Calling up an ex- who plays football and roots for Italy to get dope on ‘soccer sluts’ or SS (remember, you first heard the term here) is probably not a great idea. But assuming you benefit from a transcript of the conversation, I think it’s a noble, selfless idea to share it with you.
3 pm on a weekday. I dial.
Me: Hey, hi, what’s happening? Listen, do you know any soccer sluts?
He: Who? Hi... Whaaat? Slut? Where?
Me: Not slut-slut, fool! Soccer slut, you know, the kind you hang with. What you play, you know? Football! Football sluts!
He: Good lord, woman! Stop trying to be Shobhaa De. This why you called?!
Yes. And here, I launched into a description of candidates I was looking for.
Me: Don’t you remember? Last World Cup, Defence Colony parking lot, hot little clueless chicks, chugging beer, stumbling out of 4S, hooting for the winning team, trying to get guys to notice them. You know any?
The bait is bit.
He: Aah, the straight hair and skinny jeans… No, I don’t know any, but if you find some, give them my number.
Next person tapped for my Pulitzer-winnable story: an amateur footballer who plays on weekends. This one says “I’ll find ‘these types’”, (not daring to say SS aloud lest mammi’s closeby) at farmhouses interspersed with the embassy crowd. I’m invited this Saturday to come and see ‘these types’ — with their toned muscles, sitting on the edge of big square lawns (that double up as a football field) rooting for sweaty players in local 5-a-side teams. Beer flows. Whistles and cat calls are ambient noise. Once the local match is over, the big screen TV comes on and the real games begin.
Supriya Bhakt, 26, is a lawyer with a throaty laugh that she lets me hear when I run by her the term I plan to trademark and grow rich on. She gives me the term ‘soccer skank’ in return. Fact in a pun: Bhakt is an Arsenal devotee. On Facebook, she has a photo of shirtless men standing in a locker room posing for a Dolce and Gabbana underwear campaign — the Italian football team a.k.a. Beautiful Men.
Bhakt’s been into football — playing it too — since school. When she lived in London, she’d go see a game a month, and only sometimes pick a fight in a pub over some match result. If today a match starts at midnight, she'll stay up for it and might call in sick at work tomorrow.
When I talk about the SS, she insists that “they’re everywhere”. There are more of them in the last 3-4 years than they used to be. Girls who want to learn about football to impress the boys and, um, take it from there. Bhakt has been asked at parties, by 20-year-olds, questions about football. What’s a penalty shoot-out? Who are the guys in green? Of course, not all women who love the game have a drool-agenda. Some are less inquisitive, just more adulatory. Like this young thing who told Supriya, “Dude, you’re so hot, and you watch football.”
I tread thin ice and ask her, very very casually, so are you a soccer slut? Aah, there’s that throaty laugh again. Till next season — when we talk about hockey hores.
Nivriti Butalia is supporting Argentina this World Cup and wants to make a 1-2-1 pass at Lionel Messi