It's that magical time, once again.
The first World Cup I remember clearly was in 1998 - I was in Australia, and the games were in France. I honestly don't remember much other than being in the middle of cheering crowds everywhere I went for a month, and drinking hard in victories and defeats I had no stake in. But I could drink in a bar there, which was a good enough reason to get sauced.
In 2002, I had my first experience of closing a bar out, staying through the night, and being there to start drinking when it opened again. The games were in Korea and Japan that year, so they started between 11pm and 6am PT. The night our beloved boys lost to Germany in the semis, I left work at 11pm, went to the bar, watched a game already in progress, stayed through the 3am game and last call, and was drinking Bloody Marys at 6am when the bar reopened. The only thing that sucked was the US losing despite a late game, clear handball by Germany that prevented a tying US goal and also went uncalled. That and going to work again at 10am after the game was over...
In '06, I convinced the owners of the bar I was working at to open for the games. The host country was Germany, so games started between 6am and 2pm. Of course, most of the interesting ones were at 6am. Our biggest crowd was for the big US-Italy game. It was a brutal, grueling affair. And despite being a man down on bad calls, we almost pulled it off. A few moderately questionable calls combined with the seemingly impenetrable Azzuri defense to knock us out in the round of 32 (that and an embarrassing loss to a team I shall not name).
After '06, I made a plan with Sean, aka Seamus, aka Pinkus McGee, to save up and go to the 2010 games together. Sadly, a number of complications prevented this plan from reaching fruition. Even if we'd managed to save the money and keep things on track, I'd be prevented at from traveling halfway around the world at this stage by the impending birth of my daughter, but I still have a little sadness to not be in S. Africa with one of my best friends (Seamus, I'm thinking of you every moment of this).
Which brings us to my final point. Amy works for Madame Toussauds. Yes, they're a British company, and yes, many of their senior managers in the states are British. But this, on an iconic stretch of Americana, hours before one of the biggest games in US international soccer history, is simply unforgiveable.
Therefore, I am mounting a campaign to boycott Madame Toussauds. I hope you will join me.
Oh, and USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA!