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It's a fine line between living for the moment and being a sociopath.

Patricia B McConnell: For The Love Of A Dog.

Pema Chodron: The Places That Scare You

Daniel Wallace: Mr Sebastian & the Negro Magician

All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. --Pablo Neruda

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Allez Les Bleus!

Most of this blog's 9 and a half readers live either in the US or Australia. So, they can be forgiven for not realizing that the world ended last night, and that the dreams of a nation were born high on the buff shoulders of improbability.

Had you been in Paris, last night, however, you would not have been able to sleep. If the excitement hadn't kept you up, the noise -- the shouts, the car horns, the crackling electricity of fantasies fulfilled -- would have kept you not only out of bed, but at your window, shouting to the heavens. And that's only if you weren't wearing pants.

The pants-clad were not at home; they were all, to a person, out and about, howling with the delight of those who've just had their first sexual experience and aren't afraid to shout to the world of their new-found explosion of rapturous self: victory, ecstasy, identity, communion. But last night, it was an entire nation. And it wasn't sex. It was soccer.

For last night, France beat Brazil in quarter finals of the World Cup.

If you're Australian, this news may have escaped you, as you stopped watching last week, when the virgin World Cup campaign of the brave Socceroos (yes, my non-Aussie brethren and sistren, they really do call them that) came to its end.

And if you're American, well, you may still be wondering what this World Cup thing is, and whether it has anything to do with Nascar.

If you're from almost anywhere else in the world, however, you already know that the idea of France upsetting the tournament favorites, Brazil -- a nation whose only passion greater than Amazon deforestation (to say nothing of deflowering Amazons) is THE GAME -- was so fanciful as to make even Frenchmen modest.

That France might play with discipline... That France might play with heart and skill intertwined, beyond just its stars... That France might actually even score was in doubt.

But win?

Flame-Haired Angel and I didn't even watch the match. We just left all our French doors open to the hot Paris night and kept tabs on the match by the tenor, cadence and pitch of the shouts emerging from the streets below. The spectator sound of a foul is easily distinguished from the sound of a free kick. And the sound of a French goal, well, I can't even begin to describe.

As soon as the match ended -- with FHA and I keeping tabs on the closing minutes via the web, while we listened to the rising din come through the open windows -- we put our shoes on and made for the Champs Elysees.

And this is what we saw.

(First pic courtesy of Le Monde, looking up from the Louvre toward the Arc de Triomphe -- fitting -- and the second courtesy of FHA, looking down the Champs the other way.) Among shouts everywhere of "Allez les Bleus!" and under the watchful eye of many, many riot police, it was a throng comprised of all ages, all races, all walks of life. But definitely one nation.

The semi-finals and the finals are still mountains to climb, but Brazil seemed to everyone the Everest. And just for the moment, France is a naked, dancing, sherpa.


Comments on "Allez Les Bleus!"


Anonymous The Mauritian said ... (12:31 AM) : 

Actually Professor, some Australians were watching (having sat up the previous night thinking damn those Ukrainians were there for the taking, a semi final spot was "ours")and were cheering on Le Bleus if only because anyone called ZiZou by people who like him must have a stern constitution. To M. Le Pen, pah!


Anonymous Cathy said ... (12:22 PM) : 

Ah yes, the name socceroos is excruciatingly embarrassing isn't it? We are indeed a strange breed over here. Except for Victorians of course!


Blogger CooroyRoy said ... (10:23 AM) : 

Hey Houstie - I will do some checking but I suspect that this was not a "virgin" attempt at World Cup glory by the socceroos. I think they made it into the rounds back in the 70's?


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