BOGOTA, Colombia -- In honor of the World Cup, a time when humans congregate at sports bars, here's a tour of the various specimens found there. Studies were conducted in Austin and Bogota.
Chatterbox Guy. Chatterbox Guy combines a voice that carries with the complete inability to switch it off for any relieving period of time. You might hear him tell not only of his impending trip to Vegas, but also of the bloody flight connections he will make for that impending trip to Vegas. You'll consider navigating to the other side of the packed bar just to elude him, except you don't want to miss anything while wriggling through the masses. Perhaps worst of all, Chatterbox Guy can make you fear that in your own lifetime, you might have had a turn or two as Chatterbox Guy. One caveat: If Chatterbox Guy ends up being informative to the captive eavesdropper on a subject such as European soccer, this can lead to a melting of inner hostility and some forgiveness. You might even hope he enjoys his damn trip to Vegas.
Overreaction Guy. Overreaction Guy might see Croatia go up 1-0 on 11 minutes and start chiding fans in Brazilian shirts across the bar, rashly accusing them of riding a bandwagon when it's clear he has no idea if they have Brazilian heritage or Brazilian citizenship. (Maybe they once traveled to Brazil found it the most intoxicating place on Earth -- which it is -- and now wear the yellow shirt out of gratitude.) Overreaction Guy blurts out occasionally with surprising rancor. You'd have to sit down with Overreaction Guy to figure out why he blurts when he blurts…but you don't.
Female Human. In all my misspent time during a misspent life in sports bars, I recall female humans aplenty -- about 25 percent of the crowd in Austin for Brazil-Croatia -- but never even one annoying or outlandish one. Maybe the rest of you have stories. I don't.
Red Wine Guy. He's frigging bizarre. And that would be me. Bloody hell.
Unshowered Guy. You're more likely to see him in a place like Austin, which tends to be less snooty and more forgiving of the unshowered. In certain circumstances, Unshowered Guy may be tall, which extends the effects of his unshowered-ness. If you want to adopt a sunny attitude about Unshowered Guy, you might surmise that, as the bar is uncomfortably crowded, there's always a chance he'll clear out your area some -- especially when he raises his arms in triumph.
Tranquil Hunk With Big Biceps. Of all the beings in the sports-bar ecosystem, Tranquil Guy With Big Biceps would have to rank among the most reliable -- he's almost always there -- and rank atop the list of the most commendable. After all, he's quiet…with big biceps. Curiously, his friends tend to be, also.
Tambourine Person. You have to commend Tambourine Person. After all, Tambourine Person did some thinking before leaving his or her place of residence and decided that simply being a person wasn't enough; bringing a musical instrument would add some flavor. There's a pretty fair chance Tambourine Person is Brazilian. Tambourine Person evokes gratitude because he or she not only thought to bring a merry prop, but elected not to bring a trumpet.
Pithy Guy. I have an abiding appreciation for Pithy Guy. He can stand there, against the wall, for the entire game. And just when you've forgotten he's there, something outrageous happens -- such as a Brazilian player diving dramatically because a Croatian player touched his shoulder -- and he suddenly must emote and speak. What emerges can be strong, deeply philosophical stuff. One recent study indicated that he might blare, "There is no god! There is no god!"
Loud Guy. I strain to remember a time when he did not show up. Mercifully, Loud Guy tends to have less endurance than Chatterbox Guy.
Nice Guy. This would be an unscientific study, but I've noticed that Nice Guy often wears a button-down shirt, often with white and blue vertical stripes. I loathe those shirts, but I love Nice Guy. The outcome of the game does not seem to perturb Nice Guy, for he possesses no venom. He likes sports, sure, but he would never watch from his living room and turn a trinket on the coffee table into a projectile. You get the feeling he comes from a functional family that actually enjoys each other's company without arguing over recent Fox News stories. He often ends up talking to a woman -- and without an ounce of desperation or drool. Maybe this woman will choose Nice Guy. That would be nice. Nice Guy might lack the Big Biceps of Tranquil Hunk, but maybe he embodies that wise old saying that makes participles dangle so nicely -- the one about how men fall in love with the women they're attracted to, while women grow attracted to the men they fall in love with.
Clueless Spectator. It would take a real snoot to look down upon Clueless Spectator, even if, while watching United States-Ghana at a bar in Bogota, Clueless Spectator did shriek with mirth at Clint Dempsey's goal for the United States, failing to realize that he or she was watching a replay during halftime. For a moment, they thought it was 2-0. While that can be as grating as a prison chamber with speakers playing only Justin Bieber, part of trying to be a good citizen of the Earth is extending silent understanding toward Clueless Spactator. We are all clueless about something.
Patient Mentor. He or she sometimes arrives with Clueless Spectator, whereupon Patient Mentor benignly sprinkles the match with what limited amount he or she knows, all while realizing that Clueless Spectator has only come because the United States was playing, meaning that his or her biggest cheer will be for the camera shot of Joe Biden.
Knowledge Guy/Girl. We shouldn't confuse this person (it's usually Knowledge Guy) with Chatterbox Guy, even if sometimes they're one and the same. Knowledge Guy deserves patience. In the early minutes, Knowledge Guy might seem a burden, and you might even wish Unshowered Guy would repel him. But get over yourself and listen patiently, because Knowledge Guy can add actual knowledge. And as he does, he tends to calm from the early exuberance and offer the best thing you can get from the experience other than beer or red wine or new friendship: calm knowledge. In the right setting, Knowledge Guy can be particularly helpful with soccer and its global, unmanageable sprawl.
Commentator. At heart, he'd like to be in the booth broadcasting the game. In reality, he's nowhere near good enough for that.
Drunk Guy. At some point, he begins to care less about the match at hand and more about the woman at the bar who is, in fairness, beautiful. By the second half, he's begun a familiarly blurry flirtation. Hunters will hunt.