06. 07. 2007. 08:04

Football and literature 4.

Endre Kukorelly: Macho football

"Without this, life itself just doesn’t work. Football is the arena of initiation, admission, and success, boys settle it playing, on their own, without any intervention from adults, cleanly and without pity, like wolf-cubs."

That meta-communicative necessity that one comes across among women when it comes to football. It’s enough just to start preparing for a final in the European Champions League; you’ve got to make a determined face. That stupid football again? As it were. And this raises the awkward and unpleasant question: is it something macho, football? And what is macho anyways?
What the hell do I know? Leave me alone. Macho is surely whatever makes women react like that, and they have every reason for it. I say, a bit peevishly. So football is one of those macho things. Women are shut out.

They were shut out from it, more precisely, the boys shut out the girls, shut them out of the great mystery of football. And whoever is shut out in her childhood is shut out, and it’s out of the question that if someone has thus survived childhood, the horrors and such (because one has to survive it if possible), that she will later come around to football. But you don’t even have to be a woman to be excluded, it’s enough simply not to be sufficiently this or sufficiently that, done and done.
 
This really is how it works, I know from experience, and I managed to squeak by, at least in this, indeed I managed quite well, I can’t speak a single word of complaint. I’ll proclaim forthwith that I am grateful to football. I have already proclaimed it. This, at least, went ok: so-called socialization into masculine society.
Do the girls whisper about him during half-time, can he put spin on the ball? Do the other boys have to acknowledge that spin?
 
Whoever says that it all depends on this, well, sorry, he’s right. Everything depends on this. Only if they accept you, acknowledge you, there’s no other chance to get in. It’s not easy out there, among people. A merciless struggle for bearable (physically, spiritually) circumstances without which you can’t undertake anything. Nothing else. Can’t even withdraw. Without this, life itself just doesn’t work. Football is the arena of initiation, admission, and success, boys settle it playing, on their own, without any intervention from adults, cleanly and without pity, like wolf-cubs.
Not so after all! I have to make a retraction, football is not macho. Then what is it? In short, it belongs to the initiates. Football is manly, macho is simply a misunderstanding of what it is to be manly, a self-destructive, unhealthy overdose, the feminine hystericalization of manliness. Macho is, in a word, stupid, quite simply stupid, in every sense, most especially spiritually. A stupid cock.
 
You can play macho doing anything, washing dishes, say, for instance, this is how a man washes dishes, you can imagine how. You can play macho in football too, but you don’t have to, and here is the misunderstanding, perhaps it is this that women misunderstand. The incomprehension and suspicion of the non-initiate. My dear ladies! Do not react thus!
Alas, it is thus that they react.
 
Then, my esteemed gentlemen! My boys! If perhaps we might manage to slip by here and there, sidestep this and that, we can’t get away with everything. And we don’t need to, it’s not even advisable. We’ll bear it. Let’s see: courage, a steely air, sit steadfast, proud, heads slumped on our shoulders in front of the TV.

Look fearlessly at the screen!
 
(Coda)

Where we play, at the field by the Saint Ladislaus Hospital, the sacred Saturday morning football games, there is a regular little league championship. The coach screams, parents discretely look the other way. A team of girls against a team of boys, ’cause they included the girls in the boys’ league. True, they are a year older, and a year at an age, 12 or 13, maybe 13 or 14, when it makes a big difference, we know, the girls are bigger, not just older. They’re much bigger a little bit. I went and stood behind the boys’ goal, on the off chance that one of the Valkyries would wind up there. The goalkeeper was kind of loafing about, I asked him: what’s the score? The kid, would have needed a ladder to reach the crossbar, says six-zero. Phlegmatically. The girls may be bigger, football’s not a matter of size. I’m thinking this when I see that the girls are coming with the ball, one of the bigger thirteen year-olds cuts right, somehow drives it in, another one of them heads it, it gets caught between the net and the far goalpost. They shriek, but with restraint. The goalie scoops it up, tosses it out. So, the girls know a trick or two as well, I try to tease him as he’s chucking the ball. Yup. He says phlegmatically. Now it’s seven-zero.
 
Translated by Thomas Cooper
 
Previously on HLO
Poems by Endre Kukorelly
An excerpt from and a review on Kukorelly's novel Ruin. The History of Commonism

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