Chelsea Captain John Terry cries after missing the penalty kick that cost his team the Cup.
last night i watched some English football. specifically, an exhibition match where the United States was playing against England. as you probably know, this was of particular interest to me, being an American who now lives in England. the plan was set, a few pints of Stella were purchased for the occasion and for only the second time in my long life i sat down to watch an English football match.
i didn't want to be too obvious in my hopes that the U.S. would win, but being low-profile is not my forte. the whole evening i was thinking to myself (and probably muttering): "i hope we beat those f-ing Englishmen."
then i realized something terrible: David Beckham was playing for ENGLAND'S team.
"what the hell is he doing?" i exclaimed -- and i immediately hated him for running back to England, even though it's America that currently finances he and his scary wife's gluttonous lifestyle. i was informed that the players did not have to be playing professionally for the country on whose team they played in this particular match. in short, this match didn't mean much to anyone at all for any reason -- the stadium wasn't even full. nobody cared, it seemed -- except for me. i wanted to see something American triumph at the new Wembley stadium.
but wait. before i talk more about the match itself i want to mention how the producers opened it. surprisingly, the first thing they did after the players lined-up was put a woman at a microphone on the pitch (known in America as the FIELD) to sing America's national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner."
and this is always a potentially horrible two minutes.
if you're American you're probably used to seeing various gospel, country or R&B renditions of "The Star-Spangled Banner" performed before a major sporting event -- particularly baseball and NFL games -- and if you've seen these, you already know that the poor anthem gets mangled and rearranged into impossibly ugly renditions more often than not. and this match was no exception. the woman singing was all over the place. she got the words right, as far as i could tell, but she was so... umm... BIG in her rendition that the frigging audio system at the new Wembley Stadium was popping and crackling all over the place. it was pretty embarrassing. i'm not sure if the woman's voice was to blame, or the audio person working inside the stadium, but either way it made listening to my national anthem a shitty little experience.
getting back to the actual match, i must admit that i really, truly wanted to see John Terry (captain of Chelsea Football Club AND captain of England's team in this match) score a goal. this was because last week i watched him lose a penalty kick in the Champions League final against Manchester United in Moscow, which cost Chelsea the Cup. the poor guy had the entire match riding on his shoulders -- just one man -- and when Man. U. won, John Terry sobbed and sobbed like only a deeply defeated man can. so, i wanted the guy to score a point in this match against the U.S., even though i deeply wanted the U.S. to win.
and guess what.
he did score. and his goal (a crazy header, no less) turned out to be the first of two goals scored which led to the U.S. being defeated 2 - 0.
when the match ended, my attention turned to the commentary of three hosts, all of which were men from the United Kingdom. and what i heard kinda upset me. one commentator criticized: "the Americans are a team of spoilers." later another commentator said: "Americans are a poor side."
now, since i've been in England i've felt my share of American paranoia. when i'm out in public i speak quietly -- so people won't hear my American accent. i try to lie low because i know that for some ridiculous reason most Europeans dislike Americans. not me specifically, but every single person who says they're American or just SOUNDS American. i'm not sure exactly when or why this dislike of Americans by Europeans and Brits began, but i think it was probably long before September 11th.
and it drives me up the wall.
what have Americans done to England -- other than the obvious Revolution back in 1776 -- or perhaps technically 1781-83? near as i can tell, people seem to make fun of Americans for... umm... having a lot of land and and opportunities and money and religious freedom? yeah, that's a GREAT reason to dislike an entire nation of people you've never met. and i'm not going to get up on my soap box and talk about how great my home country is, because everyone pretty much loves their homeland no matter where they're from, and that's great. i just wanted to say that i feel unfairly disliked in my NEW home, England, and it's primarily because i'm American.
i don't know who pissed in the English football commentators' Wheaties yesterday morning, but it must have been pretty fucking bitter to make them speak so rudely about a visiting team that had already lost with zero points. i mean, REALLY. the English have a reputation in America for being civilized, proper and well-read, but it seems almost everywhere i turn i run into someone dissing me, or speaking negatively about Americans or barreling into me on the sidewalk without saying excuse me.
so let's get one thing straight everybody: Americans are not perfect, but neither are the REST of you.
we would all do well to remember that the next time a foreigner tries to call a new country their home. maybe try to be nice to them -- or at least, don't be so stinking mean.