Among my favorite small joys in the world is a thing that happens every four years in New York. Around this time, in the sweaty-tongued heat-struck center of the summer, walking around the streets in the afternoon (or, this year, at ten in the morning), you can see crowds overflowing out of bars, gathered to watch a soccer game. America isn’t good at soccer, and we aren’t in the tournament this year, but it doesn’t matter. It happens each time, and it happens no matter who the team is. The bar will have a few serious fans to be sure, up near the front, white-knuckling drinks in bright team jerseys, but mostly it’s people who have decided for an afternoon to care about something simply because it’s there to care about, because a packed-vein shot of love for something that can’t love you back seems seems like a fun afternoon’s activity. Maybe it’s just that New York has a high percentage of people who are very loud about their pointless and esoteric interests, but more I think it’s that people here, in general, want to be overwhelmed by something. We want, if only for a few hours, to be consumed, absolved of responsibility by something larger than themselves. Bodies and yelling spill out through doors and windows, and entering the bar instantly envelops you in a wave of emotion, high stakes with zero buy-in. For a few hours, caring deeply about something both tangible and sweetly, wholly insignificant is free to anyone who wants to join the game.
Subscribe below to read this post