I’ll talk about Pizza Obama Who Plays Soccer in a second. But first I need to get something off my chest. I need to come clean. So I’m gonna. Here comes…
I was completely clueless this whole time about what was going on with the World Cup. Who was playing. Who I was supposed to like. Who were the marquee players, the ones to root for. I can say, with certainty, that, during the very strange futbol frenzy that had gripped some of my friends and neighbors, I aggressively maintained my soccer ignorance. I wasn’t about to pretend to care about something just because many of the people in my life were suffering from some sort of creepy mass delusion.
Because no one cared last year or the year before, is my thing. Yes, soccer fans cared—they always did—but not non-soccers fans. And certainly not non-sports fans. Yet, over the past few months it had become thing to interview your friends and co-workers about. You’d hear stuff like “We’re still in it” or “”I can’t believe the Argentina beat the Klingons” coming from the mouths of people who barely talk at all, let alone to you, let alone about sports! By the way, I mentioned Klingons instead of a real team because I already said the United States and Argentina and I can’t really come up with a third team (maybe Germany, but no, I wouldn’t bet my life on it if you put a gun to my head). So yes, full disclosure here.
Is it because this is the first year the US had a team to represent us? Is that the reason? I mean, that would be a pretty good reason, I guess, but I don’t want to look it up because it’ll spoil this article. Did we not have a team in previous years? I do know that, thanks in large part to David Beccam playing for LA for a few years, soccer has slowly been gaining in popularity here in America. Every once in a while there’d be a commercial advertising bizzarly, corporately named teams, like the Gatorade Netflixers and the Starbucks Samsungs. I noticed how all the players’ uniforms were rippling with little squares with little advertisements on them. It was all very strange, very sell-outy, but I was willing to cut soccer some slack. You gotta do what you gotta do.
But I wasn’t expecting the World Cup—whatever it is—to go over this year like the damn 1983 Cabbage Patch Kid craze, with every Tom, Dick and Harry and Daphne suddenly tuning in and Facebook-posting affected emotional outbursts having to do with the Klingons winning or not winning. I had friends who weren’t even Klingons pretending like they cared about the Klingons.
And really, Facebook surely had a lot to do with the World Cup going viral. I feel that, after a while, feigning an opinion about soccer became just another added step in one’s daily normalcy maintenance plan. If you let your Facebook feed remain silent after an important night of World Cupping, you suddenly reveal to your friends, quite publicly, like you have a mind of your own—and trust me, you don’t want to do that.
So it became neccesary to parrot your peers’ forced interest in the game, or else a 1970’s Donald Sutherland would show up at your door and point at you and do a long, deafening bodysnatcher screech (see video below). And honestly, I get it. The only reason I didn’t participate in the normality frenzy is because I’ve already fallen off that wagon. I’ve already gotten bodysnatcher screeched. But if I was still on that wagon—the normalcy wagon—maybe I would have pretended to care about the World Cup too.
As it is, I refuse even to post a picture of my children on Facebook, on general principle. Not that I have children, but if I did, I’d probably not post pictures of them on Facebook because I’d be too afraid I was doing it just because that’s what you’re supposed to do, and not because you genuinely want to share their drooling, cross-eyed countenance with your particular Facebook mob. Which deep down I might. But who’s to say for sure? Why risk it?
Anyway, I’m gonna wrap up this fine Monday rant by explaining the photograph I’ve attached to the post. It was a window painting I saw on a very good (possibly the best) pizza shop in Jersey. The first thing I thought when I walked by the painting was, “Why does this pizza shop have a big painting of Obama on the window?” And then I lowered my eyes a bit and thought, “Wait, what? Why does this pizza shop have a painting of Obama with the awkward body of pizza on its window?” And then I looked down the rest of the way and said, “Huh? Why does this pizza shop have a painting of Obama with a body of pizza who’s also playing soccer?”
I immediately christened him Pizza Obama Who Plays Soccer. And really, to me, he represents the patent absurdity of this year’s World Cup craze. I mean, if the President of the United States, with all his many problems and stressors—including the fact that his body is a floppy, melty piece of pizza—could still find the time to pretend he cared about the World Cup, than really, this contagion has reached biblical proportions.
And I’m aware that whoever drew Pizza Obama’s face was likely trying to, instead, draw the head of some particular soccer star I knew heard of. But hell if it didn’t come out looking like our President doing one of his trademark mega hammy smirks. I can’t fault the artist for this—it’s got to be hard to make a window painting look exactly like who you want it to look like. But what I don’t get is the weird pizza-slice body. I get that a “pizza” theme was necessary, but why didn’t the artist just put a small slice of pizza flapping around in Obama’s free hand? An action shot, Ninja Turtles style?
This, my friends, may be the greatest mystery of all.
Readers, did you pretend to care about the World Cup? Were you soccer fans in the first place? Or simply indiscriminate “sports” fans? Let me know!