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Everything Else is Purple Prose

“The ball is round; the game lasts 90 minutes; everything else is pure theory.”
— Attributed to Sepp Herberger

The World Cup begins tomorrow. This means, of course, that it’s time for romantics worldwide to abandon themselves to a monthlong orgy of self-indulgence. For most of us, this just means plopping down on barstools before 7 am, or sneaking out of work for a long lunch in order to get worked up over a match between two countries that we couldn’t confidently find on a map, but for professional writers, such as novelist Rabih Alameddine, the urge to channel this quadrennial folie à deux billion into published prose is apparently irresistible:

A soccer game is a Wagner opera. The narrative sets up, the tension builds, the music ebbs and flows, the strings, the horns, more tension, and suddenly a moment of pure bliss, trumpet-tongued Gabriel sings, and gods descend from Olympus to dance—this peak of ecstasy.

During these moments, I no longer am my usual self, no longer human. I am connected to life. Call it bliss, call it ecstasy, call it what you will.

In that moment, I not only see God, I am God.

I am not only connected to life, I am connected to my TV!

Of course, not every game has these moments, just like not every opera is Wagnerian. Some games are delightful Puccinis, others are Verdis.

None are a Lady Gaga song.

The TV and Lady Gaga remarks suggest that his tongue is in the general vicinity of his cheek, but when a soccer fanatic gets on a roll like this, no amount of ironic self-awareness can dilute the pathos. (“I always considered the 1812 Overture to be the best allegory for the male orgasm, while Wagner, with its peaks, more female,” he goes on to say.)

I plan to join in the global madness too, but it may be prudent for me to keep this blog football free, lest I start waxing operatic myself…