A while back I met Victor´s grandkid Valentino. Big Tino is 5. Kid is a crack-up. I had just finished jumping rope and was sweeping my room when they got home. I had my tunes blaring on my 1¨ mega blaster speakers and homeboy was just gawking from the door. I introduced myself and Victor told him that I spoke English. I was making some breakfast, oats and milk, and as I was doing this Valentino was chatting me up. It was hilarious, he would ask me how to say dad in English, I´d tell him and ask him to repeat it back to me, and he´d just look at me for a couple of secs and then continue talking as if I never asked him anything at all. I saw his mind at work, and it was on to the next word he wanted me to translate. Sometimes he would say, yeah, my teacher taught me that word in English class, or yeah, I already knew that one.....and every time I asked him to repeat a word he gave me that crazy stare into nothingness, pause, and then start rambling about god knows what. Something about some guy with 4 arms, i thought dr. octopus, but who knows with kids nowadays, all the garbage they watch on tv, i was lost, but the beauty of kids is that you just smile and nod. you really don´t need to say anything intelligible, they are just happy to have someone notice them.
After the small talk, Valentino showed me his true Argentine colors and he instinctively changed the topic to soccer. He told me he was a fan of Independiente and asked which was my team. I said Newells and he didn´t understand, but it didn´t matter because I had a surprise for him....
A couple of weeks earlier I went to a costume party as Duffman.....Ooooooohhhhhhhh Yeeeaaaahhhhhhh.....looked pretty fly if you ask me. White knee socks, red shorts, turquoise belt, blue tank top, a handwritten Duff sign on paper pinned to my shirt and to my red hat. All I was missing was the cape and beer studded belt. The costume party was at a bar, here it is normal to reserve a bar for a bday party or some type of special event.....so I showed up with a couple of buddies and was expecting to see the entire bar filled with peeps in costumes. Turns out only a section of the bar was reserved for the party, and there were two dudes dressed as french maids, one flogger which is maybe a hipster of south america, a pirate, zorro, belly dancers, and Duffman......OOOOOOOOOOhhhhhhhhhhhhh Yeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!!! The majority however were random peeps, trying to get faded in a bar. Surprising how it is always a little awkward being one of the few in costume....imagine how I felt on the bus ride over! For the record, Duffman´s powers were impervious to the sinister forces of the bartenders.....After running out of money, I went to the bartender and said, ¨Do you know who I am?¨No- well I´m El Hombre Duff an and I could really go for a cold, frosty, wonderful Duff right about now Ooooooooooooooh Yeeeaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh but the dude wanted to charge me and didn´t think it was cool that Duff Man got to drink on the house. WEAK!
But back to the story at hand, the hat I bought for Duffman just happened to be an Independiente hat, and due to the fact that I was never going to use it again, and because it was HIS team, I thought Tino might like it. He did, and like a true gentleman he walked into his grandpa´s room and pulled out his prized possession....a 2yr olds faded yellow spongebob hat in return. What could I do besides accept such a generous offer??? I was quick to say no backsys too, so he better not come crying back to me when he realizes what he´s done because he will surely be disappointed. I don´t care how young you are, rules are rules. I stamped it, and touched blue to make it true. He tried to triple stamp my double stamp, but EVERYONE knows you can´t triple stamp a double stamp.
Next, Valentino dives into an extremely detailed account of a recent soccer match he was ¨sneaking¨at his house. Apparently Mom thought someone was sleeping....he had both hats on either hand and would mumble more gibberish and then would crash them together with a fantastic yell GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLAZOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.......more gibberish......crash........yell.......GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLAAAAAAAAAZZZOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. He told me the history behind the passion, how soccer was brought to Argentina by railroad working Englishmen, how he didn´t like how the game has evolved into a ¨hollywood¨style of play, too much emphasis on the theatrics instead of team unity and solid defense. He told me how his grandpa was a fan, how his dad was a fan, and those influences helped mold and define his feelings for Independiente as not only a soccer club, but as a true love.
He got so worked up over things that he was ready to show me a couple of moves he´d been working on and lucky me the ball was locked in the car, it was raining, and Victor didn´t want to go downstairs to get it. Another day....probably better for Valentino and his confidence, because I would have wiped the floor with his small, weak, childish, 5 yr old frame. He probably wouldn´t even score a goal on me. If the day comes, we´ll see what kind of morals this kids got, does he rise to the occasion like Independiente ¨does¨, or does he get folded like oragami. Regardless, a game for the ages no doubt.
After kicking it for roughly two hours, introductions came and went, food had been prepared, eaten, (i offered him a carrot which he surprisingly accepted.....he conned me into ¨making it like his mom does¨ which means peeling it...but the kid ate the whole thing!) dishes washed, room cleaned, I told the little tike that I had to run some errands, but that I´d see him later. We parted with a vicious session of high fives......he kept saying harder and laughing.....so I kept taking it up a notch..... level 14 was where I found his breaking point.....apparently 5yr old boys and 25yr old MEN have different thresholds of pain.....i easily withstood his levels 10-13 and probably could have lasted up to 24 or 27......no big deal....and i thought he was tough.
All in all the kid was super cute and could literally talk to a wall. I saw Victor later that day and he thanked me for the hay saying that Valentino liked it. I told him the reason why I gave it to him and he burst into laughter. Apparently Victor had no idea Valentino liked soccer. Victor and Valentino´s dad don´t like soccer, never watch soccer, so it seems as if Tino´s immagination has had something to do with his fascination for Independiente. Poor kid is so soccer deprived his life force need to be energized and seek refuge to immaginationland to get his fix.....i told you Argentines will go to extremes for soccer.....this kid is 5, imagine how grown adults feel/and or act. I just hope the hat will one day make his dreams a reality.
ps....i didn´t take the spongebob hat because in all honesty it didn´t fit. I didn´t make him cry, even though we did end our hang out sesh with high fives. and if we ever play soccer I would let him score at least one goal, maybe two, but he definitely wouldn´t win....and that is something that i´ve never been more sure of