A fresh, new Saturday is already upon me, so it behooves me to truncate the last two parts of my experiences from last Saturday, lest I get too far behind in my attempts to document the best of my daily life experiences here in Germany.
The sport of choice around here, as it is in most parts of the world, is soccer.. In the USA, outside the realm of women’s college sports, soccer is an also-ran in comparison to nearly every other recreational pastime. As a matter of fact, soccer doesn’t even make it into the top ten most popular sports in the US, coming in at number eleven, just behind running, but a notch up from skateboarding.
To be honest, I’ve never payed close attention to sports even when I was in the US, but I would get interested if an underdog team, against all odds, would make a run for the top spot in any sport. I usually try to follow the travails of any local sports team in the areas I live, (e.g. the Denver Broncos when I was in Colorado and the New Orleans Saints when I was in Mississippi) so I won’t appear totally ignorant (gay-lol) hanging around the water-cooler chatting with co-workers on Monday mornings. I’m trying to bring myself up-to-speed on the finer points of soccer for the same purpose of social lubrication that I did back home in America. It’s also a good thing to be aware of local rivalries around here, since emotions are often intense in regard to the success or failure of the local teams. When Holland and Germany play, it is a good idea to keep a low profile. My wife and I were shopping in Holland one day when a local retailer warned us we might want to “get the hell out of dodge“ before the game ended and the streets swelled with fans. We drive a Mercedes with German tags, so we would be easy targets for the rage of inebriated local fans should the German team best the Dutch this given day. We quickly gathered our purchases and headed for safe haven across the Dutch/German border to our home in Wessum.
My access to American sports on television is hindered by a six hour shift in time zones as well as limited local US sports programming. The Super Bowl is broadcast live here every year, but the game starts well after midnight!! In a nutshell, it’s rare that I see any live American sports on TV here. That said, I did happen to notice that Clemson was making a huge move in the college football league. Unrated at the beginning of the season, I began to read sports news on the Internet about their surprising winning streak against much higher rated teams. I think I first noticed a sports story about Clemson’s amazing season when they were 4-0. After that, I would eagerly check the online sports news every week after they played to see if they could keep their streak alive. When I read that Clemson was still undefeated at 7-0, having won their last game in an amazing come-from-behind victory, I shared the news with a friend of mine here in the area. To my surprise and delight, he told me that Clemson would be broadcast LIVE on his premium satellite television at six p.m. this particular Saturday evening! They would be playing an away game at North Carolina in a bid to remain undefeated and go 8-0.
After finishing with my tour of the German car lot and most-excellent zoo in Rheine, I headed over to my friend’s house to see Clemson and North Carolina battle it out. We ordered pizza at halftime (my host picked it up from a pizza place within a half block of his apartment). In the end, Clemson won by three touchdowns, going 8-0 for the season. I think Clemson is now rated among the top five college football teams in the US, and if they keep playing the way they have been, are real contenders for the national championship. Getting to see Clemson win for the eighth time in a row and continue their unbeaten season made for a very pleasant evening. Immediately after the game, I effusively thanked my friend for his hospitality and excused myself, walking short the two kilometers back to my temporary hotel apartment in the crisp night air.
As has become my custom while staying at my temporary abode in the Aristo Hotel, I dropped into the bar and ordered a nightcap upon arriving back home. I was greeted with open arms by the smattering of patrons still mingling about the bar. The single nightcap I had planned on consuming turned into several more than I had originally envisioned. Just before excusing myself and
wandering stumbling off to my room for bed, I was treated to a nice bit of performance art at the bar which I had the good sense to capture on video. I offer it here as a final peek into the closing moments of my most excellent Saturday adventures here in the Nordrheim-Westfalen region of Germany.