Watching the World Cup in the Afterglow of Mexico’s Survival

at the coffee shop

Match Day 14 — June 27, 2018

The Match: Brazil beat Serbia 2-0

The Venue: Court Street Bagels in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn

The Vibe: Relaxed

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The World Cup appears in unlikely places. Thus, flashes of Neymar lured me into a shop with layered images of bagels climbing the storefront.

I stood and watched Brazil beat Serbia in the spare and sunlit deli, pastries stacked high beneath a glass countertop, the kitchen obscured by a tall deli case, the furniture and fridges old-school but without pretense. Rare for the area.

I chatted with the two staff members as we watched the game on a TV placed on top of a refigerator. A couple speakers sat nearby and the haphazard home entertainment system was like the setup inside a dorm room.

The simple decor, the dingy tin ceiling, the walls adorned with community flyers, the strip of pale blue paint above the door all felt refreshing after being trapped inside a sterile office.

Both workers were from Mexico and said they were happy, of course, that their country qualified for the Round of 16 despite losing 3-0 to Sweden earlier in the day.

It’s too bad they have to play Brazil, I said.

“It’s not a big deal,” the clerk shrugged. He likes Brazil, too, and that means the match will be a win-win.

After I learned he supports Brazil, I felt sorry that had I handed him my commuter cup to fill with coffee just as Thiago Silva scored Brazil’s second goal. We both missed it.

For the next twenty minutes, I stood sipping coffee and watching the rest of the match. The other worker sat silently. He did not seem interested in chatting with me when I tried to engage him.

While I watched, three other customers stopped in one-at-a-time to pick up coffee and sandwiches.

All three came separately but seemed identical: Trim , 5’10” men in their early 40s wearing Warby Parker eyeglasses, conservative haircuts with slight fades and J. Crew shorts that stopped three inches above their knees, thus exposing the vascular calves that suggest they run marathons.

I wasn’t sure when one copy of the Cobble Hill Man left and the next one arrived.

And I wondered, am I becoming him?

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