Nick walked in to the house he shared with Greg and heard screaming. Frightened, he ran towards the sound, and stopped when he saw Greg, Sara, and David dancing around. He stood there, trying to figure out what the hell was going on when he turned to look what was on the TV. |
Nick couldn’t believe it. They were watching soccer. He stood there, staring at them, wondering why they were watching it. Nick went virtually unnoticed until Greg happened to look up at him.
“Hey Nicky baby! What’s wrong?”
“Um, nothing. What are you guys watching?”
Sara and David looked up at Nick like he had kicked a puppy. “What does it look like we’re watching?”
Sara went on a rant that would scare any man. “Soccer? Just soccer? Nick, do you realize what this is? This is the World Cup final. The World Cup final! Nations all around the world are watching this game! Trust me buddy, this is not just soccer.”
“Ooook… so… what happened that got you all excited?”
“Well, Nick, take a seat and you’ll see the replay,” Greg said, and patted on the seat next to him. Nick sat down and gave Greg a quick kiss before looking at the screen to see what had made everyone so excited.
And then he saw it. Marco Materazzi had knocked the ball into the goal with his head, which had seemingly tied the game at 1-1. Nick guessed that everyone was rooting for Italy.
“So that’s what made you all happy?”
“Oh yeah. It’s the first ‘real’ goal scored today,” David said happily.
“What do you mean by real?”
“Well, the goal that the French had was scored off of a penalty kick by Zinedine Zidane.”
Nick laughed. Zinedine Zidane… what kind of a name is that?
“What’s so funny Nick?” Sara asked, arching an eyebrow at him.
Not much was said as they once again became entranced with the game. Nick asked a few questions about the game and the teams, but didn’t get much of a response. He figured he wouldn’t anyways and just sat and tried to study the game.
It’s something unexpected for sure. Nick had no idea that Greg watched any sport at all. He never wanted to watch football with Nick. Whenever he’d ask Greg to watch March Madness with him on a day off, Greg scoffed at the notion and sat at the computer while Nick watched the game.
So when he comes home to see not only Greg, but Sara and David too, watching soccer, it had been a shock. Nick never understood what was so thrilling about soccer. There were hardly any goals made, and if you roughed someone up a bit too hard, you were thrown out.
Plus, there were no cheerleaders. Not that Nick cared, but still. It certainly would attract more American viewers. And it doesn’t help that the event only happens once every four years.
But there obviously was something about it that made billions of people around the world fall to their knees and scream out loud when their team won. Something made them cry when their team lost, made it feel as if the world had no more meaning.
And yet, Nick couldn’t figure out that special something. So he kept watching. And no, he wasn’t getting in to it. At least, that’s what he told himself.
So when it looked like Italy had scored another goal off of a head-butt into the goal, he, along with Greg, Sara, and David, jumped up off the couch and threw his hands in the air. And then crashed back down when the players were ruled off-sides.
“Off-sides? Oh off-sides my ass!” Sara yelled before throwing some popcorn at the screen.
“That’s total bull,” Greg replied.
Nick had to admit, he was a little mad at the call as well. But he wasn’t going to show his displeasure. So he shrugged at them and just kept watching.
“Oh Nick,” David said. “Come on. You have to be enjoying this somewhat. No ordinary person would be excited over a goal like that.”
“I'm not enjoying it. Just participating.”
“Oh Nicky. It’s alright to like it!” Greg smiled and wrapped his arms around Nick before settling back down on the couch.
And so it was, France and Italy were still tied up 1-1. Every time one team looked to have it together to score a goal, it was taken away. Little was said, except for the few ‘oh’s’ and ‘ah fuck’s’ when it came about that France was about to score.
Nick wouldn’t say anything, but he was slowly starting to get what the world got so excited about. Dazzling moves, jarring hits, oh-my-god kicks and high-flying theatrics. He wished he would have gotten in on the action sooner.
Everyone held their breath in the second half of the game. France’s Henry had kicked the ball right towards goalie Buffon. It looked as if it were going in, but then Buffon knocked it up in a moment’s notice, and sent it flying over the goal.
“Hell yeah!” He had no idea Sara was so vocal over games.
“Saved their asses,” David chorused.
Regulation was winding down, and the score was still tied 1-1. Even Nick was getting agitated at it. Yeah they had been playing for almost 90 minutes, but come on? It wasn’t that hard to score a goal.
The players started making frantic shots towards their goals. Neither team seemed to show the finesse that had catapulted them to the final game. The four were screaming for Italy to make a goal. It didn’t happen.
“Ah come on! Overtime? I have to get some sleep eventually!” Sara got up and started pacing around the room. Nick started to wonder if they had placed money on this game. He didn’t ask, for fear of pissing off Sara.
“This game is going to kill me.” David also got up from his seat.
Greg perked his head up and looked at the both of them. “Sounds to me like there’s something more going on. You two got money on this game or something?”
“Me? Oh no. No.” Sara smiled but continued pacing.
“And you David?”
“Oh please. I’ve got better things to do than to bet on some game.”
“Mmhmm. Then why is this game gonna kill you? Unless there’s something else you aren’t telling us…”
“Just because. It’s nervewracking. That’s all.”
”Right…” Greg wasn’t satisfied with that answer.
“Hey everyone shut up! It’s starting.”
The room fell back into silence as the 91st minute of the game began. Everyone settled back down in their seats and stared intensely at the screen. Italy got first possession of the ball, but did nothing with it. Nick swore he heard Sara let out a small string off curses under her breath.
The minutes ticked by, and the French again dominated the ball. They never scored, but came close. They also kept the ball on the Italian side of the field. Everything seemed to be going well for France. But then… it happened.
It’s the 110th minute of the game. All is well, nothing’s wrong. And then, the announcers begin to speak anxiously, like something bad happened. Then, the cameras cut to where a player is lying down on the field as if hurt. No one in the broadcasting booth really knows what happened until they roll footage.
“Ooph! That’ll leave a mark.” Greg just shook his head.
“Damn! Zidane must be really pissed off to have done something like that!”
Nick had to agree that the hit that one Zidane guy gave to the other guy was pretty vicious.
“Materazzi had to have said something hurtful for that to happen.”
Nick just nodded his head and watched the replay. Zinedine Zidane head-butted Marco Materazzi right in the chest. At first nothing was going to happen about it until Buffon started talking to the official. The official went to the sideline officials who said they saw it. And then, Zidane gets shown the red card.
“HAHA!” Sara jumps up again and points at the screen. “Think you could get away with that huh mister? Well I don’t think so!”
“Sara calm down.” David’s shushing her and waving for her to sit back on the couch.
She sticks her tongue out at David before flipping the screen off.
“Now what was that for? What did he ever do to you?”
“Yeah Sara, what did he do?”
Sara just smirked and sat back down. “He pissed me off.”
Not wanting to argue with a pissed Sara, everyone kept their quiet. The match went on, with France down a man after Zidane had been red-carded and thrown out of the game. People were booing in the stand as the teams continued their struggle. And then, the minutes dwindle down to none, and overtime is over. And the game is still tied, 1-1.
Sara and David smack their heads back against the couch and groan in frustration as Greg sighs deeply and leans against Nick. Nick is a little agitated that the game isn’t over yet, but he isn’t as dramatic about it as the other three. He just sits there and strokes Greg’s shoulder.
“Ok soccer studs, since both regulation and overtime are up, what happens now?”
“Well Nicky baby, they now kick penalty kicks. They get five shots. Only players on the field can kick, and whichever team can get the best of five wins. Does that answer your question?”
“Sure does, G.” Nick gives Greg another kiss before turning his attention back to the game.
First up: Andrea Pirlo of Italy. He sets it up perfectly and the ball scoots past French goalkeeper Fabien Barthez. And then, France ties it right back up. Next up: Marco Materazzi. He drills it into the net. It’s then David Trezeguet’s turn for France. He misses. And Sara and David jump up once again.
Both third and fourth kicks for each team make it into the goal. If Fabio Grosso misses this penalty kick, it will give France a chance to tie it up. And if they do, then the game will last even longer.
Everyone is now standing up and holding on to each other tight as Grosso walks up towards the goal line. He stands there for a moment before giving the ball a kick that heads straight for the back of the goal. Greg tenses considerably as the ball gets closer to the goal. Barthez could easily stop it. But… he jumps the wrong way…and… the ball goes straight in…
…and players are running around all over the field. Italia fans all around the world are on their knees. Well, most of them. Sara and David are dancing around the room, screaming and jumping up and down like they just won the lottery. Greg jumps up into Nick’s arms and holds on tight. Nick… just hugs back.
Players are going hysteric. Some are running up and down the field, others are tackling each other to the ground, and others are hugging teammates like no tomorrow.
“Oh hell yeah! I just won $200!”
“I thought you said you didn’t bet on sports.”
“Well Nick, if Italy had lost I wouldn’t have said anything.”
Everyone settled back down to watch the trophy presentations. Sara laughed when they announced Zidane wasn’t up there to receive his silver medal. And then she was almost in tears watching the Italians receive the World Cup trophy.
The four watched as Materazzi placed the red, green, and white hat onto the trophy.
“Dude I should so buy one of those hats. I’d look super cool in it.”
“Greg, you have a bad enough reputation as a terrible dresser. Are you sure you want to add on to that by buying a stupid thing like that?”
“Oh David, you're just jealous that you don’t have my keen sense of style.”
“Children, children. Please. I don’t want an argument before I have to go to bed.”
“Whatever mother,” David said as he gave her a light shove on the shoulder.
Sara just shook her head.
They all watched for a few more minutes before Sara got up from the couch. “Well, I’d best be going. I need to catch some sleep. The game lasted forever.”
“Thanks for hangin’ with me guys. I appreciate it.”
“No problem Greg.”
Sara started opening the door when Nick stopped her.
“Hey, do any of you guys have Tuesday off?”
“Not me,” Sara replied.
“Me either,” David chimed in. “Why?”
“No reason. See you guys later.”
David closed the door behind him. Nick and Greg stayed lying there on the couch for a while.
“Why’d you ask about Tuesday? I mean I do have it off as well, but why?”
“Oh it’s nothing.”
“Well, since seeing that they were here watching soccer, that they might like watching other sports here too.”
“Oh really? Like what?’
“See, on Tuesday is Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game.”
Greg shook his head. “Oh honey, nobody watches baseball.”
Nick laughed and pulled Greg closer to him. Greg really had no idea how many people would disagree with him on that.