It was meant to be, I guess.
Being guided by a higher power, the Soccer God, referred to as the Football God by parts of the world other than the United States who don't recognize that if God wanted everyone to worship her as the patron saint of football, she wouldn't have created the genuine sport of football in my country.
Anyway, I must be viewed with special favor by the Soccer God, since just before turning our television off last night after watching the 11 pm news from Portland, a thought burst unbidden into my mind: "Thou shalt record the World Cup final match between Argentina and France."
Well, actually there was no thou shalt in that thought. But my tale sounds more impressive with those words substituted for "Hey, dude..."
Earlier in the day I'd considered recording the match. But since it was going to start at 7 am Pacific time, and I don't get up anywhere close to that early in my retired life, I figured that by the time I watched the recording, I would have known the outcome.
Plus -- and forgive me, Soccer God, for I have sinned against you -- I've never been all that interested in soccer. I described my viewing approach back in 2010 in "My tips for watching World Cup soccer."
(1) Record the event.
(2) Press "Play."
(3) Then -- this is really important, because life is short and you don't want to waste it on meaningless stuff -- immediately press the fast forward button repeatedly until it is at the fastest speed where the score being shown is still readable.
(4) Wait a while until you see the score has changed. Could be a long while, even at fast forwarding speed.
(5) Press "Play."
(6) Rewind/go back to fifteen seconds or so before the goal was scored.
(7) Watch the goal. Say "Nice, "Cool," "Crappy goalkeeping," or whatever else pops into your head.
(8) Repeat 3 through 7 until the game is over.
(9) Turn the TV off, content that you've watched hockey or soccer in the most efficient and enjoyable fashion if you're part of the 99% of humanity (in the United States, at least) who couldn't care less about the sport but sometimes want to act like they do, sort of.
Today, though, I woke up around 7:30 am to go the bathroom and, as suspected, noted a news alert on my iPhone that Argentina was leading France 2-0. That's like 63-0 in football terms.
So when I woke up again after getting back to sleep and saw that France had scored two goals near the end of regulation and the match was going to extra time, I rushed to turn the television on and, for maybe the first time in my life, watch a soccer match live.
OK, part of a soccer match. But this was a major conversion for me. By no means had I joined the Soccer Religion that so many people in the world worship, but I'd taken a small step toward being baptized into it.
A revered holy man, Argentina's Lionel Messi, was a main reason why. I'd seen highlight videos of some amazing Messi performances in previous World Cup matches, and read laudatory news stories about him.
Messi does seem to have a magical way about him. He makes moving with the ball (assume that isn't called dribbling, but I don't know the correct term) look so smooth and easy. Yet he leaves defenders clutching at where he isn't, not where he is.
Not quite walking on water miracle stuff.
Close enough for me to become a worshipful fan, though, given my almost complete lack of experience with anything involving a soccer ball. I also liked the fact that reportedly Messi walks much of the time during a match, running only when necessary. And that while walking around he's visualizing where the defenders might be at some point, and how he'd respond if they ended up there.
That struck me as pleasingly meditative. Or at least mindful.
Anyway, the end of the Argentina-France match was a delight to watch. Really exciting, with each team scoring a goal in the extra time to keep the match a 3-3 tie. That meant the outcome would be determined by penalty kicks.
I enjoy penalty kicks, though I'm largely clueless about the strategy used by the goalkeeper and the kicker. Each player apparently tries to guess, or surmise, what the other will do.
Which gets complicated when a player thinks things like, "The goalkeeper probably thinks that I'll kick the ball in a different location than I did last time, so I should kick the ball in the same way, except maybe the goalkeeper thinks that I'll think he's thinking that, so I should kick the ball in a different location."
Watching Messi take the first penalty kick for Argentina, he made it look much easier than it must be. But that's the magic of Messi. He's like a Zen master of soccer. You don't really know how he plays so effortlessly with such great results.
You just marvel at his blessed soccer skill. Along with the entire country of Argentina, and countless other fans around the world, since Argentina kicked France's ass in the penalty kicks, to use an American expression, giving Messi his first World Cup title.
Fitting, since I believe this was his last World Cup.