This post is about navigating in a sea of concrete, alcohol appreciation before breakfast, on belonging to a tribe, and getting a prostate check by a mob of gun lovers.
I’d like to think that I have a head for topographical spatial orientation. In other words, I can usually find my way.
Like Daniel Boone, I won’t admit to ever having been lost.
And, like Daniel Boone, that is not to say that on occasion I haven’t been a bit bewildered for a while as to where in the hell I was.
To wit, when I got off the BART metro train in San Francisco last weekend, as I ascended from the subterranean depths into a deep canyon of concrete monoliths, which all but blocked out the sky, you might as well have put a blindfold on me and spun me around, as if playing pin the tail on the donkey.
After wandering around for a while looking for a recognizable street name, I finally resorted to pulling out the iPhone and started down the street—looking like almost every other person out there—walking while staring down at my hands, as I tried to avoid Mad Hatter taxi drivers and semi-suicidal bike messengers.
My desired destination was the iconic Maggie McGarry’s Irish pub, home to the über-fanatical fans of Arsenal English Premier League soccer—or football (fútbol) as known to the rest of the world. We fervent followers go by the nom de plume “Gooners,” as we shout support for the players, who are called “Gunners” (from the club logo).
The pub was televising the final match of the F.A. Cup, which is the world’s oldest football cup competition. This annual championship game is a very big deal in the world of English soccer. Arsenal was playing against the heavily under dogged Hull City team in Wembley Stadium, with almost 90,000 in attendance, plus trillions watching around the world
(O.K., maybe only billions).
While some of the early risers were quaffing frosty pints of Guinness, others opted for more of a traditional American morning Bloody Mary, many of us began the morning with chilled glasses of Magners Irish hard cider, which are anything but hard to swallow, as we hoisted them early and often.
The joy of joining with a group of people of all ages, races, and sexes (apparently, nowadays there are more than just two) and the common bond of enthusiastically cheering for your favorite team, or political cause, or some other interest often results in the old cliché where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
A physiologist would probably tell us that there is some basic human comfort and physiological power being part of a tribe.
There’s that, and the part where you get to dress up in certain costume elements (which might only be a team t-shirt), being able to act crazy, and…yes…it is acceptable to drink copious amounts of alcohol before most of civilized society has even woken up.
To say the early stage of the game was not going well for the masses of Gooners at Maggie McGarry’s is an understatement of an epic proportion, as Hull City went up two goals against the clear favorite Arsenal squad, IN JUST THE FIRST EIGHT MINUTES. The gang at the pub was in a serious case of soccer shock.
It appeared there was an increased consumption of Guinness as the Gunners lagged, but then again, winning makes us drink more, and losing makes us drink more.
In any regard, at the end of the 90-minutes of regulation time, the teams were level (which means “tied” in soccer talk).
Finally, well into the second 15-minute overtime period, Arsenal got another one into the net, and finished the game, thankfully without the need for PK’s, or penalty kicks, which probably would have run the pub plumb out of adult beverages.
Let the party begin.
The gleeful Gooners celebrated the Gunners achievement by pouring out onto Grant Street, thereby stopping traffic for as long as we dared (we already had one drive by of San Francisco’s finest in his patrol car), so we ventured back into the pub for just “one more drink.”
(Where have I heard that before?)
We planted ourselves along the far end of the bar to be out of the way should any of us succumb to the inebriating effects of all our celebrating. But, this location also happened to be in the path of foot traffic to the loo, which—not at all surprising—was visited at an increasing frequency as the game, and appurtenant fluid consumption, progressed.
While I was watching the telly above the bar, I felt a slight moistening on my person. My first concern was that this was the result of an aging prostate, which unfortunately seems to one of the joys of being an old fart. But, alas, I was not the root (pun not intended, yet revoltingly funny) of myself becoming slightly wetted. No, it was initiated by an inebriated young lady carrying a cocktail in the general direction of the bathroom.
I say “general direction,” as it was in a somewhat rambling route of which I apparently was standing in, even though I was flat against the wall, away from the bar.
The young lady immediately began to profusely apologize, all the while gently wiping my bare arm, which I assumed to remove any spillage that occurred. I say “young lady” to assure the wife-person that, although a younger, single man might have seen her as a beautiful brunette, with a seductive smile and alluring attractiveness, I possibly might not have noticed.
When she got to the point where she introduced herself as Jackie and told me that she lived just down the street…while continuing to gently remove any perceived remnants of her spilled intoxicant on my forearm…I decided it was best that I introduce her to my young companion, who happens to be a single male, who like her, lives in San Francisco, and was born in something closer to her age than the three decades that separated her and I.
It was the proverbial win-win-win, as the young lady got herself extracted from a man who could be her (grand?) father, my young apprentice got a possible hook up, and the wife-person did not have to remove the root of my sometimes (VERY infrequently) source of moisture because I continued conversation with the beautiful brunette, with a seductive smile and alluring attractiveness…I mean, young lady at the bar.
Being a participant in a packed pub of like-minded fútbol fans for such a historically significant soccer event was worth almost being crushed by the crowd, although once I wasn’t sure if the guy behind me was holding a bottle of Magners at waist level, or if he was just…well, you know the line.