Ah, Spain … land of sunshine, serrano ham and guilt-free smoking … as well as Felliniesque personal interactions, Kafkaesque bureaucracies and Spielbergian cucarachas. At first, you fill your digital camera with images of wedding-cake cathedrals and futuristic Calatrava bridges; later, you seethe as yet another technicolor-haired widow elbows her way in front of you in line; and finally, you, too, are packing in a four-course meal at 2 p.m. and telling (and being told by) total strangers ‘vete a la mierda’ without a second thought.
So it’s Silly Season again (or at least until next week or so). Over the next few posts I’ll bring some Spanish Silliness to BFB. No in-depth coverage, no gotcha! interviews, no perceptive insights. Promise. Just few lighthearted observations from my recent travels to Batville And Back.
Silliest Soccer Headline: ‘Spain Smells Like Messi’
‘España no huele a ajo, sino a Messi’ (Spain doesn’t smell like garlic, it smells like Messi’); text selected and translated from an interview with Ann Gottlieb, world-renown professional perfumist, in ABC 17 June 2010.
ABC: ‘The intellectual Victoria Beckham has said that Spain smells like garlic. Have you detected anything like this here?
Gottlieb: Absolutely not. To say that Spain smells like garlic is neither physically possible nor true. I can’t imagine what she was thinking about when she said that.
ABC: So, what does Spain smell like?
Gottlieb: Like Messi!
ABC: Are you referring to the soccer player? After or before the game? Because it really wouldn’t be the same …
Gottlieb: I mean Messi as an icon at the top of his game, and I can imagine a Messi fragrance that would be deep, rich and warm, with a spark of congeniality. Memorable!
Silliest Soccer Sighting: The Eurocup
Imagine walking out of your rented flat in a mixed-use building, one use of which you strongly suspect to be of ill repute … past the Chinatown grocers, overstuffed booksellers and sex-shop parlors … to the Art Nouveau Estació del Nord where your train-crazed sons insist you breakfast … and seeing this in the parking lot:
Well, this certainly seems soccer-related, so you pause for a moment and see a small press corps surrounding a rotund balding person, so you take a picture of him too:
(You later identify this person as Valencia CF’s former footballer and current sports director, Fernando Gómez)
And then since nothing else is really going on you start to wander towards the depot when you spot something shiny on a little folding table next to the bus. There doesn’t seem to be any security besides a guy standing there looking bored, and when you nudge your four-year old towards the silver he just shrugs so you take another picture (four-year old edited out in order to protect the mischievous but innocent):
Silliest Soccer Proposal: 600K a Head
I asked the Hunky Soccer Husband which was more important to a Spaniard in a World Cup year: his club or the national team? He replied: ‘The club, because the national team never makes it to the quarterfinals anyway’. This can’t-do approach is quite Spanish in its humility (compare, for instance, the plucky gumption of the underdog Superbowl Saints’ Who Dat? versus the fatalist Deixem la pell [We’ll do the best we can!] of Champions semifinalist Barça). The June issue of Ronda, Iberian Airlines’ in-flight magazine, contains an interview with Xavi Hernández in which the mundialista midfielder expresses pretty much the same idea: ‘It’s nice to be a favored team this year, but historically we never seem to get very far’.
So the higher-ups at the Selección have come up with a special pick-me-up: 600,000 euros for every member of La Roja if Casillas lifts the Cup. This arose as a subject for debate on ‘La noche en 24 horas’ with Vicente Vallés on Televisión Española (TVE). It’s kind of a CNN ‘Situation Room’-like program, except with a more charismatic anchor, less seizure-producing graphics and viewer messages via Facebook read live on-air. Here are some of my favorite responses from the Roja faithful:
It’s an outrage when the country faces economic catastrophe!
I hope we don’t win the World Cup, it would be very expensive.
They should all be satisfied with a good jabungo.
Nothing silly ’bout that!