Summer classes don't begin until next week, but for the past ten days I've been getting a crash course in football hotness. My roommate is from a lemon sunshine and poplar treed region of southern France. She tells me her backyard looks like a Monet painting. Having never done the backpacking and Euro Rail thing, how can I argue this point? Oui. A petite brunette who knows more about the art of terroir and Sauvignon Blanc than American pop culture and $1 drafts of PBR at the local pub, she's engaged in a rigorous study abroad program, studying, and what else could it be really: Literature in the 21st Century. While most American femmes are glued to American Idol, Gossip Girls or the ongoing exploits of the Kardashian clan, my roommate is a soccer (excuse me) football junkie, and since Euro 2012 started on June 8th, she seems more like a jilted lover than a D.H. Lawrence style woman in love. What do I mean? She doesn't brush her Isabelle Hubbert hair or get out of her pajamas anymore. She woofs down frozen dinners and Ramon Noodles in front of the TV as she watches the matches, commentary and highlight reels. However, she is European and not American, and her lack of hygiene and less than lady-like appearance is an act of pure devotion and love. When a major football tournament is being televised in the U.S., to miss a single touch would be a crime. It's the beautiful game, she tells me, and when I look at the high-definition screen and see all those tall, toned, long-haired, sweaty and tattooed footballers, I know exactly what she means.
Politics Are Sexy Too
Of course, my sentimental education and football coming of age didn't begin by dissecting the finer physical attributes of Christiano Ronaldo, Olivier Giroud and Van Persie, but by philosophizing about the world economy, bailouts, the fate of the euro, Greece and what our future might look like after gradation. Our secondary texts (long and heated discussions over pints of Ben and Jerry's while watching the Czech Republic/Poland match ) focused on the Cold War, Berlin Wall, Reagan, racism, colonialism, imperialism and why professional soccer has never really taken hold in America like it has in the rest of the world. My roommate's favorite football themes were the colonizer versus the colonized and racism, the latter being a topic that has gotten plenty of negative press during Euro 2012. The tournament is being jointly hosted by the Ukraine and Poland, and it's supposed to be a positive showcase for these two eastern European countries, a sort of touristic promotion for everything they've accomplished since the crash of the Iron Curtain. Racial taunts, xenophobia and neo-Nazism were not part of the ad campaign, but even the most liberal countries in Europe are having issues with multiculturalism. So much for the United Colors of Benetton.
The Boys Are Back in Town
The final of the Euro 2012 is on July first. France is in the quarterfinal knockout stage, but my roommate isn't feeling too much much Liberty, Egality, Fraternity for her national team. If they make it to the finals, however, she swears she'll burn her comfy pajamas for luck and dress up in something sexy and chic. Sporting rituals and courting rituals: Is there really any difference? College campuses are quiet in the summer. Everyone has left to do internships, find summer jobs bar-tending and waiting tables, or, if they're lucky, relax with a trashy paperback on the beach or play golf and tennis at their parents' country club. My roommate and I will be watching all the blood, sweat and tears of Euro 2012. After watching three weeks of men Bending it like Beckham, taking brilliant crosses, free penalty kicks, yellow cards and rolling around on the pitch every time there is a little physical contact, we're going to be anticipating the return of our male classmates. The boys will be back in town this fall, but in the meantime we'll have to make do with the European footballers. Gooooaal!