2002, South Korea and Japan
Yanik and I find ourselves drunk at a pub in the East Village at 7:45am. Game ends, we wobble to the deli on Broadway between 9th and 10th and get egg-ham-and-cheese on rolls and Cokes, diet for me, regular for Yans. We then go into my office at 770, and drunkenly and loudly eat hangover food in my cube smelling of pre-Bloomberg-era-ban cigarettes and beer. We think this is a good idea. I don't remember the rest of the workday. Korea makes it to the semi-finals, places fourth.
Gabe and I have just started dating. We wander South Williamsburg for a place with both TV and brunch. Impossible. We stop in at Marlow & Sons, which has paninis, but no eggs, and a long-lost friend from New Trier who I haven't seen in almost 10 years is working behind the bar, which is really nice but sufficient enough to freak me out. We end up at Pies & Thighs, where the staff is stoned and forgets to place our order, which leads to us missing the first half of whatever game we wanted to watch. They make it up for us by giving us free pie, and we catch the second half in my dim apartment in 285 Division, gobbling an apple crumble that has the distinctly addictive quality of heroin. Korea doesn't make it out of their group, which includes Switzerland, France and Togo.
2010, South Africa
Gabe and I are married (and Yanik about to be!). We miss the opening ceremony and Korea's first dominating win over Greece while driving up the Kings Highway in Jordan. We watch the US draw with England caffeinated and sheesha-ed rather than drunk. We find ourselves in innumerable strange, men-filled cafes of Arabs wearing Villa, Messi and Rooney jerseys. We watch the DPRK stand up to Brazil in our crowded hostel lobby with a bunch of other backpackers, and I am confused with a million feelings of pride and bitterness and hope. We watch Korea score its one goal against Argentina in an open-air cafe on Rainbow Street, sipping orange juice and mint lemonade. I jump up and down screaming, give Gabe a loud, obnoxious high five. After an amused silence at the crazy Asian lady, a roomful of Jordanian men clearly rooting for the South Americans laughs warmly and gives a huge round of applause. The waiter makes a motion as if I should take a bow. I almost do. The Koreas play on.