City Paper is not for tourists
Pub patrons aren’t the only passionate soccer fans being distracted from doing work during this summer’s World Cup. Wait staff, too. Special correspondent Christopher Heller reports from Jaleo at 480 7th Street NW, where your late afternoon lunch just got later because Spain is playing Honduras on TV:
6th minute-A small crowd, roughly a dozen, is watching the match on a TV tucked in the corner of the restaurant. About 30 more patrons are just eating. One soccer watcher is wearing camouflage pants with his Honduras jersey. He shoots me a dirty look and mutters something in Spanish. (No clue what he’s saying.)
17th minute-The small crowd bursts into moderate applause. One man raises his glass of Coke. Spain is up, 1-0.
18th minute-A waiter tells me this is the largest soccer crowd he’s seen here yet during the tournament. Two yuppies behind me appear to be drinking mojitos. No one else is drinking.
26th minute-Two guys start debating the bonafides of Spanish soccer powerhouses Barcelona FC and Real Madrid. “Real Madrid is Spain!” one asserts.
30th minute-Waiters keep stopping in front of the TV to watch. Some patrons seem upset. Not soccer fans, obviously.
33rd minute-One distracted waiter just got chewed out in front of everyone by the manager.
34th minute-The bartender switches the TV to the Spanish language telecast. Crowd suddenly gets louder. “It’s so much better to watch the Spanish version,” one mojito-sipping viewer remarks. “They do it better.”
37th minute-Bartender turns up the volume. Crowd of soccer watchers now up to 20.
42nd minute-A guy at the bar tells a joke in Spanish. Everyone laughs. I wish I understood.
45th minute-The groans on that last miss drowned out the vuvuzelas.
Halftime-One mojito drinker applauds as the teams march off the field. Everyone else seems nonplussed. The manager is now watching TV, too. Pot and kettle, anyone?
46th minute-A few guys break out the red wine. Now you’re talking!
47th minute-Some Honduras fans just wandered into the restaurant. They’re sitting at the other end of the bar.
50th minute-An even larger cheer for Spanish goal No. 2! The Hondurans slide a bit farther down the bar.
54th minute-The yuppies behind me have just ordered up a pitcher of sangria.
58th minute-Crowd beginning to appear disinterested. Fewer eyes on the TV. Conversations turn to other things. But not for long.
60th minute-Murmurs from the Honduran side of the bar as the ref calls a penalty kick for Spain. A miss! One guy on the Spanish side of the bar bangs his head against the table.
65th minute-Fist pumps from the Honduran supporters after the blocked kick. Wine consumption has noticeably tailed off since the penalty.
70th minute-Restaurant nearly empty now except for those watching the game. Now the manager and waiters are watching the game together. Heart-warming.
80th minute-One of the Honduran fans gets heckled in Spanish as he walks to the restroom.
82nd minute-Crowd is now down to 15.
86th minute-Viewers no longer drinking wine, though some have moved on to beer.
90th minute-Honduran fan checks his cell phone message. This one’s over.
Final whistle-Scattered applause after the win. The few Honduran fans who remain now head for the door, quickly, while Spanish fans order some more wine.