Monday, June 26, 2006

Happiness, depression and a nation's psychodrama

So the week-end has came and gone once gain as it always do, after all, once a week. Nice to know there are things you can always rely on, right? In fact, it has not been a normal week-end.

To start with, Susanne arrived friday evening and was picked up by my father as I was still at my german class. Long story short, we never joined the VCN Rome crowd gathered at a syrian restaurant for the newly introduced tradition of "ethnic nights" and actually, both tired by work and temperatures around the 30s, we decided to stay at home the whole evening.

The day after was the day of Germany-Sweden, first game of the round of 16 of the World cup so, quite ahead of time I must say, we headed for the Goethe Institut, where I do study german and where they organized a maxi-screen in the auditorium (a pretty big one at that) for following the game. Too much ahead of time actually as, even after an icecream and a good half a hour of aimlessly going around, it was still way early. So we moved to this little park near my former high school, called "Villa Paganini" where, while we were walking toward a bench, I just noticed a couple... having sex in the open. Ah, summer in Italy, the love in the air, the hormones excited by the sun and everything I suppose, but, seriously, that was somewhat annoying and embarassing.

Anyway, back to the Goethe Institut things where going unde way and when we made it back there, everything was ready: a large auditorium with powerful air conditioning, typical german food (all kind of wurstchen and roasted pork an potatoes) and beer and... a few hundreds of germans, many wearing their team's shirt (Susanne included, all ready for the game. Now, I must say something: a few hundreds of italians singing the italian national anthem are a nice cheerful choir,while a few hundreds germans singing what is left of it that it is still legal to be sung are STILL a fear-inspiring show.

The game was anyway a somewhat easy 2-0 german victory which left everyone in a good mood (and, at least in my case, with a happily full stomach). Later on, after a random walk around downtown in the fruitless attempt at finding a bit of random german tourists to celebrate with (the city, which usually sees the german tourist population being only slightly less numerous than the american and japanese one, looks like we closed the Germany-Italy border these days), we joined Liesbeth and a friend of hers, Jennifer, for an aperitivo that coincidentally featured also an half-swede at the table.

And while our table featured a sort of smaller version of the football game played in the afternoon, we were surrounded by a crowd of extremely loud argentinians and of slightly less colorful (but then again, probably just because of the smaller number) of mexican following Argentinia-Mexico on the bar's screens. Just a suggestion, my dear and mostly anonymous reader: if you aren't sure about what to drink, don't go for fanciful drinks' names, you could be quit surprised in the end.

And sunday came, and Susanne went. And happiness left, gloom came and, considering I shall not see her again for at least 5 weeks, it seems that is going to stay.

And we came to the nation's psychodrama. Today was the moment of Italy-Australia, our own game of the round of 16. An easy game, you'd say, and you'd be by all means right in that... if we weren't Italy.

Italy is that team that as won 3 world championships, but also the one able (with much help from the referee) to lose against South Korea in 1998. Italy is that team that on in 1982 and was able to lose at the round of 16 without almost playing in 1986. Italy is that team that can put on the field great games against the best teams of the world, and fail miserably with the newcomers.

But, most than anything, Italy is one of the most football depressed countries in the world. Not so much as England and the Netherlands, maybe, but almost. The three times world champions who have won nothing at all, not even a minuscule European title, in the past 24 years. A quarter of century! Which is not so bed as England's 40 years, I suppose, but still.

And so, while we played today and we struggled against Australia, there it all came back, the panic and the "once again, an early end". And when the referee sent out Materazzi, one of our main defenders, we all were able to kiss the tournament goodbye, even because Del Piero (one of the most overrated players of the football's history since the discovery of the ball) was annoyingly walking around the field, our strikers seemed to have forgotten what a goal looks like, and the coach on Australia's bench was the same one that was coaching South Korea 4 years ago.

And so, while Asutralia got confused by its own uniform's colors and seemed to play as Brazil, 58.000.000 of italians where there, grumbling and sobbing, hair pulling and mourning, yelling and calling for the wrath of God over our own coach's head, when what had to happen, happened. The accursed coach, finally, against all expectations, made the only right thing to do and the only one thing 57.999.999 italians would had never thought he would had done (the 1 left being the coach himself): summoned Francesco Totti to the field.

He descended on the court, Italy had suddenly 3 good chances in 15 minutes (more than it has on the previous 75) and then the God of Football showed the world that there is justice sometimes as he made the referee see a penalty kick in our favor where not even the most mad italian supporter would had seen one.

And Totti descended over the penalty spot, and with the light touch of his hands, like feathered wings, he placed the ball where it was supposed to be, and his eyes watched the goalkeeper, ad the goalkeeer watched the ball, and Totti watched the ball, and the goalkeeper watched Totti, and then no one watched anything as the ball, like a white lightning, was pushed by the sheer will power of millions of frustrated italians, channeled in Totti's leg and foot, inside the Australian's net.

57.999.999 italians were exhausted as the referee closed the game. The other had fainted and was being re-animated.

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