NOTES FROM THE HOLLOW/KREUZBERG (7, EM Special)
Notes from the Hollow/Kreuzberg (7, EM Special)
Watching soccer. I enjoy it. But watching soccer with the family, a new chapter in our family history, opens up an entirely new field of conflict. The poles of this conflict would be as follows: the husband, who loves soccer, and who, at one time, even as his peer group called him “Embryo” with impunity, wanted to turn pro. Who thus watches soccer “seriously”, not as a social occasion, but rather, indeed, as a sporting event.
Then there’s the son: five and a half years old. This year he’s traded in his profoundly deep love of dinosaurs for a love of sports, and has freaked out just as passionately about the subject. And so, just as he formerly could distinguish every Triceratoopteristyracoquetzalopterix from the others, he now knows how to arrange every player on ALL of the teams in order by strengths and weaknesses. And just as he formerly admonished his (earnestly-kneeling dino-depicting) mother: “Mama, that one doesn’t go ‘rrrrrawrrr,’ he’s an herbivore!”, he now expects absolute devotion to the new material. And asks for it: rather explicitly, rather frequently, and RATHER LOUDLY.
And me, well, as I said: watching soccer? I enjoy it. Who has won the most header duels in the Spanish league? I can’t exactly say. But hey, they all make with the “Rrrrrawrrr” sound, that much is certain.
And then there is the little daughter, who quite possibly helped coin the term “social occasion”, and who sits the whole time at my feet, smeared with either somewhat pricey makeup or today’s lunch, singing: “THE! ELEPHANT! SITS! IN! THE! TREE! AND SINGS A SONG! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!” Now and then she stands, pulls me by the hair toward her and bellows, at such close range that her eyes merge into one meta-eye, “HEY! I’M SINGING AN ELEPHANT-SONG!!!”
And there I am, actually rather enjoying soccer. When I really get into it. When a game is not tremendously enthralling, though, I can sometimes lose focus. Then I’m distracted by musings such as these: Doesn’t Pirlo look like Roberto Benigni? What does the commentator mean about “Pirlo’s melancholy facial expression?” Is Pirlo thinking, “Ah, the ball, it reminds me of the past… goal, no goal, what does it mean in the end? Is life beautiful? Are we not all just a tiny speck in…” Or: doesn’t Buffon literally mean “clown”? And: take a look, that sportscaster Katrin Müller-Hohenstein looks like an alien. No, wait a minute, that’s not it, there’s just somebody, no, wait, something, just like that in some old TV series… Star Trek? Naaah. “OH!” I cry suddenly, grabbing my husband by the hair, pulling him over to me and bestowing upon him, meta-eye to meta-eye, my revelation: “THE! FIFTH! ELEMENT!!! THAT WAS IT! THIS CRITTER HERE, THE ONE WITH THE THINGY! THE ONE WITH THE HITLER HAIRCUT! THAT’S WHAT SHE LOOKS LIKE!!!! AND LOOK; SHE’S WEARING A SILVER GADGET; HAHAHAHAHA; JUST LOOK!!!”
At that point my husband reminds himself that he has learned to appreciate my excitability, in other situations, and remains calm. Sensing his vibe, though, I refrain from further comment, and keep these observations to myself:
Funny how with all these national anthems, even if you don’t comprehend the text exactly, you still know what it’s about, and that the sentiment is the same everywhere… Apart from the fact that there are a few countries whose anthems strike me as a bit more militaristic and old-fashioned than ours… “To the swo-o-o-o-ords, blo-o-o-o-ood, and so-o-o-o-oil…” I’ve heard only one national anthem in my life that seemed to convey something different. It was the anthem of Dominica, a small Caribbean island with no airport. The Dominicans sing a beautiful melody, in the best Disneyesque sentiment, to things like “waterfa-a-a-alls” and “shapely tree-e-e-ees…”
Color commentator Oliver Kahn is talking about somebody being “a bank.” How long has that expression been around? So it’s meant positively, as a synonym for oh, say, dependability and stability? As in, “Hey, that Podolski, he’s a real stash tucked into the mattress…” Or this: “That Schweinsteiger, the season hasn’t really begun for him, thanks to all his injuries he really just a savings account…”
And: just what is wrong with the ZDF television network? Is it out of order? Just how slowly and stupidly and amateurishly can you report about what is ultimately a rather brisk game? Personally, the constant ebb and flow of adrenaline throws me out of whack… During the game, it’s constantly: “Zig! Boom! Huddlehuddlehuddle, thingies going boom, zigs into zags,…” Then, accompanied by a noise like a TGV train coming to an emergency stop, “And now, back to Zeeeeeee… Deeeeeee…… Ehhhhfff…fff…fff…fff….”
Commercial break. A perkily airbrushed modeling student named “Vanessa, Soprano” seeks companionship with a 42-year-old, plump family man.
And back again. The ratings-hungry foreign correspondent has cornered Giovanni Trappatoni and asks him: “Deed zeh game go ezz you epeditted? Expedited? Spitted it? Spited it?” … Silence. New attempt. “Zees was zeh last game of Eye-lahnd, oder? Veel you steh vees Eye-lahnd?”
Trappatoni regards him mischievously for a long moment, looking rather like Bilbo Baggins — and yes, I remember that I’ve already said the same thing elsewhere about Pope Benedict. Bilbo Bene Trappatoni says: “Brabrabrabrabbbra Brmmm Brabrabrab” (in German or English or Hobbit), and the foreign correspondent translates: “So, by and large, Trappatoni said, ‘Hmmm. Oh well. Whatever.’” But now back to….. (TGV emergency brake noise): Kaaaa…. treeeeen….. annnnnnd….. Ohhhhhhhh…. lleeeeeee…..
But it doesn’t happen. Instead, the foreign correspondent is still standing there, and now somebody is carrying a cable through the shot. Bene Trappatoni grins diabolically as he puts a ring on his finger.
Minutes later, with Kaaaatreeeeen and Olleeeeee, a new recruit: a perky student/soprano/model with a laptop laughs with Ollie, noting how stupid he is because he can’t tweet, while she can. Together they giggle as they tweet the menu for Ollie’s dinner, to the accompaniment of growling stomachs.
And as I keep all that to myself, Ollie answers a question about whether Manuel Neuer is permitted to move so far away from the goal: “You know, back in my day I played a little soccer, too, and if a forward had ever strayed into midfield I would have said, ‘What are you doing here? Go back to your position…’”
And Pola says dryly, “That’s what you think you said. But in reality you said: ‘Uhh! Aahhhggg! Aieeee!’” He strikes himself on the forehead and chest in true Kahnesque fashion.
I pull him by the hair to me and, with deep affection, look him in the meta-eye. For a moment everything is totally quiet. Then Mimi howls, “Uhh! Aahhhggg! AIEEEEE!”, and slugs her father in the chest. She falls face-first into the pretzel sticks and drifts off to sleep. Friedrich murmurs, “Trappatoni… Herbivore… Rrrrawr…”, and trudges upstairs to bed. My husband turns the TV off.