Friday, 4 p.m., Croatia – Brazil
Everything is getting more expensive.” That’s how the letter from the electricity supplier that João had in his mailbox today begins. As if he hadn’t noticed that himself. He almost didn’t see the letter. The light in the stairwell hasn’t been working for weeks. A rear building in the Berlin winter. Accordingly, it is pitch black there by 3.30 p.m. at the latest. The mailbox, hidden under the stairwell, always looks empty. Only precise illumination with the mobile phone flashlight shows whether there is mail inside.
João explained that the composition of the new advance payment was meticulously explained. Well, of course he doesn’t say it like that. Minutely, he knows the word, it’s almost the same in Portuguese. But explained, that is a language usage that will probably only appear after many years of daily use. The electricity provider gives excuses: Russia, Putin’s war, the usual. All of this makes it “inevitable” to raise one’s own prices and “at the same time” the amount of the monthly payment. João brought me the letter. Now it’s here in the bar, on the table between us. He’s already got two small beer stains, the paper will definitely be yellow tomorrow because of the cigarette smoke in the air. As long as it can still be seen that João has a lot more to pay from January …
I’m supposed to help João understand technocratic German. That’s why he summoned me. Not so easy, the whole thing. Firstly, my Portuguese is at best useful for conversations about football. With the electricity price brake, for example, it gets complicated. What’s the point of that name? João asks. I can’t explain it either. But there’s another reason why it’s not so easy to get João to understand the content of the letter from his electricity supplier: It’s noisy where we are – and football is playing. Quarterfinals, Croatia vs Brazil. Everything is going according to plan for the Seleção: “They’re electrified,” says João. He learned the phrase today.
Croatia 1-4 Brazil
They walked through their new apartment, sat down on the floor and drank Bordeaux. They unpacked the boxes and aired them. They had arrived (“at home”).
An argument broke out over a sweater that both needed because of the cold.
The move-in was “celebrated” together with a couple, childhood friends of Edmondsson.
While Edmondsson prepared supper in the kitchen, there was silence in the drawing room. The guests “crossed their legs” (embarrassed?), looked around, smiled a few times, and then began to talk.
Without paying any attention to him, they talked about vacation trips and other things they had experienced together. “Then, since Edmondsson still didn’t come back, they grabbed any magazines that were within their reach.”
He got up and turned on the stereo. He had chosen a record by Charles Trenet, the guests obviously didn’t like the music, Pierre-Etienne (that was his name) asked if he had anything by Frank Zappa, no, nothing, “in small sips” he drank his “whisky”. .
Edmondsson called from the kitchen that she needed ten more minutes, that he should show the guests the apartment, he did that, he started with the bathroom (“I sat on the edge of the bathtub and gave them all the time they wanted to could admire everything«), then the bedroom (with the library), the toilet (in passing) and back to the drawing room.
Now Edmondsson was there too (she apologized for waiting) and served asparagus. A conversation ensued about »foreign policy« and degrees, Pierre-Etienne reported that he was doing exceptional things at the university, that he was thinking of doing a doctorate in history, that it would be a nice idea if he (the narrator without a name) were »on the examination board « sit, which led him (den and so on) to think that this would not be very »funny« for Pierre-Etienne, he won the subsequent game of a well-known board game, he poured whiskey in turn, »Pierre-Etienne posed wondered if there would be a third world war. That wasn’t my problem. I went to sleep.”
Croatia – Brazil: 2-1
Friday, 8pm, Netherlands v Argentina
Since taking charge of Argentina, Lionel Sebastián Scaloni has persistently rekindled the Albiceleste’s sacred footballing flames. He helped Lionel Messi, on whose international debut he was still a player, win the American Cup to his first triumph with the selection of the silver countries, because he did not build a team around Messi, but initially released the magic flea, an irresistible force puzzled together and only added little Rosarino when everything was in the bag and a new, young and hungry team had met and gotten better and better at it. And the miracle happened: For the first time in this millennium, the Argentines fell in love with their own choice of ball kicks, which they had previously met with ice-cold malice. Even Messi, whom until then only children liked, they suddenly adopted as one of their own.
The genesis of this new generation was the Copa América 2019. Messi also became the spokesman off the field, the starting XI began to sing the anthem. The World Cup qualifier was undefeated and thus ended confidently, last year’s Copa América even ended against the hosts in the Maracanã. Argentina’s first title in 28 years! The team, popularly known as “Scaloneta” after their football teacher, remained undefeated for 36 games before the start of the World Cup. The world record is set by the Italians, who played a whopping 37 games from 2018 to 2021. The Argentine record to date was 30 games between 1991 and 1993 under Alfio Basile. With that, Argentina won the Copa America twice in a row at that time – and if the CIA hadn’t removed Diego Armando Maradona from the World Cup tournament in the United States by means of an act of sabotage, the silver countries competed with world stars like Fernando Redondo, Gabriel Omar Batistuta, Claudio Caniggia , Diego Simeone and Ariel Ortega would certainly have won the pot in overdrive.
Netherlands 1-3 Argentina (a.e.t.)
Days after the Dutch were 3-1 against the USA and I had my first joint with our Dutch neighbors in the vegetable garden, the crystal-clear realization came: »The Oranje is a tournament team!« »Godverdomme!«, F. thinks about it slowly and in awe. ‘Why are so many in Holland called Frank? Frank Rijkaard, Frank de Boer, Frenkie de Jong” – I have to think for a moment. ‘It was only three. is drie veel?” – “That’s your name, too.” – “That’s right,” says F., “that was tight.” – “And did you also play football?” – “Vanzelfsprekend, we were always afraid that de Bal in de Gracht pops.”
I imagine hundreds of soccer balls drifting through the canals, past tidal power plants, pumping stations and desalination plants. And which are eventually eaten up by the North Sea with the high tide. Only one makes it to the new world with the current and dolphins, where a poor little boy, maybe his name is Lionel, finds him and … F. interrupts my waves of thoughts: »So, facts: De Nederland is playing as effectively now as de used to Duitsers.« – »Cleverly done, your identity theft. Is it now called cultural appropriation, shame on you!« – »But Germany, where is your loud protest? your bandage? Why is Ursula van der Leyden silent?” We burst out laughing and nobody remembers why.
‘Do you know how Louis van Gaal really is? Aloysius … Paulus … Maria!” F. laughs his throat out. I’m serious now. ‘One doesn’t make fun of names. But that’s right, he doesn’t look like a Louis, more like a Paul.” – “Or Saul. De Generaal scribbles the name of each lost ball Galgenmannetje on his pad. Whoever has de meeste has to sit next to him at de Maalzijt and laugh at his jokes.« – »Oh, shit, poor Virgil!«
The last marigolds are fading in the garden, their bright orange can still be seen in the semi-darkness. I draw one last time. Not really my thing.
“Messi, he only needed a name.”
“And I’m a fucking Honger.”
Netherlands – Argentina 3:1