Oct 5, 2010

The fall soccer season is underway, and frankly not all for the better. Yesterday, we drove out to a night game in San Ramon with Frederick, the father of one of the other players. It was a disaster.

Behind his back we call him Frederick “How-great-I-am” because he has an irresistible tendency to draw attention to himself. He’s Boston ‘Southie’ Irish, a middle weight boxer in college, with a blown up photo of Robert F. Kennedy in his office, a degree in the Classics from Cambridge, a geologist by trade, and now a white-haired, deeply disheveled man, whose whiny voice always soars above the crowd. He’s the one that yells at the ref, “Hey, hey, don’t give up your day job.” Or, as an aside in the stands, “Get a Lasik you fuckin’ idiot.”

Over the years the team has suffered several penalties and admonitions because of his uproarious commentary. He even criticizes our players and he’ll be standing right in front of the player’s parents. He doesn’t care. He criticizes his own son to high heaven, and finally, the coach has realized that Frederick’s son, who is already high strung and tentative, cannot play within earshot of his father.

Incidentally, this is a U-19 league. Whenever he hears that, in whatever setting, Frederick calls out in a thick Nazi accent, “Attenzion all U-boats, Zis is zee Kaiser sprekenng: Zink za Lusitania”.

This team includes an ethnically diverse collection of players from San Francisco and, San Mateo, and a couple from the Central Valley. They’re in the top division, playing top ranked teams in the state and the nation, but now, just a month into the season, are 1 and 4.

So yesterday afternoon we went off with Frederick, who actually can be very refined, even urbane — you couldn’t imagine that but it true. The problem is he played high school football and has never accepted the more demure culture of soccer. “TAKE HIM OUT,” he’ll yell at the top of his lungs if he sees an opposing player who does too many tricks or is a dirty player. “Just take him out, what are you waiting for?”

Speaking of culture Frederick has taken up listening to hip-hop, partly in an effort to co-opt some of his son’s other interests and partly because he enjoys annoying whomever he can. And so as we go tooling down Tassajara Rd. in heavy traffic, past the gated entrances to Black Hawk, Frederick has K’naan on heart thumping boom base singing the refrain….

So what’s hardcore
Really, are you hardcore? Hmm
So what’s hardcore?
Really, are you hardcore? Hmm

Frederick sings right along himself looking people down in passing cars. He’s from his own particular hood of mind and loves these lyrics above all:

In the day you should never take the alleyway
The only thing that validates you is the AK...

This is not all the alter ego-fanaticism of an older man with a screw loose, ever looking to bleed a snotty nose. He’s also a dedicated enemy of the Tea Party and assumes, sometimes wrongly, that everyone he sees outside the city is a party member. He’s forever telling people to read Frank Rich, or his real hero, Paul Krugman.

And so we arrive last night at the Mustang soccer complex. This is one of these state of the art facilities that includes not only the finest turf, on two fields no less — and an elaborate sunshade for spectators, designed by a famous architect —but a two story club house, with veranda and Spanish tile roof.

The game starts out well enough and at the end of the half there’s no score, but early in the second half our team’s defense begins to falter and the mid-field can’t get the ball to the forwards. Then the goalie is called for obstructing play, which leads to a score on a penalty shot and things go down from there. Suddenly, it’s 3 nil, Frederick is seething and in his tantrum blocks the view of a parent from the other team.

“Hey, take a seat, soldier,” says the parent.

“What did you say?” asks Frederick, who hasn’t confronted anyone like himself in ages.

“I said it would be nice if you would sit down so the rest of us could watch the game. What can’t you understand?”

Frederick is stunned by his doppelganger and the drama is on.

“Here’s what I can’t understand,” says Frederick, now standing in front of this man who’s sitting a metal bleacher with about 20 people, all fans for the other team. “I thought they only let you out of your little gated community at night.”

“What?” asks the doppelganger in disbelief. Someone else yells, “Go away old man.”

“Does the institute know you’re out here,” ask Frederick. “Did you sign out? Aren’t you supposed to be with a supervisor at all times?”

“Listen, asshole. Get out of my sight.”

“I’m sorry, is this the Black Hawk charm I’ve heard so much about? The discrete charm of the boobie bourgeoisie?

“Hey, can’t you just leave?” yells someone in the bleacher.

“Please sir,” adds a woman in the front row.

“How much ignorance can a woodchuck chuck?” asks Frederick.

“Who is this guy?” someone asks.

“He’s an idiot,” someone else says. “It’s people from San Francisco, they’re all wing nuts.”

“Wait a minute,” says Frederick. “How many people here are Tea Party members? Raise your right hand. That’s your heil hand for those of you who can’t remember. “

He does his heil salute.

“This guy is nuts,” someone says.

Frederick looks at the crowd carefully. “I see only one person wearing their brown shirt. The rest of you are on report.”

“I’m calling security,” someone says taking out their cell phone. The parent who originally confronted Frederick stands up. Another man sitting further back jumps off the bleacher.

“If you come any closer I’ll have Christina O’Donnell start masturbating,” says Frederick who would love a fight and just at the moment there’s another Mustang goal so now he’s Monsieur Kamikaze Miserable at the ramparts.

His doppelganger and sidekick sense that this is not someone they should fool with. Frederick is not a big man but gets a few inches with sheer moxie and the sense this is really someone who likes reckless abandon.

“Okay let’s just watch the games,” says one of the mothers who steps in between the gentlemen and that’s the end of the matter.

After the game, we get back in Frederick’s car. He’s beyond himself, but at the same very calm, deliberate. He turns on the music and it’s K’naan singing smile….. He turns up the volume and we slowly, you can’t believe how slowly, roll out of there.

Smile When you struggilin
Smile when Your in jail
Smile When your deadbroke
Smile And the rents due
Smile You ain’t got friends now
Smile And no one knows you
Never let them see you down smile while you bleeding
Smile When he leaves you
Smile Cause girl he needs you
Smile Plenty single mothers cry the tears you do
Smile dispite the war
Smile dispite the pain yo
Never let them see you down smile while you bleeding

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