My apartment in Madrid was a few minutes from Retiro Park. On sunny days, which is just about every day in Madird, much of the city heads to Retiro to jog, lift weights or play football, tennis or basketball and afterwards, the men hit the little pond to take their shirts off and row each around in tiny boats. Admittedly, some of them do keep their shirts on, but who’s going to pay any attention to those losers?
Occasionally, my roommates and I wanted a break from just sitting around the kitchen table doing nothing in the little walk-in closet we called home, so we made our way to the park with the rest of the city, to sit around and do nothing with an audience. While there, we would notice people having a good time on the football pitch and eventually we decided that should be us.
Six months later, one of my roommates finally made some actual inquiries and managed to get us an hour or two on the pitch on a Sunday morning. It was a Wednesday and we were all looking forward to it. Come Sunday, what had seemed a stroke of genius earlier in the week now ranked among such other brilliant ideas as boy bands, nominating a poorly programmed Mormon robot bully for president or non-alcoholic beer.
It being Madrid and us being people with mouths, we naturally went out for a few drinks on Saturday night. Now, I know what you’re thinking, but we did in fact limit ourselves to a few drinks that night. Of course Saturday night ended an hour later and Sunday morning began. We did not show the same restraint on Sunday.
I assume we got home around six or seven in the morning. It was light out in any case. After breakfast, we jumped in our beds and basically rolled right back out the other side and got up to play some football. Yeah! I’ve never been a huge fan of physical exertion, but my distaste reached new levels that morning.
We dragged ourselves to the park followed by a contingent of homeless people trying to catch a whiff of the alcoholic fumes seeping from our pores. Somewhere along the way, while discussing possible teams, which basically amounted to agreeing on who would get stuck with the lazy, out of shape, half American (the first two described most of us; it was the last one that had them convinced I would not be a beneficial addition to their team), someone realized we were missing an important component of a football match: a football. Apparently, no one had thought of that little detail.
This meant we had no option but to invite others, people with the foresight to bring a ball when playing football, to join us. We ended up with a bunch of Spaniards and two Italians who would be matched up against our team of Germans, Brits (both English and Scottish) and me. Things were not looking good for us, especially considering most of us were standing around out of breath with our hands on our knees before the game ever began. Usually the pregame discussion involves deciding who will be forced to play goal, but on this day we had to decide who would GET to be the goalie.
The game itself actually turned out to be a lot of fun. Then we entered the third minute of play. At this point, I had two options: take over in goal or die. I chose the former. The rest of the game progressed like any game the Germans or the Brits play against the Spaniards and Italians: a bunch of us stand around like stationary obstacles while they enjoy some light passing drills up and down the pitch for 90 minutes. Occasionally they would take a shot on goal and they even managed to sneak a few past the seven of us who were guarding the net for most of the game.
Eventually, we got bored of watching the Spaniards play football from inside our net and we went home for some IV fluids. I think I saw the other team pause for a second as we were leaving, probably wondering why their spectators were abandoning them halfway through the match, but they quickly continued their game. I think they probably found it more difficult to get through our defense after we were gone.
Jeremy Branham says
When I visited Madrid, I loved Retiro Park. It’s one place in Madrid where I felt I was really hanging out with the locals. As an American, I LOVE LOVE LOVE European football. Put me in the room with anyone and I can talk very knowledgeably about today’s teams and players.
With that said, I hate Real Madrid. I also hate Man U. I love Barcelona and Chelsea though. However, I would love the opportunity to re-live my elite athlete days and play a little football in Retiro Park. Granted, I suck at soccer but am an athletic enough to compete and have fun. Like you, I would be exhausted but might do quite well in goal with my hand eye coordination and skills. I love late nights and my schedule fits well with the Spanish. But not even I can handle 6 or 7 am now – I am just getting too old.
Jeremy Branham recently contributed to world literature by posting..9 life lessons I learned as a travel blogger – Travel Confessions Part III
It sounds like you would have enjoyed the experience a lot more than I did.
I don’t like Real Madrid either–I always just support whatever German side makes it into the Champion’s League. Not that that’s worked out too well in recent times…
Daniel recently contributed to world literature by posting..Holy Cows in Goa
Chubby Chatterbox says
I just found you on Humor Blogs and I’m glad I did. I love your travel stories and you are a gifted writer with a sharp sense of humor. I consider myself a world traveler but not to the extent you are. I hope you’ll visit me at Chubby Chatterbox where I write about humor, travel and art. I think we might have a lot in common. If you visit and like what you see, I hope you’ll take a moment to press the Join button and I’ll return the compliment. I look forward to reading about more of your adventures.
Chubby Chatterbox says
On my blog (you might need to go there directly: email@example.com) there’s a place on the right column where it says “Join this site.” You should be able to press that button and sign up. Or you can go to Networked Blogs and sign up where it says “Follow This Blog.” You might need to create an avatar for your blog and an easy way for your admirers to follow you. I’m also new to this stuff and rely on my son for some of these technical issues, but WordPress should have an easy way for you to build up followers. Best of luck.
Chubby Chatterbox says
I just subscribed to your blog; hopefully I did it right. Looking forward to sharing more of your great adventures.
Natasha von Geldern says
Well the Spanish are the team of the decade, and they can handle late nights. I love watching them play but perhaps not from the box. @Jeremy I can’t believe you like Chelsea bleurgh! I’ve been to a Barca match – incredible.
Natasha von Geldern recently contributed to world literature by posting..All the colour of London’s Notting Hill Carnival