How Capri Sun Ruined Everything

Hi. This column originally appeared in TheTridge.com in January 2015. The website does not exist anymore, so now it’s here. I hope you enjoy it.

I have never gotten along with competitive sports. In fact, I believe the evolution of Andy has totally weeded out competition and replaced it with apathy. My physical capability? Let’s just say that five foot seven is not a height that screams, “give me the ball.” My evolution has given up in that regard. I am a human who prefers passive leisure activity like yoga, smoking and complaining/ So why the fuck am I writing about sports? It is likely to reason that I have no right to comment on the nature of competitive sports, nor could I state with any intellectual relevance the amazing feats of Lebron Whoever or the WWE. That is a waste of your time and mine. What I can tell you is that I have certain things to say about why the drive to play sports competitively is extremely farfetched to me. Why I wish everyone would succumb to my genic level. Why all this fuss about sports is bullshit.

I’m not boasting that tired, recycled phrase vocalized by volunteer soccer dads: “it’s not about winning.” A phrase like that was invented by vertically challenged anti-athletes such as myself and recycled for generations by their offspring in hopes that they might find a respite from the disappointment of losing. It’s a phrase which, if you’ve spent more than 30 seconds in America, you know is not true. I’m not talking about that at all. What I’m talking about is soccer.

When I was roughly six-years-old I, like many white suburban children, was subject to the social destruction program parents like to call “soccer.” It’s a tradition as ancient and misleading as Christmas, but, unlike Christmas, every child loathes it.

Soccer, as some know, was invented by drunk Roman aristocrats nakedly kicking a hard pumpkin between soaks at the bath houses. It gained popularity when they introduced it to the common people, hoping that the game’s physical demands would make the poor and enslaved so tired they would never try to uprise. Unfortunately, soccer, or as the unimaginative world dubs it, “football,” was a huge hit, and now we have to suffer our youths playing it on Saturday mornings. If you’re a good American, you are probably in need of an explanation of what this game is. Soccer consists of about 40 men or women trying to kick a sphere made from air and dried animal skin. Aside from smacking their face against the ball, players must restrain from using any part of the body above the waist. At each end of the field, one must drape a fish net between two rather large sticks which is guarded by glove-wearing men/women. The goals must be place somewhere between 500 and 1000 yards from each other, depending on the away team’s country of origin. Some have argued that the players are divided into two or more teams. After signing various legal documents, wavers, and insurance agreements, players spend the next 6 hours trying to place the ball in the fish net’s hold.

As you can see, it’s quite straight-forward. Which is why we think we can make children play it. The sport, however simple, requires a certain level of organization and a hyper precision of motor skills that small children do not have; the field erupts in chaos. Even if a child can discern the rules of the sport the smarter ones will refuse to comply. This is why I feel pride every time I watch a video of my four-year-old niece during a soccer game, trying to play paddy-cake with another girl on the opposing team. It’s the same reason I pretended to be a Tyrannosaurus Rex on the field, stomping around alone at the other end of the field. Other children take a different path. To them, the ball is an object of desire that they must violently whack with their feet, and if their little legs just keep on kicking, eventually they’ll score a goal—and the desire to win sets in. And it’s not a desire to win soccer games—it’s a desire to win everything. Winning festers, grows, encompasses every aspect of their life, and over time turns them into investment bankers and real estate mogul who talk too loudly and call hippie-looking people like me “bro.” You know, the people that are ruining our country.

Call me crazy, but I’d rather be a dinosaur.

But, Andy, what about “having fun?” Isn’t that the point?

Of course not. Having fun at soccer is impossible and a lie. It’s a 90 minute game where the mean average of points is 3; the possibility of you actually touching the ball let alone scoring a goal is extremely low; for whatever reason, players are expected to give themselves mohawks; and as you grow older the reward for finishing a game quickly diminishes from pizza parties to season-long injuries. Please point me in the direction of where the fun is occurring.

Children have ideas of their own of what fun is—and I’m guessing soccer is not very high on the list. In fact, children are amazing creatures of imagination, so why the fuck do we force them to play a game that totally undermines that?

Much to the children’s dismay, parents enroll their offspring in overpriced soccer leagues every year, praying that maybe it will be different this time, maybe this was the sperm carrying my family’s lost trait to be natural winners. And you know why they think that? Because sometime long ago, their parents made them play soccer for no reason, too. And thus soccer exists in America merely to sustain America’s disgust for soccer. The only reason we get kids kids to play in the first place is as morally twisted as you may expect: Capri Suns. Everyone knows children will come running to pouches of juice without any possible consideration towards how their futures are being ruined.

This brings me to the World Cup. Several months ago, In the midst of all the pointless obsession over the World Cup in our country (or as I like to call it “A Lesson in Geography as Illustrated by Soccer”), I felt as though there were so many elements that carried over from everyone’s peewee soccer days. If you can remember, there were dreamy, idiotic Kia commercials that told us the U.S. was, after neglecting it for some many years, finally connecting with the world, that we were beginning to understand why the world loves this game, that a little boy in Manhattan’s upper west side juggling a shiny soccer ball is practically the same as a little Ugandan boy dribbling a sphere of trash on the dusty plains of Africa, that you and I aren’t so different after all. But that is all bullshit.

And the reason is peewee soccer.

Americans who were pretending to like soccer during the World Cup are no different than their four-year-old selves standing in a circle on the soccer field, mindlessly bum-rushing a black-and-white ball: They just want to win. Like everything else. America only cared about the World Cup because America threw enough money at it that they actually could have won—which is ridiculous for a country who not only hates to watch soccer, but took the name “football” for a game we made up. We are crazy about winning: a motive they instill in us with pee-wee soccer and Capri Sun.

There it is. My sad statement on competitive sports—whether there’s anything to be done is another question left to the motivated. Oh, well. In the meantime I’ll continue looking numb during a conversation about sports where I’ll be drifting off into my own head, imagining my skin getting scaly, my teeth pointier, looking for some grass to pull up, flipping my middle claw at competitive sports.

The First Weeks: The Hunt

When I first arrived in Dublin I had no job, no permanent housing, no bank account and no social network.  I pretty much was out here on my own, like that Irene Cara song from Fame (yes, I make references to music constantly). 

My first few weeks were tough to say the least but thanks to the inter-webs, there was enough information to give me an idea as to what I might on expect in terms of the job market, median renting costs, registering with the Garda (police/immigration bureau) and a plethora of other necessary hurdles I’d have to jump through. That said nothing can prepare you more than on ground experience.

Prior to my departure, I saved up enough money to take care of my living costs for up to five months and I also made sure to book short-term housing accommodations for my first two weeks in Dublin. 

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