D said that tickets to the match between the two major football teams in Argentina, River Plate and Boca Juniors, cost about about 150% more on English-language sites than the ones he’d seen advertised in Spanish-language ads on Instagram. He insisted we go to hawkers. But first we would go to Rapipago to see if they were selling any tickets. Before we got out of bed, D made me watch a YouTube documentary about the rivalry between these teams, the most famous in soccer-obsessed Argentina—the biggest derby ever, D says. We would be able to see Boca Juniors play a different club, Rosario Central, that night.
The streets flowed with the blue and yellow team colors, throngs of people walking around in Boca jerseys and driving in on loaded, honking buses. At Rapipago, some of the fans showed their phones to a cashier who printed out their shiny tickets. When it was our turn, she told us tickets were sold out. A guy behind us overheard and told us he had extra tickets in the section behind the goal posts, where people stood the whole game and shot off flares. D made the arrangements; in a bit, we’d receive a text with the address to pick up the tickets.
We waited at a nearby coffee shop and had espressos with tiny alfajores. I read Amy Tan’s memoir on my phone until the guy messaged us back and offered us the tickets for $30 USD each.
We met him in a booth at a nearby restaurant, and he gave us the two tickets. Outside, D told me that this whole thing was too easy. Next door there was a store with knock-off jerseys, and we went in to buy him a Boca jersey. D put it on immediately, and when we passed by a random high schooler, he whispered “Vamos River” to my boyfriend and that made us giggle with excitement.
We shopped for a while and came across a place selling Boca jerseys with neon green and blue zig-zag stripes. D thought they were cool so I decided to try one on. I looked good in it and it was way cooler than his. I could tell he was a little envious of my jersey so I decided to buy it.
On our way back to our apartment D stopped at a barber’s to get a beard trim and haircut. While he was trimming D’s beard, the barber mentioned he had a secret and then used a little eyebrow pencil to fill out the sparse parts of D’s beard. D asked the barber which team he liked, and the barber showed him the River logo tattooed on his neck. Nothing contentious happened, though, and D thought it was one of the best haircuts he had ever had.
We had lunch on the patio and watched all the fans go by. We bought cans of Dr. Lemon, a vodka fizzy drink, so we could nap and then drink and then go. In bed we looked up lyrics to some of the Boca fan songs so we could try to sing along.
After napping we caught a taxi to the stadium. As we drove, huge crowds of fans began filling the streets. D asked the driver, a young man who dodged through the street lights, which team he supported. The driver showed us a wrinkly red River jersey that he had stuffed between the passenger seat. Then he quickly shoved it down again, telling us dramatically that if he showed this jersey in this crowd, he could get killed. Things had happened before at rivalry games in Buenos Aires, flags were burned, people stampeded. We couldn’t tell whether or not he was serious, though the crowds did seem to thicken and swell.
The stadium only had one women’s bathroom (and four men’s bathrooms) so I stood in line while D waited for me behind the stadium, dancing and jumping with a bunch of singing fans. We learned a standard dance, which is to gesture like you’re fake throwing things using the force of your forearm and then charging your fist forward and back like you’re pounding a wall with your fist.
A middle-school-aged kid with curly hair and chubby cheeks stood on the ledge in front of us, holding his dad’s shoulder to keep his balance. Both of them were singing proudly and throwing their fists. The vendor came by with cups of Coca-Cola and D bought one.
When the game started we realized that the opposing team also had blue and yellow as their team colors. So we weren’t really sure which fans we had been seeing on the streets. But Boca Juniors were doing well. We won, and the whole stands were rocking. D and I were jumping along with the elated crowd and yelling the only words we could suss out in the glory song. Later I found out that some of the lyrics were about the opposing team’s mothers’ pussies.
Even so, it was cute how the son and dad were jumping and chanting the songs together. I was a bit jealous too because my dad had passed away a year ago and he loved sports, but he was never able to get me into it. I think my mom liked soccer a lot. I texted her a photo of the stadium and a selfie of me in my Boca jersey.
When we got back D and I lay in bed, scrolling through some of the videos we took of the night. D slept in his new jersey and boxers.