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Will early morning alcohol sales dry up across the District if the United States fails to advance to the World Cup knockout round? Only Algeria stands in the way of more ante meridiem revelry. Special correspondent Kim Chi Ha tries to report from Lucky Bar, where she is turned away shortly before Wednesday’s 10 a.m. kickoff—”reached maximum capacity a while ago,” she reports—and then heads across Connecticut Avenue to Public Bar, where she finds slightly more elbow room. Slightly. “There’s more people [here] than I’ve ever seen on a Friday night.”
4th minute-The wide screen covers an entire wall downtstairs. One dude says his dad, who operates an NGO, let everyone have the day off. Crowd is chanting “U-S-A! U-S-A!”
8th minute-Finally got a drink. Bartenders are slammed. So, I’m double-fisting Miller Lite and Malibu pineapple. Lots of others clutch Peronis.
12th minute-A guy is gushing about his glory days on the soccer field. “I used to play,” he insists.
13th minute-Dude who ordered a breakfast sandwich can’t locate the hot sauce. He looks crestfallen. He’s drinking a Guinness. Man, it’s early.
15th minute-Everyone cheers as former President Bill Clinton appears in the stands in South Africa. I wonder, “Who’s the guy next to him?” Lots of suits standing around. These people are obviously skipping work. One guy wears U.S. flag-themed sunglasses. I don’t know how you see through those things.
20th minute-Reporting from the second floor now because the lower level is getting too hardcore for me. Upstairs, two screens show the England game. The other two show the U.S. Everyone seems to be complaining about this. A foul call elicits more groans.
25th minute-Bartender is wearing a Peroni t-shirt. Guess it’s a promotional day or something. They’re keeping a stockpile of $3 beers in two giant trash cans.
26th minute-U.S. goal is called back offside. “What the fuck was that?” one guy says. Another adds, “So, this ref sucks, too.”
29th minute-Everyone seems enraptured; half by the game, the other half by their Blackberries.
34th minute-One suit has both hands on his face in absolute frustration with the quality of U.S. play. Everyone else is ranting. “What are you doing?! Whaaat are you doooooing?!” “All you had to do was touch it!” “Just tap it in! Tap, tap, tap it in!” “Oh my god, you are killing me!” “I’m too old for this shit!”
40th minute-Holla! More cases of Peroni and Miller Lite arrive. A cute guy in a full suit is also wearing a FIFA headband. Interesting outfit.
Halftime-Mass exodus. Well, at least half the bar clears out. Those who remain seem to be getting a bit tipsy: “I looked up and could see all the way up your thigh but you looked bad as hell.” “How are you doing, bad boy? I think you need some coffee.” One dude’s got a towel out, wiping up his sweat. Is it that hot out, man?
53rd minute-Less people for the second half but still pretty crowded. Again, the selection of prospects is better than any given night at this bar. Towel guy is still toweling himself off. Shit, it’s not even hot in here.
55th minute-“So tired of this!” annoyed viewer remarks after another U.S. choke. “This physically hurts.” Suits are making friends with each other. “So, what do you do?” one asks. “Loan deposits,” another replies.
66th minute-Place gets more crowded. Lunchtime, I guess. Fans are becoming more frustrated by the minute. F-bombs left and right: “Fucking score!! Give me a fucking break!” Dude with his hands on his face from earlier is now pulling on his hair. Bartender: “Fucking bullshit.”
70th minute-Chants of “U-S-A” begin anew. Score remains 0-0
73rd minute-People might start crying, man. I’m biting my nails! I never bite my nails!
82nd minute-Vibe is so tense. Nobody is on their Blackberry now. Except me, of course. Geez.
87th minute-Some guy cries out, “Go Slovenia!”
89th minute-Fans hate the call. “He just put his hands on the ball!” “Why do you hate us?” “FIFA hates USA”
93rd minute-Finally. Gooooal! “U-S-A” chant begins again. One guy is in tears: “I think my heart stopped beating.”
Photo by Kim Chi Ha