Got Balls?

“So, did you get hit in the face with a ball yet?” one business-casual fellow asked another on the interminable line for drinks at Saturday night’s Nike-sponsored celebration of “the beautiful game,” soccer. Apparently that was proof that you were really there, dude. “There” was Electronic Arts, the video gaming and graphics megalith on Lincoln Boulevard in Playa Vista, in which Nike had built a mini soccer field. Corporate teams from “the industry” (that would be the entertainment industry, in case you were wondering) kicked around with semipro teams, while a DJ played terrible electro-dance music.

“I’m really starting to hate this party,” I told fellow Councilor Linda, after 15 minutes on the drink line. My irritability was periodically appeased by the passed appetizers, some of which were Brazilian yummies like chewy cheese balls.

“But there are cute boys here,” Linda pointed out. It was true, but most of them were playing Nascar ’06 or chasing coolers full of cold beer, which the planners brought out when they realized the drink lines were a buzz killer. (By the way, why do men pour beer into the side of their mouth? Is that supposed to look cool? Is it to protect their capped teeth? I am so not impressed.)

Ten minutes later (yes, we were hitting the half-hour mark), it became apparent that something had brought the line to a screeching halt. Three very thirsty girls were ordering drinks and then chugging them at the bar while the poor overworked bartender mixed their next round. I’m sorry, but that goes against all cardinal rules of free-booze etiquette. Everyone knows you double-fist it and move on.

Finally in possession of the hands-down worst caipirinha I’ve ever tasted, I went over to check out the action on the “field.” I don’t know if there were any genuine futbol superstars out there, but it was kind of exciting for a minute.

After a pseudo-Brazilian carnival number performed by four uncoordinated dancers in feather headdresses (“When are they gonna break into ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’?” wondered Doug, another friend who had somehow wandered into this scene), Linda and I went to the “historical” area, where vintage photographs and facts about soccer were confusingly interspersed with current Nike products and catalog imagery. The actual reason for this event had been effectively veiled until this moment. “Ooh, I want those!” said Linda, descending upon a really cute pair of off-white suede Nike soccer shoes with a red satin swoosh and a blue-and-white “NY” on the heel. We schemed about forming an L.A. Weekly soccer team that would naturally require us to own cute soccer shoes. Maybe it was the caipirinhas talking or just love of the beautiful game, but somewhere over the samba strains I definitely heard the ka-ching of Nike’s cash register.

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