Thursday, June 24, 2010

Football Ain't Round!

 I've got a bit of a problem.

I don't like soccer.  Football.  Whatever.

It's not that I'm just not a big sports fan, although I'm not. 

I actively dislike the game. 

There is nothing about soccer that I like.  The finesse is lost on me.  It's not a Beautiful Game.  It's slow and dull and I'd rather stare at a wall painted two years ago and think back to the day I watched it dry.  To me, it's just kicking the ball around and not scoring. 

And I'm sorry, a draw is not a result.  A draw is the lack of a result.   

Normally, this leaves me out of a fair few conversations at the pub or the barber shop, but I get by.  That was before the World Cup. These days, I can't seem to find any sort of human contact with less than 50% soccer content. 

I thought I'd managed to dodge a bullet when Ireland didn't qualify.  There was a bit of grumbling, and railing at the unfairness of the universe in general and the French in particular, but it blew over fairly quickly, and I could be sure there would be no local favorite to support.  There might be fairly universal support for whoever might be playing England or France at any given moment, but it looked like I was to be spared the full force of the World Cup experience.  To further discourage diehard fans, I decided to respond to any soccer comments with the phrase “Aw! Cute!”

Then the US started playing well.

Now, as I understand it, "well" is a relative term.  They didn't suck badly enough to fall at the first hurdle.   And “not all that bad” turned out to be good enough.

As a result, I'm expected to care.  I'm expected to cheer with the national pride denied my neighbors, to somehow take credit for the American team's success, referring to them as "we" and "us."  I’m supposed to run through the streets draped in the stars and stripes chanting “USA! USA!” and generally feeling quite good about myself because a bunch of guys with passports that look like mine weren’t as bad as expected.

Sometimes, I try to take the path of least resistance and just play along, nodding and smiling noncommittally as friends and acquaintances attempt to bask in the glow of my excitement.  That only works if they're willing to leave well enough alone.  Once they start asking questions, start looking for details and juicy morsels, I have to confess my apathy.  Everything I know of the World Cup, I learned in 10 word headlines before tuning out. 

To be honest, I sort of hope the American team doesn’t win.  I’m not being unfaithful or unpatriotic, and I don’t actually wish them ill.  I just think victory would mean more to another team. 

You see, I'm not alone.  The generation behind me grew up playing soccer, and it's far more popular than it was in years past, but as far as I can tell, the US still doesn't care about soccer.  I don’t see that changing any time soon, so I'd rather the winning team returns home to a heroes' welcome, not some half-hearted national pat on the head. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

An Ill Wind

Over the past few years in this house, we’ve made a concerted effort to improve our eating habits. Cola, crisps, tortilla chips, chewy gooey jelly animals, chocolate covered peanuts named after rap stars, and assorted Enemies of Longevity have been stricken from the shopping list. Gone too are the ready made sauces, the instant meals, the just add water mixes and packets of flavoured powders, along with frozen meat covered in breadcrumbs and pressed into oddly familiar and reassuring shapes.

We’ve gone over to the other side.

Until recently, some of these steps had to be made covertly for the sake of our son. Thanks to a good tomato sauce recipe and a well used blender, his intake of vegetables was actually pretty good. Curry hides things well too, but he was still an unwitting and unwilling participant.

Then came the Food Dudes.

This was the name of a nutrition program implemented by schools all over the country. Kids got rewards for trying fruits and vegetables. Yes, they were bribed into submission.   And don't forget the propaganda! The Food Dudes (hmm, anyone else sense an American influence here?) promote food from the garden and trash sweet and salty snacks. Clearly, there is a concerted effort to brainwash our children with these radical antijunkist indoctrination techniques.

Worked like a charm too.

Since this program took off, our boy’s gotten a lot more adventurous, not just with fruit and vegetables, but with food in general. He’s more curious about foods, more open minded and willing to try new things.

He’s also a lot more nutrition conscious, and is proud of himself for making healthy choices. Being good parents, we do what we can to support this interest. We make sure he has plenty of good options, and we lead by example. Thanks to the Food Dudes, we’re all getting more fruit and veg in our diet.

Pop quiz for all the vegetarians out there: remember what happened when you first changed your diet? Remember when your intake of fiber suddenly went through the roof? Do you recall any consequences from this sudden shift?

Or here’s one for everyone: ever drive through the countryside with the family on a hot summer’s day with all the windows wide open? Ever scramble to roll those windows up when you strayed a little too close to a farm? Do you recall anyone making some reference to “fresh country air?”

We stink, people. Our home is awash in a haze of “fresh country air.” Thanks to the Food Dudes, we don’t dare light a match and our windows rattle with alarming regularity.

And speaking of alarming regularity… 

You'll have to excuse me.  I may be a minute.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010