Without the benefit of TV or radio, I nevertheless enjoyed the entire range of emotions from last night’s Eufa Cup semi-final game between Steaua Bucharest (Romania) and Boro Middlesbrough (England). That’s soccer for my fellow Americans.
I was sitting in my apartment quietly enjoying a dignified Kvint cognac from Transdnistria (served in a used, plastic cup: I’m elegance all the way here people) when at about 10:15PM the first wave of noise swept the city. The roar of celebration rose simultaneously and swiftly, coming from all directions and climaxing when a guy in the building across from mine shrieked “Goooooaaaaaaalllll!!!!!” out his window. Bucharest 1, Middlesbrough 0.
Ten minutes later, it happened again. This time the festivities triggered two nearby car alarms and scared a dozen street dogs into a 20 minute chorus of barking. Two to nil, Bucharest. I braced myself for a late night. During the quarter-final game a few weeks back, when Steaua Bucharest played Rapid Bucharest, despite the absolute guarantee of a win for Romania and a trip to the semis, a spontaneous, crazed street party kicked off when Steaua prevailed with drunken singing, chanting, horn honking and general chaos until late into the night. If Steaua beat Middlesbrough and advanced to the final, it was going to be freakin’ lunacy.
Then Steaua screwed the pooch. Even through the cognac buzz, I could sense that things had taken a turn for the worse. Instead of collective city-wide cries of joy, there was silence, save for occasional scattered gasps of horror and wails of anger as Middlesbrough scored four unanswered goals, the final knifing coming in the 89th minute. Middlesbrough 4, Steaua 2. When the horn honking hadn’t started by midnight, I knew there would be no street party and I went to bed.