LOS FELIZ, CA -The WCC kids were in an AYSO soccer camp this week, and being the kind-hearted suckers we are, we agreed to become a “host family,” taking in a couple of young lads from the UK who are in the States coaching camp-to-camp, week-to-week, across the country for the next few months.
Sean was from South London. When I told him my phone number, which starts 213, he repeated “two one free.” “Three,” I corrected, and “free” he confirmed. I didn’t find out until later that this is how they talk in South London…like our founding fathers wrote, if our founding fathers also had neat little phrases like “without a shadow” or called everything “lovely.” A young blonde bloke with a gallery of pop-punk tattoos across his body, Sean’s Breakfast of Champions this morning was a Sprite, a Red Bull, and a bag of Doritos. Nacho Cheese Doritos, which he found a little odd…for as he munched on them later he explained to my kids, back in England they taste like actual cheese. My boys were shocked by this. “They’re called Nacho Cheese for a reason.” For all of you bemoaning the London football games (there are two of them this year?!), they seem to have worked on Sean, who loves American Football and football turns out to be another language we have in common. If he had one somewhat major fault as a guest, it’s that he brought an Anquan Boldin Ravens jersey into my home.
Lee was from Newcastle, which is way up near the top of England. He didn’t think that the Newcastle Brown Ale sold here matched the one back home (too “sweet and fizzy”), but then again he also let us in on the secret that it’s not even brewed in Newcastle anymore, but Yorkshire. He liked his “red sauce,” which is ketchup. He put it on everything…like salami sandwiches and pizza. When he got a nice American bacon cheeseburger from the brewpub we like (a “proper American pub” they were thrilled to note), he did put the ketchup on his fries…just before smashing his fries onto the burger itself. Sean called it some kind of “Norman” thing. It was like living history! They didn’t much care for my kind of red sauce, Tapatio and Sriracha, but I was intrigued by the vinegary onion “brown sauce” they raved about back home.
These guys have more in common with my kids than me, and they got right to playing FIFA as soon as they arrived. Lee took Newcastle United, naturally, so Sean took Sunderland, just because they’re their arch rivals… So there’s a little more Premier League education (when I remembered that Sunderland is where Jozy Altidore is going this year, they both seemed to think that was a great signing…and how many American soccer players get that said about them by English lads?) My kid took Barca like he always does, and the English teams struggled against him to the point of exasperation. “Messi,” Sean bemoaned incredulously, “scored with his head? No never.”
Carly was from one of the islands north of Scotland. A fit, strong, lovely girl with a big head of hair, she was like a blonde Merida from Brave…though that Scottish brogue could be as thick as a plate full of haggis. “Wha ye gogoah anigh?” she asked me last night, and while I’m well practiced in the art of smiling and nodding when I have no idea what’s being said, even adding an appropriate chuckle now and then when the timing’s right, this time my face just kind of froze and I glanced at Sean for some help. He looked back amused and sympathetic and said “even I have no idea what she just said.” (For the record, it was “What do you have going tonight?”).
They took off this morning, Lee’s tour of the States cut short when he was called back to play for a team in the Scottish Leagues, so he’s probably still en route while you read this. Carly’s next stop is down Newport, where her next exposure to the States will be with the Real House Wives of Orange County. Sean was the last to go, just over the hill to Burbank, picked up in a tiny rental clown car full of three other British kids and boxes of gear that they all had to Tetris themselves in around. Don’t know if we’ll see any of them again, but after plying them with good American beer and pizza all week, I’d like to think we set the host family bar pretty high.
Fake Sandy Alderson, tomorrow.