Yeah, Artland Dragons. Andrew may remember the Artland Dragon, considering we had lunch in their brewery a year ago. The Dragon on the side of the beers we drank is the symbol for Quakenbruck's Basketball team. Why not a frog? I'm not sure.
But Dr. Figura had an extra ticket, and I was in a mood to do whatever anyone gave me the opportunity for. Anyone who knows me, knows I don't talk about sports much. That's because I'm not much into them, and my greatest exposure probably comes from a Baseball game with Gompie. That was until a year ago, when I watched the World Cup in the bar beside the Manneken Pis. Sports are nothing to be afraid of, they might even be a little fun. So I'm feeling pretty good about this basketball game, despite not knowing many of the rules.
I get directions to the Stadium from Oliver, and end up following the general masses anyway. I meet Dr. Figura, his wife (whom I met the day before at the Lowen Apotheke), and his college-age son. Figura buys me a drink, and his son leads me into the Stadium. Through the cave of aluminum benches he leads me, while the speakers pump Katty Perry's ET (Do they understand the lyrics? I wouldn't have if I hadn't bothered to look it up), a beer in one hand, my jacket in the other. It's hot in this room, and my jacket is worthless, an unfortunate burden. I discover later that Quakenbruck's stadium is the loudest in Germany. Apparently, they've hit the golden mean of building volume and crowd density--the Stadium is enclosed, small, and always packed with people.
The Artland Dragon runs out, does a flip, and lands on his butt with the costume's head staring up at him. Not sure if they could have rehearsed that. They have cheerleaders, the floor is lined with scrolling advertisements, and the crowd is wild. About 1/10 of the audience is cheering for the other team, the Phantoms. The other 9/10 is fiercely devoted and carries a clapping noisemaker meant to distract the opposition during free throws. I'm told that this is where the American players who couldn't make it into the big leagues go, when I ask about the American flags next to several of the players on the handouts.
The game begins. The Artland Dragons shoot into the lead early on, leading by fifteen points at the peak of their game. Eventually, the Phantoms begin to catch up. At the first sign of the Phantom's strength, they stop the game and deploy the cheerleaders.
WE WILL WE WIIILLLL ROCK YOU! ROCK YOU!
Did I just hear Freddie Mercury in Germany, with the whole crown singing along?
The Phantoms tie the Dragons at half time, and Figura talks about how this is one of many games between the two teams this season and how last time the Dragons won by thirty points as he buys me another beer. The Artland cheerleaders put on a brave front, but the Phantoms smell weakness. They pull ahead slowly but, by the long and short of it, the Phantoms are leading near the end of the game. EMERGENCY CHEERLEADERS!! but it's not enough. The game is lost, and vengeance is promised Tuesday.
Figura takes me out with his family to a local pub near my home, whose owner I recognize from the game, and my jacket finally comes in handy. We have a couple beers with peanuts, which is incidentally one of the first times beer has really and truly come together in a way most wonderful with food--the icecold beer, the warm and salty peanuts, the sunset view over the train tracks--it was all good.
Sunday passed sweetly, yet uneventfully. My next blog will be about Monday.