It’s Sunday afternoon. The Bistro’s dead. There’s not a single customer in the restaurant. The staff’s spread out in the back, reading magazines, fiddling with cell phones, or taking a nap.
“Where’s Armando?” I say, not looking up from my newspaper. “I haven’t seen him since I got here.”
“He’s in the office,” Celine, the hostess replies. “He’s watching the World Cup.”
That’s why no one’s here. Wimbledon and the World Cup are both today. I’ll be lucky to make cab fare tonight. It’s as dead as Super Bowl Sunday.
“It’s gonna be slow,” I say, turning the page.
“Who are you rooting for?” Celine asks.
“For the World Cup?”
“Just to piss Armando and Fluvio off.”
“I hope Italy wins.” Celine says, “If not Armando’s gonna be miserable all night.”
“He’ll cry like a little girl,” I say.
“How will we know who won?” Celine asks.
“If you hear Armando shouting that means Italy won. If you hear him breaking shit that means they lost.”
“Oh boy,” Celine whispers.
“Our sous chef’s full of crap,” I groan. “He only gets interested in soccer during the World Cup.”
“Well,” Celine huffs, “You get all baseball crazy during the World Series.”
“It’s the same thing.”
“No it’s not.”
“Now you’re the one who’s full of shit.”
“Maybe,” I reply, returning to my paper.
Time passes. Some customers walk in the door. I know better than to disturb Armando with minor details like cooking food. The other kitchen guys will handle it.
Suddenly I hear Armando screaming.
“Italy must’ve won,” I think out loud.
I go to the front window and look at the pizza parlor across the street. The Italian guys who work there are outside drinking champagne from the bottle and kissing every girl that walks by. Its official – Italy won the World Cup.
I notice Alain’s staff is staying inside. That’s the French place down the road. Too bad. In many cities French and Italian restaurants are on opposite sides of the street. I can just imagine waiters from opposing cuisines hurling tomatoes and baguettes at each other.
But today the tomatoes are in ascendancy.
Armando runs up the stairs yelling, “We are the best! Italia! We are the best!”
The Spanish guys in the kitchen are pissed. Ever since Mexico got bounced out they’ve been rooting for the French.
“Yeah!” I crow, ever the opportunistic sports turncoat, “Fuck France!”
The kitchen guys flip me the bird en masse.
I go across the street to the pizza place. It’s a madhouse. I offer Giuseppe, the owner, my congratulations. The parlor’s TV set shows Italy convulsing in tumultuous joy. It’s like the country was liberated or something. Maybe it was.
I’m sure the mood in France is bit more somber. Oh well. C’est la vie.
Take me with a grain of salt. I’m an American. Soccer’s not my game.
Yeah! I was rooting for you guys all along!