The inevitability of football is true here. This week, there is an occasion which will be a lifetime rarity, that I am doomed to miss - A Brazil-Argentina football match, in a Brazilian stadium. The tickets are being scalped for 15 times price. I had sort of made a bet that I would go in wearing the blue and white stripes (the Argentine colours), then quickly realizing that security cameras will only postscript my fate.
Today there was a small league match here - a couple of local teams. I discovered an interesting little tidbit of information about Brazilians - they watch the television version of the game, but listen to the radio commentary. Here is why:
There are two commentators, Yin and Yang. Yin follows the ball, and Yang, the maestro, talks about the higher level hypotheses. The ball-follower has a pipe running into one nostril that allows him oxygen, so that he can speak without stop for 180-second intervals, in a flow of words that matches blows with the average auctioneer, with the range of emotion to put the average tamil melodrama to shame.
They have heart attacks here, several of them. And there would be more if it weren't for Yang, the philosopher. Yin gets you charged, he starts (always he) with the ball, and his voice runs like a camels hump through little ups and downs and slowly it starts building up. I was listening to the commentary in a car stereo, in Portuguese, and it did not matter that I couldn't get a word of it, the tension was implicit nonetheless.
The slow build up clearly moves towards a crescendo. Yin gets faster, and faster as the ball moves towards the half-line, and faster as it hovers around the opponent's side, then suddenly blips just a little, possibly a back-pass, and it starts again, building slowly and surely, the endless flow of words, which with a remarkable suddenness of a field opportunity rises to a sudden roaring peak - and you fall off the chair practically - what just happened?
There was a kick, but it was yet yet another missed opportunity. Yang now steps in - "ah, yet another great moment, in our club's history" and continues with statistics on the failed kick and its angle of fall, the kicker and his history of such failure, and occasional success. Yin meantime a deep breath and continues the next one-minute cycle as the ball now moves over towards his half, in the hands / legs of the visiting team. Then once again, Yang comes and allays all our fears and our excitement, reminding us this move has failed over and over before, and says with unambiguous peace "if they only made passes like in the old days" it would all be different.
"What happened, what happened" I would keep jumping, only to be told over and over again, "oh, nothing, which is what he just said" and it starts to get to get incredibly tense, feeling like every minute, someone raised his decibel level by one more unit, and everytime a new letdown. Then you realize, when the goal does happen, there is no doubt about it, no need to ask what happened. It isn't another word in Portuguese which will pass you by. It does not have one "o" - it goes for a mile "goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooal"
Every Brazilian is a coach, I am told. This is true - the popular pastime for TV crews here is to ask random people what their opinion on the team is, and how things can be improved. Needless to say, even I have an opinon by now about where Ronaldo should be standing when the game begins.