How about a topical blogpost? About what’s going on the news? In the world?
Under normal circumstances, I’d never mention American Football. Never much liked it. The longer I live far away, the less interesting it is to me.
But expats make friends they might avoid under other circumstances. So, I’m actually going to use the event of the game as a pretence to tell you the story of who I’ll call Patriot Jimmy.
He had no good reason being in Germany. None. Married a local soon after he met her on a trip she’d taken to the US, and they made their home here. A situation he was painfully unprepared for.
Some people arrive in a new country and try learning the local customs. The more they’re confronted with unfamiliar things, the more they steel themselves to be flexible and attempt to stay curious. Others go the opposite direction. They hold onto anything that reminds them of home and often they make a little enclave of their lives. An alternate reality with friends and activities that make them a bit less homesick.
What does that have to do with anything? Why are you talking about how expats take to their new surroundings? Well, my nickname for Patriot Jimmy comes from his favourite team. The team from New England.
I met him through some mutual friends and because we had absolutely nothing in common, I talked with him about American Football. It was actually rather unfortunate, because he was under the false impression that I cared about all of this. I really didn’t.
I suppose it would’ve been one thing if he’d only been talking about the sport or the history of the sport. Or even if he’d talked about the cultural impact of the sport, but instead he was obsessed with one aspect of American Football.
He was absolutely certain that it was controlled by gamblers. That all the games were fixed and that there was nothing pure about it. It wasn’t the only thing Patriot Jimmy talked about, but it was the thing that’d sent him into passionate diatribes.
He was also obsessed with men picking up men in public restrooms, which was something I’d never paid much attention to. I don’t think that’s a particular German thing, is it? But Patriot Jimmy was convinced that all the German men in the public restrooms were after his little Jimmy. When he got going on that topic, I was actually relieved when I was able to steer the conversation back to his corrupt and unfair American Football conspiracies.
Four years ago, the same teams who are playing tonight were meeting each other in a game where Patriot Jimmy’s team was heavily favoured. The build up to the big game, which is normally lost on me, was very central in my expat life.
For a few weeks, Patriot Jimmy was just not that interested in talking about public restrooms or why American barbeque was infinitely better, or whatever else it was that he talked about. His singular interest during that time was this one game. And his team. And how great it was going to be for him to be able to lord the victory over members of his family, who happened to be huge fans of the other team.
But if you’ve somehow missed the news in the buildup to this year’s game, Patriot Jimmy’s team did not prevail four years ago. They lost in a last minute play of some sort of epic proportion. I didn’t know about it until I read about it online the next morning.
And of course the first thing I thought of was poor Patriot Jimmy. I tried not thinking about his family members and their guaranteed ridicule of his team’s monumentally disappointing loss. I waited until a reasonable hour to call (he’d been up all night watching it), and what was the first thing out of his mouth?
‘What’d I tell you? The game was fixed. They built up the game and the gamblers all bet according to who they already knew was going to win. The whole thing was fixed.’
Wonder where Patriot Jimmy is tonight. Hope he bet on the right team.