In my house, the summer of 2010 won't be remembered for the new playset we installed in our backyard, or the swarm of mosquitoes that's covered our arms and legs with an obscene number of welts or even the trips to visit various grandparents scattered across the country.
It will be remembered for the vuvuzela.
The ominous drone of those sanity-shattering South African horns has been blaring nonstop on every television in my house, making me feel as I sort laundry or load the dishwasher as if Jason from Friday the 13th just might be sneaking up behind me with a bloody hatchet.
Turn the TV off, you say? Unfortunately, that's impossible — you see, I married into a family of soccer fanatics. My older girls have played the game practically since they could say "Pelé." My 3-year-old son will join his first team in September. My husband, the Ziegfeld of our fledgling futbol dynasty, has coached high school soccer, preschool soccer, recreational soccer, indoor soccer and 3-v-3 competitive soccer. I've tried to get with the program, too, signing up as a soccer-team mom, attending game after endless game, and even developing the highly prized ability to explain "offsides" to the other parents in the stands.
But that vuvuzela just might be my undoing.
"It ruins the whole game for me," I complained to my husband after sitting through an hour of honking. "It's like a one-note theme song called Disaster."
"I like it," my stepdaughter said darkly from where she sat slumped in a den armchair. I looked over at her, dressed in head-to-toe black that was punctuated by blood-red lipstick.
"Well, of course you do," I said, smiling sympathetically. I turned back to Hubs.
"Anyway. I read that they're talking about banning vuvuzulas in the stadiums, which I think would be a brilliant idea. If they ban the vuvuzela, I guarantee television ratings will go up worldwide."
But that was three weeks ago, and I've since lost hope. Today marks 21 straight days of World Cup games playing out to the tune of what must be hell's theme song, and we've still got another week to go. Couple the horns with my husband's fanatical screeching during the matches and it's a wonder I'm not holding my head and rocking in a corner somewhere in the far reaches of the house, a line of drool slowly making its way down my chin.
The one bright spot in my World Cup experience occurred when my family opted to head over to 12 South Taproom for last week's 9 a.m. match-up between Team USA and Algeria. If I couldn't beat the vuvuzela, I reasoned, perhaps I could neutralize it with a pint of early morning beer. Hubs and the older girls headed over to the pub shortly before 9, while I dropped off our 3- and 6-year-olds at a friend's house. As I was on my way to the restaurant, my cell phone rang.
"It's standing-room-only here," my husband said, sounding panicked. "We couldn't even open the door. I'm missing the first half of the game! Turn back! Turn back!"
"Okay," I said wearily, turning off the road and into a parking lot. "I'll see you at home."
Hubs and the girls made it back a few minutes after I'd arrived.
"What happened?" he demanded as he walked in the door. "What did I miss? We could only find the game in Spanish on the radio, and all we could make out was 'Beel Cleenton.' What the hell does Bill Clinton have to do with anything?"
"Well," I ventured nervously. "From what I could tell, there's been a lot of ... kicking. And um, running around." I didn't have the heart to tell him that I'd actually been watching The Real Housewives of New York on DVR until I heard him pull up in the driveway.
He frowned and turned up the volume on the television. The familiar sounds of aural torture filled the air. I closed my eyes and said a little prayer.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" my husband exclaimed. I quickly opened my eyes, preparing to defend my faith, but Hubs' eyes were on the TV. "FILL! FILL!" he shouted at it before clapping raucously.
For the next hour, we watched as Team USA struggled to score a goal against Algeria. I tried my best to focus on the game, but my family's shouting combined with the blaring vuvuzelas resulted in a wicked migraine. Things only got worse when our team scored a goal in the final minutes of the match, and Hubs ran around the room whooping, his arms spread like airplane wings.
"I'm going to go look for some ibuprofen," I said weakly, holding one hand to my forehead. Hubs, overcome by euphoria, didn't even hear me.
I stood shakily and stumbled toward the bathroom in a cold sweat. I never thought it would happen, but there's no denying it: I've finally caught World Cup Fever.
Read more Suburban Turmoil at www.suburbanturmoil.com.
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