No one in my family is into spectator sport, so I wondered why we were subscribing to a special TV package and paying Dh300 to watch the World Cup.
"It's for our son. It will help him bond with his friends," said my wife, explaining that everyone in his class was into the soccer madness and he would feel left out if he didn't watch the games and wasn't able to talk about them later.
"Are you crazy? You want him to be glued to the TV for a whole month. It's bad enough that he is bonded to the laptop. Why can't he bond with his friends at their homes?" I asked.
Well, when the big day came, my wife and son missed the opening ceremony because they couldn't find the channel among the hundreds we have and thought etisalat had messed up.
I was mad because I didn't find out until afterwards that Shakira would be on stage.
They also nearly missed the first match, South Africa versus Mexico, but my wife decided to wait for someone to answer her call to the customer service phone line and found that the games were being beamed on channel 313 WC (WC being World Cup).
I missed the first game as I decided there were more important things in life, like driving down to Ajman for the weekend. But I kept in touch with the craziness on the radio.
"Did you know spectator sports were invented by the Romans?" I asked my son later, as my wife watched suspiciously, knowing from experience that such father-son bonding usually leads to outlandish revelations. "They threw people to the lions and watched them run," I said.
Before the Romans became lazy and hired slaves to play the brutal gladiator games for them, they used to kick around a ball as this helped in increasing coordination and physical fitness, I told him. "Dad!" said my son, humouring me, thinking that I usually make things up.
Team of choice
I finally watched a match, Algeria versus Slovenia, and rooted for Algeria because I had recently seen an award-winning Algerian movie in which the actress was like, wow. I am sure everyone has their own reasons for rooting for Argentina, Brazil, Spain or whatever. My son said England is his favourite team, but then he is biased — he studies in a British curriculum school.
I wondered what it would be like to watch a match at a watering hole in one of Dubai's districts. I found that I have to pay an entrance fee to one of my favourite places and I noticed with my keen observing eye that none of the football fans were athletic-looking.
These are the same guys who take off their shirts in the stadium and the camera has to quickly pan away to spare us the sight of hairy paunches.
But these fans sure have deep voices and whenever there was a lull in the game, someone at the front would let out a cry and then a sort of a war chant would emerge from everyone's throats.
There was also a continuous, curious buzzing sound coming from the TV, like the soundtrack from a Bollywood horror movie. Doctors say the huge tension at soccer matches is not good for weak hearts — seems it is not good for the ears, also.
I found out that spectator sports are a great way to bond with your partner. I could see the adoring looks a woman gave her partner every time he bawled out an obscenity at the TV screen.
Maybe I should try that at home, I thought to myself, to reintroduce some romance to our lives. But then I remembered that I am not allowed to swear at home because of our son.