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World Cup Chaos

June 16, 2002

As I type this, Ireland and Spain are in double OT of their World Cup "Round of 16" game. This game actually ended hours ago, but I don't know who won, and it's being shown in an "as live" setting on ABC. I've been careful to avoid anything that'd give away the results.

Last night was one of those really fun, memorable evenings. My old friend Nick Greco and I went to The Box Seat, a cool sports bar in the Green Hills section of Nashville. I'd been there once before, over Christmas 2001 when my brother Matt and I went there to see the Mississippi State/Cincinnati basketball game (that wasn't shown on TV locally).

From what Nick told me, it was a rather light atmosphere for a Saturday night. Not that surprising though, consider the NBA and NHL seasons just ended, the World Cup wasn't on last night, and there were only some random baseball games to be seen. Nick introduced me to his friend Liz, who works in the same building with him. I liked Liz from the get-go: she's one of those people who comes across as sincere and intelligent and fun all at the same time. Plus she has about the most gorgeous smile I've ever seen. So we sat around the bar and chatted and what not. This one older gentleman overheard one of our conversations and talked about the World Cup and his recent trip to Ireland. Lucky guy. I asked him if he took the tour of the Guinness brewery in Dublin, and he said yes, echoing my sentiments that the best glass of Guinness you'll ever have is at the end of the Guinness brewery tour. Good times.

I also met Ed Lambert, a man who worked as an assistant football coach for Vanderbilt University under three different head coaches. He just signed on as a scout for the Denver Broncos. I peppered him with questions about Terrell Davis and Clinton Portis and Ashley Lelie and Ed McCaffrey. His insights were very intriguing to me. He said McCaffrey is recovering well from his broken leg (suffered on September 10, 2001), and he said "If our quarterback (Brian Griese) can keep his head on straight", the Broncos should go to the Super Bowl. We'll see.

So there we were at The Box Seat, drinking our beers and talking... when Captain Morgan showed up. I kid you not. It was a guy dressed up as Captain Morgan, along with some chick in a pirate-themed outfit. I swear, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. Incredibly surreal. They were giving out free bottles of "Captain Morgan Gold". I liked it, but I think I was alone on it as Nick and Liz and the other people at the bar didn't particularly care for it. Though it was a bit too much sugar for me, so I switched back to my Bass beer.

Ireland and Spain remain tied at the end of overtime. 1-1... going to penalty kicks. Very nice.

Time passed, and the Box Seat started to clear out. At that point Liz went home, and Nick and I then went to this place called the Green House. It's a bar inside a greenhouse. Very unique. There was an interesting collection of people there -- mostly seemed to be the Vanderbilt crowd. Nick and I stayed there for just a little while, then headed downtown to Bar Nashville.

It was great getting to catch up with Nick. It'd been a long time since we'd been able to hang out. Hell, I had long hair the last time we did, if that gives you any idea. I've known Nick since first grade, so we're talking about nearly 20 years worth of stories to catch up on and remember. Things like roofing the cones, or our classic games of H-O-R-S-E on my basketball goal (where we'd each get three "distractions" per game to use against the other), or the classic 1995 Spring Break trip to Panama City. Ah, the memories.

Had to take a break just now to watch the Spain/Ireland penalty kicks. Insane crowd heat... the color commentator called it an "emotional finish". Very true. Spain won 3-2, which is a very low score for a 5-on-5 penalty kick situation. Both teams seemed incredibly drained after playing for 120 minutes. Wow. I feel drained just watching it.

Bar Nashville is an interesting place. It has a pretty wide-open feel to it as far as the dance floor and what not go, but I don't think it has that same intensity that Bar Tampa has. Kind of hard to explain. But it was still a fun time at Bar Nashville...

Then there's nothing like Waffle House at 3 in the morning. The Waff down by Harding Place and I-65 was packed last night. Some Fan Fair people, some locals, and some from who knows where. Their Double Waffle tasted mighty fine.

I now have the challenge of trying to come up with an entry (or several entries) for the Tennessean's summer fiction contest. The setup intro is much more simply written this year than in years past, but I think that may be a good thing. It allows for more latitude both from a storyline and a writing style standpoint.

That's about it for now. I promised Ed Lambert I'd go to Fazio's on Dale Mabry in Tampa and try their steak. And I made a deal with Nick Greco -- I said if he watched Memento, I'd watch Saving Silverman. Fair trade in my book. I'm taking a late flight to Tampa tonight, then I'll try to stay up for the 2:30 AM EDT game between the U.S. and Mexico in the World Cup. Should be quite a game... Then it's back to sleeping during the day, as the vacation comes to an end tomorrow night. It wasn't California, but it was quite an adventure. And there's something to be said for that.

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