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9:42 a.m. - 2010-07-14
Thoughts from the game.

More stories from the weekend.

Sunday: around 4:00pm

Not for a lack of trying yet despite my hustle the scant 3 minutes between the arrival of my Amtrak train and the departure of the NJ Transit one just wasn't enough time. So I missed the earlier train back home by this )( much and was left with a couple hours to kill before I could catch the next Cannonball back to Hooterville*.

(* And really, with a ridiculous rack like mine isn't 'Hooterville' the most apropos name ever?)

I considered leaving Penn Station and bopping around midtown for a while but the weather was still too sticky and hot to make random bopping appealing.

(Yes, I can hear the anguished moans from some of you. "She was in the heart of New York City and just hung around a fricken train station? GAH!!!" Hey, I dig it, but remember NYC is sort of in my neighborhood and accessible always. It's not the shining Cibola it might be to those outlanders for whom a trip to Manhattan is a once in a lifetime deal. I guarantee that if I had a layover in San Francisco or Berlin I'd make the most of it too.)

Hungry, and with just enough folding green and time to do it I found a sit-down café (Penn Station's a big place) and treated myself to a real meal instead of just gobbling down the slice of pizza I'd originally planned on. The young woman who greeted me asked if I wanted to watch the game and when I said yes she seated me at a small table directly across from a TV mounted on the wall in a corner. Everyone in that section had their eyes on the screen, including a small cluster of kitchen guys and busboys who were gathered around the end of the banquette. One of the busboys, a cutie-pie with a big grin, a short curly ponytail and an unplaceable accent asked who I was for. When I answered, "The Netherlands!" He and the rest of the watchers cheered and the busboy said that was fine, if I'd been for Spain I'd have had to sit over there, pointing over his shoulder to another seating section whose own busboys called out cheerful insults and yelled, "Go Spain!"

The US might be newcomers to World Cup fever but you'd never know it from the tense excitement and enthusiastic rooting as everyone in the café watched the last minutes tick down and the game went into overtime. Though truly it was an international thing right there in the café. Along with the oddly accented busboy and his multi-lingual compadres, my server was Russian- a lovely young woman with a dyed black pixie and the sloe eyes of the born femme fatale. The couple directly across from me had the frightfully jolly British thing going on- the man a dead ringer for Patrick Macnee (though no bowler) and his wife must have been president of the Dame Edna fan club. The family sharing the banquette with me looked like they escaped from a Ralph Lauren ad (all toothy and expensive khaki) and the trio seated across from them had the burnished copper skin and lilting accents of native Caribbean islanders. Fantastic. Add in me, the lumpy middle-aged PTA mom with Billy Idol hair and we made quite the crew.

So there we all were happily jammed into a pub in the subterranean train station beneath Madison Square Garden watching talented young athletes from Europe play a soccer game in South Africa and I wondered why, if we could do that, it was so goddamn impossible for humans to get along the rest of the time.

I have no idea.

How about you guys? Any theories about why instead of all being humans together the most we usually manage is to be angry monkeys with nukes?

Wondering, ~LA

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