Friday, May 21, 2010

Match Report: Sanatorium FC (LIverpool v. Chelsea, 5.4.10)

If Nicole Diver and Hans Castorp pulled their friends at the sanatorium out of their beds to play a match, this is what the match would look like. Televised Ambien. At first it makes sense: after all it’s 8am on Sunday, I’m hungover, wrapped up in blankets on the couch and I could care less about either Liverpool or Chelsea. I’m watching solely to will Liverpool to win so Chelsea doesn’t take the title. A defensive viewing like this is never passionate or pretty. But slowly it dawns on me that the players are not hungover on the couch wrapped in blankets watching teams they don’t care about. So how come they look like they are?

The second half picked up a bit, but not enough to erase the singular anesthetized miseries of the first. It was impossible to distinguish one comatose set piece from the next. I flickered in and out of sleep, last night’s bad choices still breaking down in my bloodstream, and as I did I began to dream of a game of football played by a group of half-sedated lunatics running around in the snow. Slow motion limbs all at the wrong angles. There’s a light snow falling and the light’s a strange gray, cold and bright. Did I steal this from somewhere? A Herzog movie? Harmony Korine? The scene is so familiar and specific that I’m convinced I have, and yet afterwords I spend weeks trying to track it down, to no avail. 
In this dream scene, as in life, the most misery was Gerrard’s. He seems to grow older by the instant. He gives off a curious sense of having turned on himself; his football does too. It’s all over the pitch. Every kick shines with crisis. At best, wayward. At worst, spiritually slovenly. In the first half of the real game he made a back pass that Drogba intercepted and sent straight into the net. A play from another planet, where streams run backwards and children eat ice cream for breakfast. Illogic in motion. It is beyond my control Gerrard's foot announces to the world. As I drift off I imagine him in a little paper gown, with little paper slippers, waiting for a little paper cup full of pills. It is beyond my control Gerrard announces to the nurse. I hope it doesn’t come to that for him. One more morning in a football universe as counterintuitive as this and it may come to that for me. 

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