Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Day San Francisco Won the World Cup

I ran out of coffee and went to my favorite cafe in North Beach to buy some. My first clue that something was up was the lack of parking spaces, which I blamed on tourists cruising for cannoli. When I finally snagged one by lurking in a back alley until somebody left, I found myself down a rabbit hole of immense proportions. Everyone who ever lived came back to earth today to parade in vehicles and on foot, screaming and waving Italian flags.

"Aha," I thought. "Surely it must be an Italian festival day of which I am not aware." It was clearly a great excuse for public drunkenness. All manner of folks were strolling and swigging out of paper bags, normally the province of derelicts.

If any hapless souls in this city had a fire today, they were out of luck because the entire firefighting force was promenading hooks and ladders down Columbus Avenue. Shrieking girls in bikinis waved Italian flags from sunroofs, although it was a bit unclear what, exactly, they were advertising.

There were battling marching bands in red, white and green uniforms as well as a guy dressed (only) in an Italian flag. It was St. Patrick's Day without the Irish.

My coffee shop was blaring some godawful "music" that sounded like a cross between disco and rap, breaking the decibel barrier and a lot of eardrums. Even with palms clamped firmly to my ears, it was painful, so I left without coffee beans. Long line, and I'm not really a junkie. Besides, there was no way the barista could have heard my order.

I finally asked a young man reveling on the sidewalk what Italian holiday this was. To his credit, he didn't say, "You moron," but gleefully explained that Italy had just won the World Cup. To my credit, I didn't ask him what sport it was in.

"This is really BIG for Italy," he said. "We have a new holiday."

The celebrations are expected to continue for the rest of my life.


jali said...

Love this story!

No one I know follows soccer regularly but they've all been acting as though they're experts in the field and color commentators since these finals started.

It would have been hilarious if you'd asked, "what sport" just to see what the guy's reaction might have been.

There weren't similar celebrations here in Atlanta that I'm aware of -probably just too hot.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Hot, yes, but also if Atlanta doesn't have a Little Italy like NYC or a North Beach like SF, that could explain a certain degree of ennui.