While it might not be of interest to you, I, and perhaps others of the readership, would be interested in the general mood over there in relation to the Coupe Du Monde.
Thank you for your interest. I apologize for the tardiness of this response, because had I answered the question upon receipt -- before France's win last night over Brazil -- it might have made for a more nuanced answer. But as it is, I will just say that this: the general mood following France's win last night over Brazil is one of bat-shit crazy, jump-back-and-kiss-myself euphoria.
I mean, really.
As the clock ran down last night, I was standing out in the middle of the place in front of the Saint-Medard church not far from my house. I have neither a crew with whom to watch the games, nor a regular venue where I go to watch them, so usually it's me and my shadow at home. But last night I headed out A crowd of about a hundred people had gathered outside a café that was open to the street and blessed in possession of a gigantor TV. It was a mixed bag of locals and tourists but it is safe to say that there were no Brazil fans in the group. For spice we had two drunk guys wrapped up in a French flag, who kept trying and failing to rouse the group into a little "Allez les bleus" cheer.
And when the clock got down to zero, it was like a starting gun had gone off all over Paris. Mayhem. It was a very warm night and through a thousand open windows you could also hear people jumping up and down for joy and generally tearing their own hair out with happiness.
One of the commentators the other night on M6 referred to the Brazilians as "une machine qui tue" -- a killing machine. That they are. Personally, I will miss having them in the competition, but for my own wrong reasons. Their captain, Cafu, at 36, tends to be the oldest guy on the field. And I respect that. I also love his name. When he passes the ball to Kakà, the commmentators say "Cafu...Kakà" and it's infectious. I stopped counting how many times they said it during the Ghana game earlier this week. But it's like a ping-pong game in my head.
"Cafu...Kakà...." I just say it to myself walking around the house. It's a noun, an adjective, an expletive. As in, "Don't let me forget to sprinkle some Cafu-Kakà on the potatoes before I put them in the oven." And in fact, I said it this morning as I was opening the shutters, when I managed to get my thumb wedged in the hinge: "Cafu! Kakà! Cafu! Kakà!" I shouted the whole way down the hall to the kitchen to get some ice out of the freezer.
The French are not a killing machine. But they certainly are something. Their captain, Zinedine Zidane ("Zizou" as they call him") is retiring after the World Cup. He is not just the best-loved French footballer; he is one of the best-loved people in France, period. If you need proof, go to a crowded playground here in Paris. It will take only about two minutes before you hear one of the mothers call "Zidane! It's time to go home!"
(Actually, seeing the effect that the competition has on kids is worth the price of admission. Most of the time, there's a soccer ball being kicked around somewhere, but lately there's an added dimension to their play. You can read their minds. And as they dribble along they are almost day-dreaming loud enough for you to hear the crowds cheering them on in their heads.)
Not having grown up with soccer -- neither on tv, nor on the playground -- I am a little surprised at how much I like watching it. (Although in fairness I did practice a little bit in 1994. I was following the Argentinians at the time. They had the best mullets. And the best cokehead. Seeing Maradona in the stands these past few weeks, cheering on his team, warmed my heart.) That it is a fast game (in the playing and in the absence of re-playing) is excellent for those of us with compromised attention spans. And that there is plenty of eye-candy (Bonsoir, Monsieur Thierry Henry! ) doesn't hurt either.
What I found most charming was this morning --the morning-after the big party on the Champs-Elysées, the morning-after the horn-honking and too-much-drinking, and screaming like banshees -- the city was in the most chipper mood. I got to the Place Monge market early, just before nine, and everyone was keyed up. That it was sunny and sparkling -- one of those summer's days just made for comparing to "thee" -- surely helped.
Keyed up, indeed. The nice fellow serving me at the produce stand, after handing over all kinds of fruit and vegetables (and more of those spectacular tomatoes on the vine that are so very, very good), asked me if I wanted anything else. "Non, merci," I said. "Ça sera tout." ("That will be all.")
"Est-ce que ça c'est votre dernier mot?" he asked.
Which is French for "Is that your final answer?"
And which I thought, for a Sunday morning in Paris, was pretty funny.