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Beacon blog: Soccer widow. What next?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 24, 2010 - There's a World Cup ban in my life these days, and it's on information.

Mostly, this ban seems to be imposed during the week, when Jai, my husband, is busy at work. He won't watch the games on his phone. He really can't watch them at his desk, which he's rarely at anyway. And so he records them, waits until our son, Max, is off to bed and sits down for a nightly glut of soccer.

The ban comes because he doesn't want to know anything -- not a single call, not a single goal.

This isn't easy. He pretty much avoids social media all day, keeps the radio off in his car, keeps his eyes away from headlines on the computer.

I actually agree with his desire to experience the games without knowing the results. I don't enjoy books or movies if I know the endings, though I recently explained the convoluted ending of "Lost," to my sister, who lives most of the year in Italy and holds no such ban on information. She plans to watch it anyway.

So when I saw that the U.S. had beat Algeria in a very last-minute goal on Wednesday, I squealed, picked up my phone and very quickly set it back down again.

Then I waited.

Turns out that wasn't necessary. Jai's co-workers, who know of his information ban, tell him the scores anyway. But they can't be really soccer lovers, because they didn't tell him how or when Landon Donovan made his game-winning, U.S.-advancing goal. You better believe I wasn't going to be the one to tell him.

Through the afternoon, through an evening trip to the pool, through a backyard barbecue at our house, I kept my mouth shut. And then, after our son was in bed, Jai discovered our DVR would really be the one to let him down. It didn't record the U.S. game. The other two? Yep, no problem. But the one game he wanted to see -- nothing.

He settled for watching highlights, and even that was enough to nearly bring him to tears, he told me, for the amazing goal Donovan scored, and all the emotion that went with it.

Finally, information ban lifted for the night, I got to what I really wanted to ask my husband. What happens now? How do things work from here? Can you draw me a bracket? My editor was curious, too. Is it like the Sweet 16? she asked. And I'm even more confused as I think instantly of MTV's awful show about 16th birthday parties that leave me little hope for the generations coming up behind mine.

Turns out what happens next is, like soccer, pretty simple. The teams are separated into groups, A, B, C and so on. The winner of group A takes on the runner-up of group B. They only get one game, this time, so the stakes are markedly higher.

After Wednesday's U.S. win, Germany went on to lead its group, which made me happy both because we have lots of German friends, but also because I think I'd rather the U.S. play Ghana at this point that Deutschland.

From there, 16 teams narrow themselves into eight, then four, then two.

Lucky for me, I'll get to hang around all day on Saturday watching matches because we've decided our son is ready to be potty trained and the diapers are coming off. We won't be leaving the house, you can be sure.

Then, on Sunday, we'll be watching England vs. Germany, and thanks to an e-mail I got this morning, I highly suspect another friend of mine will be, too.

Axel, one of our German friends, got married last weekend. He and his new wife, Katie, are in Hawaii for three weeks. Today, he e-mailed me some fun links, including Lego lovers who seem to be as mad for soccer as everyone else in my life: https://www.legofussball.eu/?Lego-Videos:WM_2010:ENG_-_USA .

He hasn't mentioned if he'll be watching Sunday's match, but if he's taking time out of his honeymoon in Hawaii to e-mail about soccer, I'm guessing he will.

And so another soccer widow is born. Welcome to the club, Katie.

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