse leaves you forlorn.
-You really miss, you really really really miss having a seemingly valid excuse to spend afternoons hanging around drinking, gawking at screens, cheering, drinking, barking out stats and raising your arms in the air in celebration of goals, while drinking, or in protest of fouls and off-sides calls, while drinking. You now find yourself “actually working” or “not taking fake lunch breaks,” and this makes you think, “fuck my life.”
-You miss the release of daily screaming and hollering and crying out loud, and sometimes hugging strangers, while viewing a sporting event. Such constant catharsis gone, you begin to think you might not emote for another four years. You then think, “Some people achieve such catharsis from watching sports all the time.” This makes you think, naturally, “fuck my life.”
-Demonstrating the deft precision of a proper slide-tackle by attacking your housemate or houseguest or partner or spouse or child, even (“he needs to learn how the world really IS,” you’d say, “and slide-tackling helps him UNDERSTAND!”), is no longer “hilarious.” No longer is it even “getting a bit old.” At this point, it’s basically violence and thus met with scorn and disapproval, if not talk of divorce or restraining orders. This makes you feel a bit shit, obviously. But your slide-tackles are so nice, so clean.
-Your great, frequently shared narrative of football—”the one you play with your feet,” you’d sometimes say—as the “purest of sports,” as the one most readily identifiable with the “earliest games” in which the ball was still an “orb,” in which the mode of play was still reflective of “ancient sacrificial rites” and so forth, no longer has its quotidian context. You find yourself forcing it into conversation, which only reminds you that all that you are and do are but a ruse.
-If you viewed most of the World Cup on Univision, your ears miss absorbing such things as “goooooooooool, goooooooooool!” and “seeeeee laaaaaa peeeeeerrrdio!” as vuvuzelas sang along in swarming harmonies. You also keep thinking, “Ya se armo!” before realizing it’s just not true anymore.
-You miss the heart, the ardor, the courage, the humble vigor, the fresh vitality, indeed the rugged individualism and, yes, manifest destiny (and other cliche truths) of the American team. But then again, you’ve been missing all that for weeks already, ever since they “let Ghana win,” and so forth.
-It was fun for a month to relate every match, both real and imaginable, to national histories, national characters, recent and current events and political circumstances, and, naturally, the meta-colonialist narrative at the heart of it all, a discourse that only deepened as the final match featured the Spanish and the Dutch fighting over a “world” title in South Africa. Talking about such things made you feel like you had “knowledge” and “ideas” and “associative acumen.” Now you’re back to your head full of trivia, all useless at that.
-The red card and yellow card pranks you’ve been playing are not funny anymore, especially the ones involving trespassing, voyeurism and binoculars. You can no longer attribute these acts to “World Cup fever,” and your claim that they’re representative of the kind of “dry humor” that “Americans don’t get” just doesn’t cut it. (You might try telling authorities that you’re keeping an eye out for Russian spies, however, but that won’t work for long.)
-Seeing mixed groups of children and adults of commingled ethnicities and socio-cultural profiles kicking soccer balls around in parks was, for a little while, a soul-searing, tear-wrenching, heart-piercing display of the potential for harmony, unity, peace and—why not?—renewable energies. Now, though, seeing such groups brings about sentiments on the sadder end of nostalgia, and you’ve even begun to consider that the notion of “football as unifying force” is not only a bit dreamily utopian, but also maybe just complete bullshit.
Again, these are but a few of the symptoms of World Cup Withdrawal. Share more with us in comments, if you wish. The more information gathered, the better. For now, anyway, the good news is that these symptoms will wane, and that you might manage to find normalization and contentment sometime before 2014, even without medication.
And remember, “fuck my life” is an acceptable mindset to have right now. It makes it easier to suffer individually while remaining passionately in love with all peoples, all nations, all the world and all that, if you’re still making such attempts.
If you start saying to yourself instead, however, “fuck life,” and if that mindset takes over your world, maybe see a doctor. Or stop being so elitist and start loving baseball.