Thursday, May 22, 2008

Timbers vs Islanders, part II: Introducing the concept of "verguenza ajena"

So another year, another season, another chance for the PR Islanders and the Portland Timbers to converge on PGE Park.

After my one and only attempt to sit in the Timbers supporters' section during a PR-Portland match, this year I decided to meet up with some friends and sit in the stadium's beer garden. Good choice all around, except they decided to put some shelters for the players right in frackin' front of the garden, which hurt visibility. Oh well. It was a nice spring day, we were sitting outdoors. And we had beer.

But it looks like I can't expect an Islanders-Timbers match to end without some sort of brouhaha. I feel this story is better told in pictures.

I arrived early so as to snag a good seat in the garden. Both teams were out on the pitch, warming up. Sharing the space together, in soccery harmony. (Islanders on the top, a Timbers player on the bottom.)

After a while, they are ready to start. Here they are during the national anthems. The guy on the right is the guy they hire for every Islanders game. He's got the "sing the Puerto Rican anthem" position in the friggin' bag, so don't even think about it.

Match is underway. Now that they are actually playing is when things start to turn.

I start to notice, along with the entire stadium and the Portland coach, that our beloved Islanders are not exactly, let us say, sporting fellows. They take too long to take corner shots. They play too aggressively and start to rack up fouls. They dive. Pretty soon they start to get really brazen and one of them gets a red card -- he's out of the game. I believe that one was for a deliberatly thrown elbow in the direction of a Portland player's face.

I'm starting to get really embarassed. Obviously not for me, it's not my fault these guys are acting like neanderthals. But they are representing Puerto Rico, man! What the hell? Here is where verguenza ajena comes in. It sort of translates to "embarassment for a third party", but it refers to feeling embarassed for someone else. It's not just that I'm embarassed over the way these guys were acting just because they're Puerto Rican (which is bad enough). I was feeling embarassed for them, personally, because they were putting on a testosterone-charged spectacle. Living the stereotype of the machito.

So now we have the Islanders coach (top) and the Portland coach (bottom) staring each other down.

Then the elbow-throwing happens, and it's fight time!

That kerfuffle settles down, and it's back to playing. Islanders are trailing, and it's near the end of the match. The boys still have some fight left in them, though. No, I don't mean fighting spirit. I actually mean fight. As the last minutes tick away a Timbers player is taking too long in getting the ball in play, in the estimation of the Islanders coach. So the coach runs onto the pitch and just as the player is about to kick the ball, he grabs it and runs away with it. Think about this for a second. He runs. He grabs it from under the player. He runs away. Coach was kicked off the game, and then.....fight!

If it weren't for those stupid shelters I could have documented all of this a whole lot better.

As my friends and I walk away after the match, I was feeling really disappointed. Why were they acting this way? There was absolutely no reason for such a display. What a bunch of huevones.

I met up with Dave, who had been sitting with the Timbers Army, as he usually does. The story of how he grabbed some college punk by the collar after yelling out "go back to your shanties!" is pretty well-known among his TA friends by now, and he said that the ones sitting next to him would say something about shanties and then look at him expectantly. I asked him if anyone really did shout out anything inappropriate, and he said no. All in all people were surprised at the players, but as far as I could tell that didn't carry over into any kind of stereotyping or nastiness.

I told Dave about how I was feeling. "If it makes you feel any better", he said, "Only one or two of the Islanders players is actually Puerto Rican. And the coach is Irish."

I'm still not sure if that makes me feel better, or worse.

(PS: I apologize about the picture layout. I know it's funky but I can't get it to format correctly.)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A funny story

One of my coworkers was calling a health insurance company in order to let them know that one of their subscribers was admitted urgently to the hospital. Her cubicle is on the other side of mine, so I can hear her every conversation. Mainly because she talks very...very...loudly.

When she was asked for the diagnosis, she says this:

"Abcess of the buttlock."

I immediately stopped what I was doing. I had to hear this.

"Abcess of the buttlock", she repeats. Silence, then once again she repeats this impossible-sounding diagnosis. "That's what it says right here on my computer."

It's clear to me that there must have been a typo, and it's really an abcess of the buttock. She has been working in the medical field for about 25 years; how this hasn't occured to her, I'm not sure. Finally, the person on the other end tells her the same thing, that it must be buttock. Why it has taken 3 repeats of "buttlock' for this to dawn on the other person is a mystery as well. "Oh, yes, that sounds much better. It's that."

What killed me the most is that before it dawned on these two that it must be buttock, the insurance rep asked my coworker for a diagnosis code, which is a universally-recognized number that the healthcare industry uses in order to specifically identify illnesses. "I can't find a code for it", my coworker says. No, there is no code for buttlock. I am pretty sure of that.

I think that if anyone is ever interested in producing a porno geared for senior citizens, it should be named Buttlock and star Andy Griffith.