Friday, June 18, 2010

Great Expectations

Last night's World Cup match brought all of Seoul out onto the streets or into the stadiums, decked out in Red Devil outfits and brimming with a near certainty that their team would triumph over Argentina - who are those guys anyway? Everyone was so excited about the game that it didn't seem to cross anyone's mind that our side might lose.

Downtown, masses of people were crowded together in City Hall Square and other designated locations, as well as in the stadiums, watching on Jumbo TVs. One of my co-workers even said that she was going to watch the game in a movie theater that had contrived to show the action in 3D.

I was as excited as anyone else, though I resisted the impulse to buy some of the cheap plastic devil horns and tridents on sale outside my train station, and watched the match alone at home with my kitty. It's fun to watch from our apartment because our building is part of a large complex of 20-story highrises, and whenever an important play is made, it is possible to hear the cheers and groans of other parties in other apartments echoing through the concrete canyons between the buildings. It really brings home the feeling of being a part of a whole nation of fans watching the same game together, separated only by walls.

Unni came home about halfway through the 2nd half; unfortunately that was just about exactly when the game started really going downhill.

Unni is one of the most unforgiving fans I have ever met. She walked through the door saying "We lost, didn't we?" even though the score was at that point 2-1 with about 30 minutes left to go. She proceeded to get more exasperated as South Korea let in two more really unfortunate goals. The last goal, in particular, when the Korean goalkeeper dove for the ball just as it was kicked to the undefended other side for an easy goal, raised her ire. "Who is that number 12?" she demanded. "They can't just let in easy goals like that! They have to fight until the end!" I tried to console her by mentioning that Argentina had some of the best players in the world and was highly favored to win, but that seemed to make it worse. "We said that we would shock the world with this game, but we ended up shocking them with how badly we lost," she lamented, as we sat around eating the pasta she had brought home and the pachon I had cooked. "2-1 would have been okay, even 3-1 would have been okay, but 4-1... that's like the score of some neighborhood kids' game!"

We continued to hear the neighbors roaring well into the night. They must have been watching the next game, Nigeria-Greece, which would play a big part in determining whether or not South Korea can proceed in the tournament. Unni watched it for a while but quickly switched over to a drama on another channel.

This morning, I asked Unni if she had stayed up long enough to see how the Greece-Nigeria game ended. She replied, "I'm done with watching soccer." Unni could never be a Cubs fan.