Love, and Football: A True Story

The store is one of my usual stops, on the way home from one of the record shops I frequent. This particular winter evening, the face which greeted me upon entering was not that of the store’s proprietor, but a woman whom I’d never seen before. She didn’t have supermodel looks, but I thought she was quite pretty indeed. She gave me a big smile as I walked in, that made me feel as if everything was right with the Universe.

She asked about driving conditions, and suddenly we were yakking like we’d known each other our whole lives. I don’t think I’ve ever met a woman where I felt so at ease, so fast. Even now, months later, it seems as if, for a moment, the proverbial light and angelic choir were beaming down on the two of us, in that little store. For the merest of moments, I dared to hope that this might, maybe, just possibly, be The One. And then — and then —

<sigh> And THEN…

She stood up. I’d asked about a particular brand of wine, and she stood up to get a better look at the bottle I was holding. “Oh, no…” I was staring at the jogging suit jacket she was wearing.

She looked down. “What?”

Are–are you–are you really a Real Madrid fan?” I was looking in horror at the logo and crest emblazoned on the jacket.

She smiled at me again. “Oh yeah, I LOVE ’em; they’re the only football team I watch.”

“Oh, no” I said again, unzipping my jacket to reveal the embroidered FC Barcelona t-shirt I bought at the Barca superstore adjacent to their stadium in Barcelona.

“Oh, NO…” The shock and dismay was plainly etched on her face as her shoulders fell.

(Now, for the unaware:

There are rivals in football: River Plate vs Boca Juniors in Argentina, Vasco Da Gama vs Flamengo in Brazil. The rivalry between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid is perhaps the biggest in all of European sport. You can read about it here.)

And then, in a fraction of a second, our faces both did the following dance of emotions:

–Hurt and anger: “You’re the Enemy! How DARE you trick me into being nice to you! I can’t even be seen TALKING to you because you’re the ENEMY!”

–Rage at the Universe as we both rolled our eyes heavenward: “WHY dost thou MOCK ME??”

–And then shame that we’re half a world away from both of these teams and their stupid rivalry, and we both started laughing at the ridiculousness of it all.

We’ve run into each other a couple of times since then. I personally hold a sort of faint hope that we could be the football version of James Carville and Mary Matalin, but really, I know better. Really: any other team in all of the Spanish La Liga and we would be planning the wedding by now. But no. We laugh about it, but we both know it can never be. Because the moral of this story is that there is Love, and there is Football, and there ain’t no substitute for either.

True story, swear to God.


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