As a player, winning a World Cup for the first time makes you want to kiss the first Spanish TV reporter you see, especially if she's your distracting girlfriend. Losing a World Cup, on the other hand, has a different effect—on the footballers, their home countries, and their fans. The French opened up Parliamentary investigations into their team's spectacular loss and made the team return home in coach. The Brazilians tried to kill the players when they were coming off the plane after sending their normally pampered asses back home, also in coach. Maybe that's the problem: these superstars are so used to being treated like royalty that flying coach is the ultimate punishment, whereas the North Korean penance of being forced to fly coach and work in the coal mines is probably a tad more effective. It's a toss-up between that and Uday Hussein's popular method of flogging losing players and making them bath in raw sewage. Somehow, I can't picture Cristiano Ronaldo being forced to shower in shit as punishment for his terrible World Cup, though Nike probably wants to flush him down the toilet right about now. But for fans such as myself, there is no punishment greater than having to visit a World Cup smack-talking country when all you want to do is be on a beach somewhere. That's why my first stop coming back from South Africa after Argentina exited the Cup was France. Sure enough, Paris as a whole acted as if the World Cup had never happened. This, and about 20 liters of wine had me feeling great.
So great, in fact, that I decided to push my luck and accept an invitation from some good Brazilian friends of mine to go hang out in Montauk for the weekend as soon as I arrived in the US. With dozens of Brazilians, no less (as well as BlackBook's very own party gal Cayte Grieve, it turns out). Normally, any Argentina loss means you can't set foot in Brazil for at least a few weeks, unless you are a complete masochist. Had Brazil won the World Cup instead of Spain, I would have banned myself from Brazil for about four years, till the next one (which happens to be in Brazil). And I have a lot of family and friends in Brazil. In fact, it's one of my favorite places on Earth, but the sheer amount of chest-thumping would have been unbearable for this particular Argentine. Even my little 8-year-old cousins there would have been talking smack to me.
Luckily Brazil lost this time, a day before Argentina, so I gave peace a chance and Montauk a shot. Plus, it was all for a good cause: to support a Brazilian children's charity at an event sponsored by a Brazilian hair product called Envix. My friend, the artist Damon Johnson, had even painted some soccer balls to auction off for the event, held at the muito chic Surf Lodge in Montauk. The morning of the event, I woke up to the news that Lionel Messi and his girlfriend were vacationing in plain sight, post World Cup, smack in the middle of Rio de Janeiro, strolling around the beach like nothing happened. Could it be? Had our respective defeats at the World Cup brought our two countries together, united in the face of footballing adversity? Would I be able to have calm, rational football discussions with my Brazilian friends and family regarding Maradona's clear superiority to Pele, until the next World Cup? I think so. Or rather, I thought so, until I was driving back to New York after a couple of perfect beach days with two Brazilian girls in the back seat, stuck in traffic somewhere in Long Island, and I heard, "Nossa! Four goals, Fernando...we only lost by one. Coitadinho Maradona. At least we didn't have to see him naked!" I refrained from driving into oncoming traffic, but I'm officially banning all contact with Brazilians for a couple weeks.
Photos by Hunter Muse