EM 2008: On to the Semifinals

I had just gotten home from a long day of teaching and meetings and was planning to make a big bowl of popcorn and do a couch-potato evening and watch Germany get beaten by Portugal on the TV.

The phone rang, and it was my friend Ann. She teaches German at a high school in the mid-western US, and she occasionally accompanies a bunch of high school kids on a tour of Germany. We usually manage to see each other for a couple of hours. She is now no longer organizing the tours herself because of liability questions, but the students purchase the trip from a company and the company pays for Ann's travel in exchange for her babysitting the bunch.

She had to hand around the lobby of the hotel because the kids come by with problems (Which bus do I take? How do I find an Internet cafe? Why are all these crazy people wrapped in flags, wearing black-red-gold wigs, and carrying six-packs shoving through the streets?). But we could have a coffee together in the lobby. I grabbed a sandwich and headed out.

We sat before the game with some of the students, they had lots of questions I couldn't answer: Were all the trees natural or were they planted? Who built the castle? Who lived there? I was telling them that they should try and be at the Ku-Damm at 10.30 pm to watch either the Portugese or the Germans parade up and down when some older couples streamed in to watch the game on the TV in the hotel bar. They offered the kids their transferable day passes for mass transit, and off they went!

Ann and I got cozy on some bar stools easily visible to passing students, the older couples settled in for the game, and we had a lovely chat. Suddenly, there was a roar. And someone shot off fireworks. It was as if Germany had sighed and enormous sigh of relief. Schweini, Bastian Schweinsteiger, released them from their fears of losing. The atmosphere in the bar changed from taut concentration to enjoyment of the game.

We continued discussing, but were again interrupted by a goal. Well, 2 goals should be enough, although it ain't over until the fat lady sings. We say that in the States about sports, I looked up the meaning the other day. Is from the Niebelungen, a loooooooooooong German opera. In the end, Brunhilde, a corpulent dame, sings. So it ain't over until the fat lady sings.

Second half, we had progressed to discussions of her children, one is studying "Evolutionary Biology". She waited, smiling, for my "WTF?" to kick in. When I went to school, it was called "Biology". Seems that in the Midwest, if not all over the States, you can choose to study "Evolutionary Biology" or "Intelligent Design Biology". Yuck. Her son, being intelligent, chose the former.

The chatter stops in the bar - oops, Portugal got a goal. We continue with US politics, deciding that the best would be for Obama to do the representative stuff and Hillary the policy work. Glad we got that settled, but no idea if anyone will listen to us. On to the problems of the educational systems. We have similar views on this, and notice that Germany is copying all the bad ideas from the Americans. The upshot is that neither group is getting a real education.

Another sigh of relief - Michael Ballack gets the third goal. Now the Germans are happy again. They don't even mind the second goal of the Portuguese. The old saw "soccer is a game with 11 on a side in which Germany always wins" remains true.

And when the game is over, the streets erupt. Fireworks, screaming, honking horns. We send the kids milling around outside to have a look.

It was a wonderful chat we had, what a shame they are so seldom. And I suppose it was a nice game.


brainerror said...

They study _either_ Evolutionary _or_ ID Biolody? I've always believed they're doing at least both.

Apart from that, the semi finals look really promising. I'll switch-on my TV as soon as the game's over to enjoy Berlin Burning.

brainerror said...


Mildly interesting, isn't it?