June 13, 2010
David Beckham has an amazing face. It can do things most faces only dream of. But like any finely calibrated machine — a racehorse, say, or the Battlestar Galactica — it can run into disastrous problems when little things start to go wrong. For instance, when it's watching its beloved England team limp to a 1-1 draw against the underdog Americans. Herewith, a timeline of the breakdown, with field notes.
It all started so promisingly for David Beckham's face. His hair was combed into a regulation fauxmpadour, his cheeks were precisely withdrawn, and his FA-issued three-piece suit with hacking pockets and special bicolor England breast-patch neatly set off his Brand Beckham three-days' stubble. He was light on his feet. He was ready for anything his job as unofficial team ambassador with no designated coaching duties could throw at him. Dude could have been a wax statue of himself.
Here DB is joking with Rio Ferdinand. They're relaxed, just two injury-stricken ex-England captains telling tales and blissing on the times. They're happy. Rio's wind pants are ruffling gently in the light South African breeze. For one of these men, it's all about to go horribly, horribly wrong.
Dempsey shoots. Green loses the ball. No joy in Mudville. Beckham’s eyebrow strikes an invisible gong.
"You think you can hurt me, but you can't hurt me, but you have hurt me. This isn't possible. My … my minions will be arriving at any moment. Don't think this is over, Mr. Bond."
Existential despair arrives. The hard, lined face of a man who's spent countless hours riding fences and driving herds of cattle contemplates the arrival of civilization and the end of the true West. Beckham's stubble — only his stubble — looks drunk.
Total breakdown. Beckham's hair is like a line of twisted, agonized hands reaching up to the heavens, pleading for divine aid. His tie knot looks defeated. Long winter nights ahead, nights of privation and anguish, wondering how he'll keep the wolf from the door, how a man lives in this world, what Brooklyn and Romeo will eat.
The FIFA man has no answers.
The following photo of President Obama, which is making the rounds on the Internet and Twitter, is obviously Photoshopped. As you can see from the reflection on the table, it looks like he's actually watching Gilligan's Island. That doesn't make it any less fantastic.
Photos: AP, Getty Images, Reuters