It started in the summer of 1982 but of course we don’t have summers so it was a sultry, melancholic season of rains, sex and mosquitoes much like this one. Platini was on form and had just scored a delirious 26th minute equalizing penalty kick in one of the most dramatic ever World Cup semi- final matches against the then West Germany in Spain. In Lagos, l jumped in joy and ran out of the six by eight attachment my father had built to my late mother’s provision shop in consideration of his only female child. We had been thrown out of yet another face-me-I-face you apartment by a greedy landlord so my father moved us back into my mum’s store which, with my mum now dead and my half sisters taken by her family meant five people in the room instead of nine in the shop. With the new attachment we were in comparative luxury as we now had a room and shop/parlour, a point I gleefully elaborated to Nureni the muscular teenage cripple next door who oscillated between tormenting and protecting me. My adult mind recognizes that he must have been smitten by me but my young mind was confused by his endless taunts and curses and equally endless play. I was fascinated by his body from the waist up and watched in admiration as he dragged himself dextrously around the compound. I didn’t like him when he wore his prosthetic legs or crutches, usually to go to school; he always seemed more vulnerable and sad. I sensed it was because on his artificial legs he was half the man he was on his powerful athletic upper body. He was my first crush.
I would watch him get onto the special needs school bus whilst I walked the 2-kilometre labyrinth of streets to school. Poverty in Nigeria in the ’70s and early ’80s was more genteel and did not preclude good quality education thanks to Awolowo and Jakande.
When Platini scored in 1982 and l ran out in joy, l did not see Nureni by the door so I tripped, fell on his powerful chest, became scared and confused then picked myself up and ran back into our attachment room where my father severely scolded me and ordered me to change. It had been drizzling and I must have torn the thin chemise I was wearing so my bony 10 year old frame and scrawny buttocks were in full view.
Shamefacedly, I changed and sat down with my dad and three brothers to watch France lose to West Germany in a penalty shoot out. I was unaware that this was the beginning of a lifelong fascination with sports, sex, summer and rains as well as the beginning of the sort of sexual repression that ensures I never fully express my genetic obligation to achieve the sexual nirvana: a tryst with an elite athlete during a global sports tournament such as the World Cup.
From Carl Lewis to Usain Bolt, John McEnroe to Roger Federer, Michel Platini to Cristiano Ronaldo, Jurgen Klinsmann to Jose Mourinho (delicious coaches count too). I have had visions of an Almodovar treatment sex el flagranto. Male friends, mostly geeks, dorks and such point out rather snidely that l am in a multitude of millions as though this is a deterrent.
Full-blooded unrepressed females that cast eyes on young male bodies in full physical perfection and performance set in a giddy global theatre of human drama on a scale the ancient Romans could never have dreamed up can only respond to the primal call to mate with the best, fastest and fittest.
This is why I cannot understand all the hysteria around athletes cheating on their wives. Athletes in their prime should never marry or at least have the good sense to marry a sensible woman that will stay conveniently unaware in exchange for comfort, designer gear, fame and the pure hatred of other females. Athletes should marry when they begin to look like Maradona. Women of higher needs must restrict themselves to the one great exploit and never return to the scene of the crime for elite athletes, (not all, but many) are not the most evolved male specimens.
So from France to USA, Australia to Greece, l have followed generations of footballers and athletes, gawking at the bodies, mesmerised by the talent and totally immersed in the sensory overload of emotion, culture, drama, tastes and textures of the World Cup and indeed the Olympic Games.
In the year of Africa or shall I say South Africa I will be making a world cup pilgrimage to Durban, one of the few cities I haven’t been to and one of the warmest this time of the year in the beautiful yet complex country.
In the absence of a sultry summer (fans, male and female in various states of undress, warm street parties, warmer nights at the clubs) or sensuous tropical rains (all the foregoing plus the occasional downpour to cool all down indoors, satiated, listening to the music of the rains) will the combination of the beautiful game, gastronomy of all senses and male bodies in perfect agility deliver a once-in-a-lifetime tournament and a chance to find sexual nirvana?
Let’s wait and see.