Did that dude just say that? Is he joking?
“Germany is the worst fucking country in the world.”
Nope. Not joking. He has that under-his-breath disdain that only accompanies seriousness. Let me just slide a few inches to my left to safely distance myself from his spitfire.
I just sat down a couple minutes ago in the lounge of my office building to watch the USA/Germany World Cup match. Of course the only seat left is on the couch next to this bro. My German-born co-worker, Nadja, who may or may not have just heard him spout this nationalistic nonsense, is on the couch to my left. Oh, the drama of the middle seat!
The German squad makes a run for goal, Nadja skootches up in her seat with excitement. Kick…Miss! The ten or so American fans in the lounge cheer. Nadja groans as she flops back into the couch next to me.
“Germans are fucking crybabies.”
My body is tensing up. I’m going into that focused zone of heightened awareness: the one in which my interest in the thing I should be paying attention to, the game on TV, is supplanted by my fear that something bad might happen, that this dude is going to start some shit…with Nadja…over a soccer match…in the lounge of the office building…at 10:00am on a Thursday.
Another German run at goal. Nadja cheers when a shot almost gets by Tim Howard.
“Take it upstairs,” my dickish couch mate passive-aggressively directs towards Nadja.
So a few scenarios are playing out in my head. Scenario one goes like this:
Me: “Dude. When was the last time you were in Germany?”
Bro: “I’ve never been. I don’t need to go. Hitler, man. That’s all I need to know. Fucking Germans.”
At this point, I would shake my head without acknowledging the short-sightedness of his response and turn back to the game. But he’s not done. Why? Because he’s a dick, of course.
Bro: “Bro, you got a problem? I can say whatever I want. It’s a free country. Take your Germany-lover and take it upstairs. Fuck you and fuck Germany.”
And what am I gonna do? Shit, I don’t know this guy. He could key my car or punch me in the face! I don’t need a new paint job or broken nose over some jackass’s comments. So I’d be put in my place and likely sit in silence for the remainder of the match due to his macho outpouring of bruteness. After all, the more macho the man, the better the man. Right?
Scenario two plays out a bit differently:
Me: “Oh, I get it. You’re the angry sports fan who still hasn’t grown up enough to realize that your anger is naïve, childish, and frankly, extremely small-sighted.”
Bro tries to chime in, but I’m too quick with my clever and reasonable wit.
Me: “The World Cup is a time when people from all nationalities come together and have fun backing some of the best athletes in the world. It shows how connected the world is and how lucky we are to have sports. Stop being a dick.”
At this point, the ten or so folks in the lounge would cheer and pat me on the back, and Bro would tuck his tail between his legs and run out the door, probably tripping on the way, having learned a valuable lesson in kindness and sportsmanship.
But instead, I do nothing. Which is basically a poor man’s version of scenario one. I simply don’t care enough. I sit in silence and watch the rest of the game. Nadja doesn’t seem affected by Bro’s continuous contentious comments despite that they’re clearly directed towards her. At one point, she looks in his direction when he is teeing up nationalistic insults, unknowing to her gaze. I surmise that she’s sizing him up, taking stock of him, and ultimately feeling pity for him. I can’t detect even a hint of desire to punch him the face. A desire which I am suppressing greatly. She turns back to the game and watches without adjusting her demeanor at all – cheering and booing, laughing and gasping – and when we rode the elevator back to our office, she didn’t once mention Bro.
Maybe I should take a page from her book.
I sure would have liked to see her punch him the face though.