Love and Terrorism at the FIFA World Cup

pigeonsA group of Iranian soccer fans shouting “olayolayolay” at 9:00 am is not my alarm clock of choice. The FIFA World Cup has come to St. Petersburg.

Y and I head for the Fan Center. At the gates they confiscate a spoon from Y’s purse before letting us in. We stop for a drink at one of the stands. Y buys a cola.

“Can I have the top?” she asks.

The man behind the counter shakes his head.

“What? Why not?”


We continue on through the crowd. There are hippopotami walking two-by-two all around the blue and red barriers hiding the fans from the streets. I don’t notice any little yellow birdies. It is loud that it is obnoxious. The type of obnoxious-loud where instead of saying “fuck—it’s loud here!” you just end up looking around and saying, “seriously?”

Y tugs at my arm, saying something. “WHAT?!” I ask.

“I said, fuck—it’s loud here!”

I look around, “seriously.”

A group of Iranians pass to our left, “olayolayolay,” they tell us. To our right, a camera appears; a flat fat black one with a lens so big I can see my whole face. It is a damn big camera too, it rests on the shoulder of a troll. He circles us.

Out of nowhere, a massive dove falls out of the sky. She stands, she is almost as tall as Y. Her eyes are big and black, and she squawks as she shoves a microphone at Y’s nose. It is stark-white but stinks beneath a perfume-mask. Doves are just gentrified pigeons at the end of the day.

She starts speaking Russian very fast. She is holding a microphone with a purple smooshie thing on the end. I can’t catch her tone over the noise. The dove keeps pecking at Y, her head is snapping side to side and the camera won’t stop showing me my own red and fat face. It is a hot day.

“No, thank you,” Y tells the dove.

The dove’s left-wing twitches, one of the black eyes gets wet and she starts asking Y questions.

“How long?” the dove asks, in Russian.

Y frowns at her, “one year.”

The dove laughs, “It is time!”

“No,” Y says.

I look at Y, “what the fuck is going on?”

“Just trust me, I’m saving you,” she tells me.

The dove moves closer, pecks a bit more rudely, “come on,” it says, in Russian. “Come on, come on, come on.” Then it squawks, over and over

Dvai, dvai,dvai!

Y grabs my hand and leads me away. The dove calls after her, the camera follows us.

“What did she want?”

We crash through a pile of drunk Iranians, make it closer to the exit.

“She was trying to marry us!”


“She was saying, to marry us. They have paperwork and a place, and they want to film us getting married.”

“What?! How?”

Y moves faster, a bit ahead of me, “she wouldn’t stop, she kept saying that we need to marry and that we are old enough and they can do it, that they have a lawyer and everything, it was so weird, she wouldn’t stop!”


Y nods. A shadow passes over her face. We look up. The dove has taken flight. It circles overhead.


“Seriously?” I ask.

Y takes her now empty coke bottle and throws it up at the dove, but it is so light that the wind blows it easily back down. It falls in the dirt at our feet.

Y kicks it, hard. “Fucking terrorists,” she says.

She grabs my arm and we head for the exit.




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