- Posted by Italy
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Game day is a day full of heart palpitations and butterflies in your stomach. It's also a read-the-tea-leaves and search-for-omens day. This particular game day also turned out to be an "anything that can go wrong, will go wrong" kind of day.
I ducked out of work early, got on to the highway and gunned it. I had the local Italian radio station on. The game was about to start. They're singing the national anthems. The announcer sees the need to tell us that the whole Italian team is "singing loudly and in unison." He's got to be making that up!
Meanwhile, a few angry drivers and I are fuming 'loudly and in unison' because something ahead is holding up traffic. By the way, don't ask me what loud fuming sounds like. In fact, don't ask me anything. I've got to get from Markham to Kleinburg to watch the game and something is holding up traffic at two in the freaking afternoon! And the G20 circus hasn't even arrived in Toronto yet!
For relief, I crank the radio and the Italian announcer informs us that it's been raining apocalyptically in Cape Town all day long. Good. The soccer players always did pay too much attention to their hair. But not good. That toy ball they're using this year is only going to be more mischievous if its slick.
While I made a mental note that I must record these piercing insights in my blog later tonight, I suddenly found that I'm somehow rolling into my driveway! I'm finally home - and there's a dumpster right in front of it!
Oh I forgot. They're starting the reno on my bathroom today. Whew! And just to underline this fact, here comes a worker staggering out my front door with the toilet bowl. (Farewell old friend!) I'm not normally superstitious, but World Cup games always get me looking for omens. Hmmm... let's see. Italy vs. Paraguay... second Monday of June... torrential rain in Cape Town and a bathroom tear-out in Kleinburg. There has got to be a connection. It's got to be a sign!
And then look who else appears at the door! Joey! Best doggy and soccer expert in the world! (I hope you enjoyed meeting Joey and his opinions in my last blog).
Joey: Welcome home, oh bald and tardy master!
Me: Glad to be, oh wry, but trusty canine!
Joey: Don't pat me yet. Turn on the TV! Someone's about to take a dive. I can feel it in the air.
I turn on the game. Dark clouds are visible and it's absolutely pouring. The Italians are mounting an assault on the Paraguayan net and, sure enough, down goes Daniele De Rossi like he's been shot in the back. Again I search for omens. Hmmm... dark skies... dumpster in my driveway... De Rossi diving. There's gotta be a connection!
The writhing stops now and De Rossi is motionless...
Me: Maybe he's been struck by lightning.
Joey: I wonder if they have a special spray for that.
Me: Wait! Good news. He's alive again!
Joey: Whoops. Bad news. Paraguay's about to score.
Joey: Just watch.
A set piece. The ball is kicked. A random Paraguayan jumps with his back to the net. De Rossi (who's supposed to be covering him) forgets to jump. The ball hits the Paraguayan in the head. And, before you can say Jabulani, the ball caroms into the net! Now the whole Italian team looks like it's been struck by lightning and the Paraguayans are going crazy!
Me: The Paraguayans are going crazy.
Joey: The English announcers are going crazier.
Me: Lippi looks pissed.
Joey: But his hair still looks good.
Me: True. But you can't tell me it's real..
Joey: Paraguay just scored on Buffon. You can't tell me that's real either.
And then, just like that, MY TV GOES OUT! I'm not making this up! There's no signal and no channels are working. Only a blank azzurri-blue screen - just to rub in it.
Me: What the...?
Joey: Are you sure those guys are only tearing out the bathroom?
Me (as I stomp over to the workers): Did you guys just cut something?
Worker: Italian score, yeah?
Me: Italian score, no! Did you guys just cut something?
Worker: No cut. We use drill.
Me: What did you...? Never mind. I'm going out for a moment. Quick JoJo, get in the car. We're going to nonno's house!
"Nonno" is Nonno Giovanni. Not my grandfather, but the kids' grandfather. He's my awesome father-in-law, but I call him 'nonno' because I like to rattle his chain. He takes it in stride and gets even every chance he gets. Joey and I walk in without ringing the doorbell because we know he won't leave the game just to answer a door. No one disturbs Nonno Giovanni when Italy's playing. We find him entranced and anxious in front of his brand new, just-bought-for-the-occasion 55" television set.
Me: Veh nonno! Che bel televisore nuovo!
Nonno Giovanni: Siediti e guarda la partita.
Joey: What did he say?
Me: He said to sit down and watch the game.
Joey: Good idea. Italy's about to score.
And they do! Another set piece. Simone Pepe takes the corner kick. The ball sweeps into the box. The Paraguayan keeper vaults into the air fist-first, like a cape-less, South American Superman - up, up and Away! Whoops, the ball does get away. He's missed it. It drops and look who's diving again! It's Daniele De Rossi - foot first this time. The ball hits his foot, then the ball, his foot and the footballer enter net together. GGOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLL!!!
Nonno Giovanni is on his feet exulting. Everyone's on their feet screaming and jumping around. People somehow are coming in from everywhere. First it's my wife, then two of my kids, then my mother-in-law and then two nephews. Joey just sits under the coffee table wagging his tail smugly.
Then it's more chances for Italy, more tension and more teeth-grinding. There are a few Italian substitutions and then Italy keeps attacking, which leaves Paraguay staggering! We've got them on the ropes! There's another goal in the air for sure, but time is running out! And the final whistle goes!
Joey (with his chin on the floor): Oh well. That's OK for a first game.
Me: Hey wait, Joey. Didn't you say Italy would score two goals?
Joey: I did, but they didn't.
Me: But does this mean-?
Joey: It means they didn't. They didn't, but they will. Next game.
Me: OK. Good dog. Come on, let's get you something to eat. You must be starving.
Joey: Nah, I can't eat a bite.
Hmmmm.... a strange ending to a strange day. Joey's not hungry. Italy has NOT defeated Paraguay. Joey's unerring nose has failed. It misjudged the breezes. Maybe South Africa is too far away. Maybe it's that cloud of ash over the Atlantic. Maybe all the G20 preparations downtown have disturbed the ether. Maybe you shouldn't do bathroom renos during World Cup time!
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