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Sunday, June 22, 2014

ABC as easy as 123

Without the aid of a tape recorder, DVD or book, I have been learning to count in Spanish, and other dialects, by watching the World Cup with the commentating in any language but English.  It has not been for want of trying, but having to produce passwords, codewords and the promise of my firstborn, it has not been readily available on my computer.  Considering the majority of the commentary has been players' names, countries, respective league teams, and numbers, the language difference has not been too much of a challenge. 

Being one of two daughters born to a mostly armchair footballer, a lot of our childhood memories of a Sunday afternoon, between September and May, were watching the replay of the previous day's, 'Match of the Day'.  Learning the dynamics of the game were just as important as learning the rules, and learning to appreciate the oppositions 'good play' was also an art.  The FA cup final, although always played at Wembley, was watched at alternative locations. Sometimes it was watched at our house, and sometimes at our neighbours.  Mum would feign disinterest, and I have distinct memories of her always having a pile of ironing set up at kick-off, but the radio was tuned into the game.  The kettle would always be 'on' just before half time, so that a cup of tea was set before the supporters during the fifteen minute break.  Her head would appear around the corner after a goal, perhaps to see the reaction of the watchers, or perhaps to see the replay!  It was never a quiet occasion, as we cheered, groaned, shouted encouragement, or more often than not, suggested that the referee make an appointment with his optician!

I love a good game of football, or soccer as it is known in this part of the world, or futbol, in Spanish.  Listening to the Liverpudlian commentator on the English speaking broadcast, reminds me of home.  Listening to the same commentary in Spanish was far more emotional and vibrant.  I hope I will be forgiven if my analysis of the American commentator offends, but is like listening to an elementary school teacher, reprimanding a child for misbehaving! 

My ability to watch the three games a day, at 11am, 2pm and 5pm, have been rudely interrupted by having to do some work!  I have managed to get the word processing function of my computer to one side of the screen and the game to the other.  However, I have not yet managed to get anyone else to answer the telephone, and there has been the odd occasion when I have picked up the receiver, after a magnificent shot at goal, or a terrible play by the preferred team, that the caller has questioned, 'Tracie?  Are you okay?'   As I find it next to impossible to watch a match without some sort of verbal retort, my colleagues have been subjected to random outbursts of, 'NO!!!;  YES!!!!; OH COME ON!!!!'    It has been virtually impossible for those who have said that they have no interest, not to take an interest!  After all, the American team have succeeded where the English have not!! 

Samantha had the advantage of a password!  Edward's employment package allows them a complete free view of most 'paid for' channels.  I managed to find a television station, situated in the remote parts of Sudamerica, or America del Sur, where Futbol is King! As the ball ran down to the other end of the pitch, and a corner kick was awarded, the commentator would become more animated, and count the players running forward, 'Uno, dos, tres, CUAtro, CINCO!'  However a score appears to be the same in all languages, and as the advanced stereo system which is built into my computer, roared, 'Gooooaaaaallll', and I verbalised my appreciation or disappointment, with a positive or negative word, it was of great distress to my daughter, whose advanced technological system, the one which required the password because of its superiority, was streaming ten or more seconds behind!  By the time the third match was played, she relented and added the details needed to my computer.

Fortunately, I do have other Europeans around to perform autopsies on the games that have been played.  My German neighbour, Frank, and I were doing just that at the pool last weekend.  As Germany were playing their second match on Saturday afternoon, Samantha and I thought we would be alone by the pool.  However, another neighbour was celebrating a birthday, and she had invited some friends over for a party.  As our pool is 'communal', the invitation to fiesta was open to all.  It was very quiet to begin with, and with our 'app' in place, (Dana upstairs watching the match, and texting the scores at the top of every minute) we had the best of both worlds!  The pool started to fill with ninos, and the fiesta began.  Within cinco minutes, everything was in full swing.  In an attempt to make us feel part of the group, my neighbour introduced us to her twin sister, and other amigos.  Our accents, as always, were detected, and we were included immediately.  One amigo asked what part of England we were from, and I replied, with my usual answer, 'Just outside northwest London'.  He was not familiar with England at all, apart from a town from where one of his favourite musicians hailed.  Watford!  I was somewhat amazed and amused, as I announced that we lived in a village not far from there, and Samantha was actually born in the hospital in Watford, next to that very musician's favourite football club ground!  A short discussion of how the musician loved his soccer ensued and I broached the subject of the World Cup.  It would appear that the only connection the amigo actually had to futbol was Elton John!  Sensing the oncoming awkward pause, my neighbours sister commented on the tree that was shadowing the pool.  'Do you know what it is called', she asked, pointing to the branches, hoping that we could keep our end of the fiesta from being a goalless draw.  Rather quicker than me, Samantha's took a corner shot, and scored with the response; 'Sylvia!'  No one blinked.  Sarcasm unoAmigos cero!

Although we were invited to the barbacoa, which was to take place at the condo opposite mine, later that evening, my daughter and I graciously declined.  Samantha was going home before the carne would hit the grill, and I was watching the ninos getting overtired, and could only imagine their temperament in an hour or two!  The battle of wills was more like watching a game of tennis, as the parent suggested a siesta, and the child declining.  Ninos uno, parent cero!

The aroma that encompassed the complex was overpowering enough for me to crave hamburgers, something that I very rarely do!  Dana and I went to our favourite diner and were surprised to see that it was empty.  Apparently, they had not been particularly busy all day, and were as surprised as we were, that at this time on a Saturday night, there were not more patrons.  Dana suggested to the waitress that perhaps it was due to the World Cup, and she asked, 'what's that?'  I couldn't resist the reply, 'It's cero!'

We enjoyed our burgers, and uncharacteristically finished our meal in the good old fashioned American way, with a piece of pie!  Tradition uno, diet cero!

Much as I should have probably foregone breakfast on Sunday morning, my appetite dictated waffles, and Dana was only too happy to take me to IHOP, where the staff were sporting the Red, White and Blue colours (albeit in the shape of the Dutch flag!) on their faces.   They were anxious for the USA to win their game this afternoon, despite not knowing what time was 'kick off', nor whom they were playing.  However, their enthusiasm outweighed their ignorance, and they were looking forward to seeing how they fared sometime later in the day!  Passion uno, knowledge cero.

The weather in Brazilian rain forest is hot and humid, but in central Texas, specifically Austin, we were treated to a slight breeze and temperatures just below 90 degrees.  I took myself down to the pool, which was in its usual deserted state, and took out my book.  I had barely read a couple of pages when my two female neighbours arrived.  I accepted the offer of a small glass of wine, promised by KC when she returned from collecting her sunglasses, and we chatted for about an hour, sipping the fermented grape juice, in the water.  When they left, I returned to the condo to take back my lilo and sunbed, and bumped into the neighbour who had been the fiesta hostess.  Unfortunately, her air conditioning was not working, and she and her husband were frantically trying to find a repair person.  Another neighbour was giving me a running commentary, whilst walking her dog.  Ordinarily, I would have been very sympathetic and possibly offered the number of my engineer.  However, I had half a glass of wine inside me, and was already starting to feel my mouth breaking away from my brain.  Controlling my laughter was paramount, and opening my lips to say anything would be a risk.  I stood and smiled in the right places, nodded in the right places, and even managed a sigh, in the right place.  Although I did not offer anything of substance, I did not say anything stupid! Vino blanco, cero, Tracie cero!

I returned to the pool, which was again deserted, but was joined shortly afterwards by some new neighbours.  I spoke very slowly and precisely, aware that I was still in injury time.  It was a relief when Dana came down to the pool to take off the pressure.  After about an hour, we bid them farewell and went back to the condo to watch the USA game.  The vino did nothing to silence my shouts of encouragement to those who graciously adopted me!  The outcome of the game was a draw, and was certainly exiting enough to prevent me from succumbing to an alcohol induced siesta.  This time, the lightweight (as my children call me, due to my alcohol intollerance) won!

Next week is going to be a challenge.  Juggling futbol, work, and the dentist (again!) will be very interesting.  I am still not ready to go to Mexico and make myself understood, other than asking for a room number, or perhaps cafe para dos, with leches!  Of course, without the pronunciation, I risk being sent to a diner serving leeches, rather than milky coffee for two!  With another dos weeks of futbol, I may have to consider soundproofing my room, so as not to warrant any concerns by the speech therapist, who offices opposite!  If she should happen to come across and offer me uno on uno support, I shall be sure to make it ........... another story.

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