The World Cup nears its full samba-swing. As the group stage concludes, Spain (this year’s France!), Italy (this year’s Spain!), and England (this year’s Italy!) have been ushered out as Costa Rica (this year’s Paraguay!) steps into the spotlight. And you have invited an Average American and Andrés Iniesta (a little heartless of you, but Andy could probably use a night out) to enjoy a match and, hopefully, increase the chance that you can watch Champions next season on ABC instead of Roja Directa.
Our next step is to find a place to see the match. As PJ O’Rourke reminds us, the best place to host a party is someone else’s place. If you offer your place, other Average Americans might show up. They will budge Andy off the sectional, dust the linoleum with Chee-To dust and switch the HDMI from ESPNDeportes to EASports. They might even bring WAGs, who will leave your frozen pizza out to thaw into a soggy Frisbee while they chill wine coolers in your freezer.
What about the Fellow Fan’s place? His friends will show up, too, but they’ll most likely be interesting, international friends whose sisters have adorable accents and little, WAG-size jerseys. And they’ll do you better than lukewarm wine coolers and Chee-Tos. If your friend, for example, is from Argentina, you will enjoy a wide variety of smoked meat products. If your friend hails from Mexico, you won’t go thirsty. But don’t ask them about it. You don’t want to propagate cultural stereotypes.
A better option is to join a viewing party. There are viewing parties in almost all major cities; in fact, some people have suggested that the rush of red-white-and-blue painted bodies in goofy wigs and oversize sunglasses indicate a rising temperature in soccer fever among Americans. I demur. For one thing, most Americans will rush to any open urban space that promises fried food-’n’a-stick and open containers of alcohol (Occupy the State Fairgrounds!) Half the Chicagoans in this photo, for example, think they are attending Jazzfest; about 40% are psyched for Bluesfest; and at least two-thirds are going to camp out for the July 3rd fireworks. Ring the White House to ask if anyone’s headed to “The Taste” and watch Valerie Jarrett outpace Arne Duncan from Pennsylvania Avenue to Columbus Drive.
An even better option is a bar. Bars are cool, because they are air-conditioned. Also, they have a variety of seating options so you can look as cool as you feel: the snug (where you stash the WAGs); the stool (where the international sisters perch); and the footrail (where you rest your aching feet after all that standing and ogle the barmaids. Sorry: barms’s. ).
You want a viewing bar, but it’s got to be a good viewing bar. The VFW is NSFV. TGIF and BW3 are plausible, because they have lots of TVs and spinach-dip appetizers for the WAGs, but there is a risk that they flip the big screen to “TriviaTime!” and refuse to change the channel back. For an international sporting event, an international bar is best. There’s the charming Caffe Dello Sport in Boston’s North End. Oh, wait, maybe not. What about New York’s Manchester Pub, or Minneapolis’ Brits? Er. On second thought. Why not Chicago’s Café Iberico … oh, yeah.
So … ten o’clock, your place?