Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fever Pitch: My Tribute to the Portland Timbers

My friends, the season is finally upon us. In 34 hours, my life can begin again. In October, I swear to god it felt like life stalled out... like entering into an unwilling and unending hibernation. I was lost with no one to turn to. I ended up alone in the dead of winter desperate and in the cold and uncaring embrace of a far off Manchester United game as the rain beat sadly against my windows. Unfortunately, these are what winters now consist of here for us: too many months spent waiting, talking about the upcoming season, and berating Sounders fans as we will it with all our hearts to be April.

In the interim, us few but proud soccer fans in the US converse about the amazing 23-year old Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo the crybaby, the maestro Ryan Giggs, and of course Didier Drogba, the total dickhead. (All of these, are true, by the way.) EPL, La Liga, Champions League... all may help to quell the anxiety of a life without live soccer, but when all is said and done, it is a Timbers game that provides the ultimate release of pride, glory, and happiness. I have the tendency to write about relationships in my life, but I only have one true love, and they are the Portland Timbers.

For most Timbers fans, life is football. It may sound a bit cliched, but I mean it with every fiber of my being. During the all too brief summer season, we lead passionate love affairs with the team and the wonderful people who share our pride. (Not literally of course...) We are the 12th man. Every single one of us, bound together in an everlasting love for the Timbers. In the words of the fantastic movie Goal, "The name on the front of the shirt is more important than the one on the back." And every single one of us wears the name "Timbers" with pride.

90 minutes is not enough. I crave week long games. I crave that part right at the end of the National Anthem when the stadium erupts in a "home of the Timbers!!!" roar, the stands a flurry of scarves and streamers. I want to yell at the referee as Stephen Keel picks another fight. I long to live forever in the moment when Ryan Pore scored in the final minutes while the Army held up sunflowers. When the stadium empties but for the Army that remains behind to chant for the players as they walk around and applaud us back. One is overwhelmed with a manic-happiness; a blind, heart pounding sense of magic not found anywhere else. The heart swells to a point that you think it might just burst right out of your chest. A dizzying sense of passion for a team... It just can't be found anywhere else.

I remember my first game, five years ago. I received home opener tickets for my birthday from my now exboyfriend- good tickets, at half line. We made it all of one half before moving to stand with the Army. And I've never left. Boyfriends may come and go, but the Timbers are for life. As we move on to the MLS, an excitement that I cannot describe overwhelms me when I think that soon our excitement and fever will be shared with the world. I am Rose City Til I Die. We are the Timbers Army- there is no greater pride.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Was That You, Me, or the Aftershock? A Christchurch Cultural Experience

Boys like me for three reasons: I do not possess the ability to control how much alcohol I drink, I am generally not out of anyone's league, and I'm easy. I have no problems with any of those three things, but do often find judgment and ill tidings radiate off of people when they find this out about me.  In saying that, maaaaybe stop reading this one if you do not want to hear about any of those three Grade A attributes of mine, because I am about to tell the story of the hottest man I have ever slept with. God, I love italics.

Act One: Setting: Christchurch; Activity: Trying to Fight Space Creatures

As I walked around the ghost town that now represents the earthquake-destroyed city of Christchurch, my heart pounded gently beneath my ugly travel sweater as I imagined myself in some sort of disaster movie- like 28 Days Later, I Am Legend... The city of CHCH is now the epitome of many of my apocalyptic nightmares, the kind where I wake up and think that I'm the last human left on earth and zombies are outside my window ready to eat my organs as I kick and scream in terror. I wandered around corners sharply, and goddammit if I didn't go "fuck-off-guns" first.  (In many a night terror, when scenes turn especially grizzly, I like to pretend that I have these guns that usually shoot everything between the eyes and generally kill on their own. They are... my "fuck-off-guns".) Even though I was wielding my gay little "I'm terrified and puhlease mister!, I swears these is only for show!" guns, (they are my hands in the shape of guns. It's fucking pathetic,) it did not stop my pulse from quickening at the very thought of every alley I turned down I might be whisked away by some hunky army man in his tank and driven across some army border, away from the murderous zombies lurking behind me. (The thought only turned into a steamy day dream about 7 times... that I can recall. While I know that New Zealand cops can't have guns, I will tell you that in the dream they have handcuffs.) I retreated, as I often do in times of faux distress, to the only bar I saw open during the FOUR hours of walking around near the downtown area. I walked into the empty bar, fully aware of being gawked at for my lack of company, ordered a 20 ounce cider, downed it in 90 seconds, and was thankful that no human there had blood or guts on them in any way. (Die zombies, die! Pew pew pew!)

With my second cider in hand, I left the slack jawed stares to the comfort of an empty patio. (Stop staring at me, assholes. I'm American. WE DRINK ALONE. A LOT. Also we understand how soccer is played.)  There, I sat down to write the predecessor to this story. It was entitled "Zombies, Dinosaurs, and/or Aliens", which was a pretty good description of what Christchurch was like, albeit pretty fucking boring. ("I am the only pedestrian around, and it seems the cars that do drive near the downtown area speed off in the opposite direction. Through one bridge, which has a <here I just draw a picture of what looks like an arch over a bridge because I am now not sober enough to think of the word "arch"> over it, and if I looked through it the buildings were toppled against each other for support") I know, very descriptive, but lacks the desired entertainment value.

Anyway, from my left walks hands down the most beautiful man I have ever seen in my life. I nearly fall off the bench, looking as fucktarded and slack-jawed as the Kiwis inside were at me. "Well count my lucky stars, ain't he a bartender here! Have all my wishes just come true?! A real live brown boy for me to seduce?" What a difference a little Dutch courage does for a girl. Not only does it make me think ridiculous statements like those, dripping with a disgusting southern bell accent, but it also lets me hit on guys who are clearly out of my league. The Monteith's cider, which is a delectable "don't have more than one" blend of crushed apples and champagne, has now been working wonders on Miss Drinks-a-Ton, and I sauntered in with my big, lesbian, travel backpack and sit down at the bar.

Act Two: Setting: Pegasus Arms Bar; Activity: Seducing a God

Inside, I am acutely aware of the wicked sunburn that now covers most of my chest, shoulders, and face. But not my entire face. Just the area around the hipster sunglasses. As I slip gracefully onto the bar stool (not gracefully at all) I stare deep into the eyes of this gorgeous boy... some sort of ethnicity I have yet to encounter and am insanely attracted to. He mostly stares at my Red Lobster skin tone and my hair that just happens to look like Jack Nicholson's when I forget to bathe in the morning. But luckily for me, I have in my flirting-arsenal of talking to boys the ability to pretend like I do not understand some sports while managing to not seem like an asshole. My super power is taking fake, genuine interest when someone enthusiastically explains their favorite sports team to me. If they are hot enough. And it's not the Sounders. Luckily for me, it happens to be rugby today- a sport that puts American football to shame..

As we flirt, I continue to drink, and thus my level of girlish charm shoots through the roof. (I swear at will and loudly insult people). I can't believe what happens next- his manager, who has been drinking at the bar unbeknownst to me, decides to let this brown god close early. Mostly because this bitch is now the only person in the bar, and she's also not exactly allowing the bartender do his job. Then.... I'm not kidding... he offers to drive me home. (!!!) At this point I am just plotting... It's about 5pm, and I've got nothing to do that night except try and continue to drink at home without getting sloppy around my gracious hosts. The kind of, "hide the fact I want to be intoxicated while not letting you know I'm intoxicated" kind of drunk, which is just more pathetic and embarrassing than just about anything. While in the car, and I literally have no idea how the phrase managed to come out so smoothly, I say, "So, I know you aren't supposed to tip in this country, but how about I buy you a drink?" He answers with a cool, "Yeah, we could do that," or something along those lines, and I realize if I play my cards right, I could get this guy drunk enough to let me take his clothes off.

We drink and drink, and I am worried because the conversation is not flirty and light and humorous, it's actually really deep and intellectual. And fascinating. Huh. Holy shit. This guy is more than just a pretty face, he's awesome. And no real signs of flirting, not the usual touches on hands or smiling coyly, none of that bullshit. Who could blame him, with the level of gringo heat radiating off my face and shoulders, and the blatantly obvious "I haven't showered in a day or three".

Act Three: Setting: Hot-Man's Car; Activity: Disappointment 

Ah well, at least I made a rad friend from Christchurch. He explains to me that after the initial earthquake, he and all his university friends made drinking games out of the aftershocks. They would be watching the news and the news crew would feel one. After that they had to chug their drinks until they felt one, since it would probably be seconds away. Is this the most epic natural disaster drinking game of all time? Yes- and probably the only natural disaster drinking game, too. After much very drunkenly intense conversation, the night ends quicker than I'd like, as the few bars in Christchurch now close pretty early. The smokin' boy gives me his phone number, and soon we are in his car to drop me off.

At this point I've lost all hope, and as we pull up to the driveway I go in for the innocent and sorta drunk, "nice to meet you" hug. And here, my friends, is where the night turns fucking AWESOME. Said beautiful brown boy proceeds to maul me in his car, and then comes up for air saying, "Well, that was overdue." ... ... ... alright Kiwis, jokes on me- is this how you flirt in your country? I don't normally have 45 minute conversations about how George Bush fucked up America and then felt like boning afterward. Mostly I just feel sick. And angry. "Are you up for something a bit... naughty?"

I no longer feel sick or angry. Haaaaa. This girl?!?! The magic words were 'are you up for'. "Yes I am," I reply, hiding my personal celebrations (involves a lot of high fives). We proceeded to a house that had received a beating from the earthquake. Deemed unsafe at the moment for living, it still did not have electricity or running water... and was also not owned by my gentleman caller. Let's break this down a little bit. Sure it sounds rustic... but this meant that I had to unceremoniously pee in the backyard, and when that drunk to sober "fucking dying of thirst" feeling hit, whooo boy was that just about the worst thing ever. This also meant that we had to leave at the ass-crack of dawn because the owners of the house would be back around 7 am. And with no electricity, I could not see the beautiful face of my first ethnic conquest and made the whole thing pretty null and void. Here's why.

Act Four: Setting: Earthquake City, Population: Us; Activity: Breaking and Entering

While getting down to business, I notice pretty much from stroke one that it is... well, mediocre. So, I have this theory... Why is it that hot guys are generally just so-so in the sack? Let me tell you- it's because they've never had to work for it in their lives. They get so much vagina thrown at their faces that no woman has ever bothered to tell them that they haven't totally figured out how a vagina works. They can get it whenever they want, so why bother being good at it? On the flip side, just so-so looking guys are generally way better in the sack. Now that they've FINALLY convinced a girl to get naked around them, they are going to make sure that this girl comes back for more because who knows how long it will be before they can lure another specimen into their bat cave. Thus, he makes sure she is one happy camper.

Unfortunately for me, my beautiful man had the hot-guy syndrome, but apparently not the "quiet guy" syndrome.  He wanted to talk all about how I was his first American, rah rah rah. Here is where I did two extremely offending and embarrassing things. I was pretty bored at this point, but when someone talks at me during sex I usually feel like it would be pretty rude not to respond. I manage to say, "You're the hottest guy I've met in Ire..." before I realize I have now forgotten where I am and am about to say Ireland instead of New Zealand. Now, I have the self control of a SAINT (when it comes to stifling certain thoughts that cross this twisted mind). I once hooked up with a white guy named Chris Brown and didn't giggle ONCE. So, having already broken my normal smoothness, I do the next logical thing I can think of, which is to burst out laughing. Then- you won't believe this- we experience an aftershock that literally shakes the windows and bed. It was the best part of my night. And, thanks be to sexjesus, at the exact right time to distract him from the fact that I am laughing at pretty much doing the equivalent of screaming out the wrong first name.

We stop for a while and I manage to make up some more ridiculous phrases to keep his spirits up, and then  he tells me about his rugby accident that left his junk slightly... desensitized. "It's ok though, because we have all night!" he tells me enthusiastically. Are you fucking kidding me? Now I have to do this all night? UGH dammit you boys and thinking that all girls want to do is go "all night". If you aren't doing it correctly, I don't want it to last 5 minutes. So I pull my best act out and get it a little under the "all night" time frame. To which he turns to me and says, "So... best Kiwi you ever had?" ............ This is a little bit like a girl asking a guy if something makes her look fat. It's just setting you up to lie. And what kind of answer was he expecting, anyway? Did he want some ridiculous, elaborate story about how he rocked my world? Once you go Kiwi you never go American? "Well... ... ... first Kiwi," I wanted to say. Instead some sort of "Yeah...." came out, which wouldn't have convinced even the vainest of guys. I was then glad to not be seen in the light so I could hide the blushing.

Act Five: Setting: Homeward Bound; Activity: GTFO

The next morning, a pair of headlights in the driveway startled us awake, and all I could think about was getting arrested by cops that aren't even allowed to carry guns. I would surely be hit with a baton, and crying like a fucking girl was not on my agenda for that day. So we booked it out of there, made our escape and back to his car, where both of us whine like children the whole drive back about how early it is. A great way to end our fantastic date. Upon entering the house where my married friends Grace and Spencer are waiting for me, two comments greet me at the door.
"So, first case of Jungle Fever?"
"We hear you got your flightless bird wings last night."
Thank you, Christchurch.