Bonjour mes amis! With all the thrill of the Pop World Cup you may have missed that there’s actually another kind of World Cup happening at the moment, related to a sport called football! And whether like me you’re in Paris for work, or just fancy a holiday so you can yell at the screen Abroad rather than At Your Local, here is a non-French-speaking guide to watching the World Cup in Paris.
Whom to root for
(In descending order. For matches between teams on the list, go with the higher-ranked of the two.)
- France: Obviously.
- Algeria, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire: Or as they’re known here, “basically France from before”. (Is this true? Not in the slightest! Does this matter? Also not in the slightest!)
- Belgium, Switzerland: Automatic approval of anywhere else where French is an official language.
- The Netherlands: The French electorate may disapprove of Hollande but Parisians apparently love Holland (I have no idea why, possibly just Van Persie’s glorious header winning all our hearts).
- Whoever happens to be playing Germany at the time: You’re not the boss of Europe, Angela!!!
Where to watch
As the weather is nice and literally everywhere is showing la Coupe de Monde, every twenty feet or so you’ll find a tabac with a terrasse and wine for less than €3 a glass. Sit in a corner table with a good view of the screen and click your teeth when tall thin disaffected men with scarves and cigarettes stand in front of you to chat about, who knows, Sartre or Proust or something.
During halftime some locals may attempt to engage you in conversation. Look apologetic and struggle through a short conversation about what you think is team affiliation: “Oh, oui, Uruguay, oui!”. Later discover you have inadvertently claimed to be from Montevideo.
After the second half the locals may invite you to come along to their friend’s bar for the 12am England match, as the tabac is closing. Agree enthusiastically with a pleased air of international friendship and solidarity. Everyone will head outside and immediately all pile into a car, leaving you slightly nervous but unable to politely refuse due to previous enthusiasm. Wonder what the Parisian equivalent of Zone 5 is and whether you will soon find out. Feel relieved but extremely bemused when the driver goes 100 yards in a straight line and everyone hops out again.
At the second location there may be the opportunity to bet on the game behind the bar. Place €2 on England with the expectation of losing but the faint vague hope of making back enough for une verre du vin (€3.19). When you return from the bar, a bottle of rough house red will have appeared on the table, as well as birthday cake for one of the locals. Text a friend to ask if they want to come along: “at a bar somewhere in the 11th or poss 20th, on big road, blue door, looks closed but we’re in here!!” Friend somehow figures out which bar you mean and makes it inside; assume this is universal Parisian superpower.
Accidentally lock yourself in the toilets and emerge ten minutes later to the entire bar smirking at you. Mumble something stroppy about Lafayette and Washington and sit down.
At the end of the match, dramatically tear up your reçu de €2 and say: “Ugh, Rooney.” Everyone will nod in agreement and sympathy.
Try to think of any French players’ names to discuss and fail.
Say feelingly, “Poor Casillas.”
Everyone will nod.
Key vocabulary words and phrases
La balle: Ball
Un but/le gardien: Goal/goalkeeper
Le arbitre: Who is this idiot?
Le, uh, de Angleterre, you know, Monsieur Rooney: The England team
Larmes de Ronaldo: One of the most glorious sights of the tournament
Le prolongation: Overtime (or indeed regular time depending on how poorly your team is playing)
Ce un coup!: Holy shit, that was a beautiful shot!
Vraiment? (delivered witheringly): Stop rolling around like a prat, he barely touched you.
Xaviiiiiiii: Wail of dismay from Spain supporters (obsolete)
(Soz for the late posting, yr correspondent has completed a GRUELLING 25-HOUR JOURNEY across many time zones including correspondent’s British spouse being detained by US Homeland Security for 2.5 hours of fun! But all HOME SAFE now albeit in an awkward timezone for posting.)
Again the mother of the household is frying latkes in the first scene (we’re 3 for 4 here), again there is an interfaith family (4 for 4), again there is a stilted explanatory “What is the story of Hanukkah?” scene (3 for 4) and holy crap is that Ray Charles? Holy fuck what is Ray Charles doing in this! Oh man! This is already the best Hanukkah ever!
Hey, it’s tiny Shia LaBeouf! It’s the day before Hanukkah, and he is searching the house for hidden presents, a materialistic narrative all children, Jewish or goyish, can relate to.
Downstairs, Mama LaBeouf is frying too-perfect latkes while the rest of the family hovers hungrily (but not actually helpfully). “You know what Mom, you haven’t told us the Hanukkah story since we were little kids,” a brunette teenager prompts.
“Well,” she begins. “Your ancestors – from my side of the family,” and it’s INTERFAITHSPOSITION AWAY as we find this is yet another Hanukkah being celebrated by a mixed family. I have nothing against interfaith familes – indeed, I’m part of one – but SERIOUSLY do no Jews marry Jews in TV land?
Is it though? IS IT?!
NB I have never seen an episode of The OC before and watched this while (a) drunk and (b) packing. So I may have missed some subtleties, but actually looking back I don’t think so.
Chag sameach! And so long to advent calendars and welcome to EIGHT FT NIGHTS of Hanukkah TV specials. Although your correspondent doubted eight Hanukkah-related TV episodes or specials existed in the whole of pop culture, having dredged the depths of 1980s cartoons and 1990s sitcoms it turns out there are at least TEN! But we’re not going to do ten.
Nickelodeon classic cartoon Rugrats features an interfaith Jewish-Christian family and more holiday specials than you can shake a baby at. The episode titled “Chanukah” features adventure, drama, triumph, grown-up Hebrew jokes and two bad puns around “Maccabee”:
The other one, for the record, is “To be or Maccabee”.
Poor Rosalia, the only Puerto Rican in West Side Story who seems to actually like Puerto Rico. In contrast to Maria, who prances around the bridal shop pretending to be Miss America (despite the competition being open only to members “of good health and of the white race” at the time), and Anita, whose witty and leggy defence of their adopted home is the basis of the catchiest song in the show and indeed FREAKY TRIGGER’S #10 BEST SINGLE OF ALL TIME, Rosalia is OK with Puerto Rico. In the play script she is described as “quietly dressed and not too bright”, which might explain why she doesn’t really have a problem with the Sharks’ homeland (although it does not explain why the costumers for the 2009 revival gave her such stupid hair). But Puerto Rico, according to Rosalia, is kind of okay. You know, it’s pretty. There are some nice tropical breezes and pineapples there. Maybe sometime she’d like to go back and visit.
NOT SO FAST, IMMIGRANT! You’ve made your choice and you can never go back!
[pic: also, in America, girls don’t wear ponytails on top of their heads. Join us in the first world, chiquita!]