I’ve been obsessing over whether or not post this pretty much since I finished the story. Eventually I came to the conclusion that I’ve been giving it too much thought, I like the story, I had fun writing it and after the stories I’ve written involving the two of them, one more won’t make any difference. I gave it to someone to read in real life and they found it hilarious, not just the story but the idea that adults collect football stickers let alone Joachim Löw. I have proof that they do, I do for one, though that’s of little relevance here since the person in question sometimes has trouble seeing me as a grown up which to be fair is an issue a lot of people have. It’s funny because sometimes this person in particular has the opposite problem, based on how I talk they sometimes forget just how young I am. Anyhow back to the stickers, I’ve traded with some definitely grown up people online and I read a fascinating article which proves that people of all ages collect football stickers. For the record, I don’t know if he does collect football stickers, nor do I really care. It was just a funny scenario that I pictured in my head and then turned into a story. But that person’s insistence that the notion of him doing so is absurd makes me really want to believe that he does.
They also expressed the view that collecting football stickers is a “hobby for nine year olds.” Well first off, thanks for the compliment, you think I have the social skills of a nine year old. Given my lack of ability in certain areas such as taking turns and waiting for other people to finish speaking and all the rest of it, you’ve probably put my social age higher than it is. Seriously, when someone says something like that you know for sure that they have never experienced the simple joys as a child of getting new packets of stickers, carefully but excitedly opening them, praying that you will get the ones you need, the excitement when you do and the fun that can be had from going to school with a stack of stickers thinking of the trades you will make that day. Ok, so I spent more time watching other people making trades than actually doing so myself, but still it’s a nice thing to think of.
Before the story, my stickers of the day:
Hansi thought he knew all of Jogi’s quirks by now, he was wrong about that. He had yet one more quirk to learn about. Coming into the living room and seeing Jogi sitting on the floor but unable to see what was in front of him from where he was standing, Hansi had assumed he was working. He knew that sometimes Jogi would like to sit on the floor of the living room with his notes and papers spread out in front of him, for some reason it helped him to think. Whenever he was stuck on something or unable to work something out he would do this and free from the stifling confines of his office he would invariably come up with a solution.
Watching over him from the door Hansi thought of all the times he had come across Jogi in the living room, asleep on the floor with his pen or a piece of paper still clutched in his hand. If it wasn’t for the papers strewn about the floor next to him Hansi would have liked to have lain down next to him, he knew better than that. Instead he would gently put a hand on Jogi’s shoulder to alert him to his presence and to wake him up. When Jogi got up from the floor, Hansi helping him up he would begin to start smoothing down and rearranging his hair. Unable to miss such an opportunity Hansi would raise his hand and help him, tidying up the mess that had been made of his usually perfect hair, trying his best to hide the grin would be creeping across his face. He knew he needed to hide his joy from Jogi, there were two things in the world that Jogi wouldn’t tolerate jokes about, his hair and scarves, not even from his sweet dear Hansi.
Coming up a little closer behind him it wasn’t work related papers that Hansi could see lain out on the floor in front of Jogi, but a sticker book, with a pile of stickers on either side of the book, another pile of neatly stacked sticker backs and an equally neat pile of sticker packets. Now Hansi was confused, this had to be one of the oddest of all of Jogi’s quirks and he had some pretty odd ones. This amused Hansi greatly, the serious, charming, dashing and very grown up Joachim Löw collected football stickers?
He thought of all the times that Jogi had taken himself off to his hotel room when they were travelling, how he had said that he needed to think. He probably really had been hard at work on those occasions but that’s not what Hansi was picturing. He was amusing himself picturing Jogi buying packs of stickers and carefully opening them, his feverish excitement reined in only by his need for perfection which meant that each pack had to be opened carefully and as perfectly as was possible. He thought of the look of despair that would appear on his face if he opened one in a way that wasn’t to his satisfaction.
Hansi stood where he was with a bemused expression on his face, as he stood there he imagined the look of concentration on Jogi’s face as he painstakingly lined up each sticker, well it was a perfect hobby for him that was for sure.
Coming up behind Jogi, Hansi decided to surprise him. As he came up behind him he nestled his face into Jogi’s hair, kissing it as he moved down towards his neck whilst his hand wandered down to the top of Jogi’s shirt where he knew he would find the three top buttons undone. Jogi so focused in what he was doing did not respond at first, it was only when Hansi began to unbutton the next button and move his hand down into his shirt did he seemingly become aware of Hansi’s presence. Then Hansi heard the words he never thought he would hear:
“Not now Hansi, I’m in the middle of something.”
“Something important Jogi?” asked Hansi, unable to stifle a laugh as he replied.
Jogi now fully aware of Hansi’s presence turned around and this only made Hansi laugh all the more. Despite the hurt look on Jogi’s face Hansi was unable to stop himself from laughing. Unable to keep the hurt out of his voice a by now angry Jogi asked “What is it Hansi, why are you laughing like that?”
Hansi tried and failed to stop laughing so that he could explain, but no matter what he did the words wouldn’t come out. In between laughs he tried to speak and eventually giving up he moved his hand up to his forehead to where his non-existent fringe was, gesturing to Jogi what was making him laugh so.
Jogi in his anger and hurt failed to pick up on the message, however when his hand went up to his fringe, as he was prone to do when he was angry, frustrated or feeling nothing in particular at all but just doing what he usually did, there he found what had made Hansi laugh. Without noticing when he had registered Hansi’s presence behind him, he must have done the same thing then, forgetting that he had a sticker still in his hand and now said sticker was attached to his fringe. Hansi moved in front of him, daring despite the furious look on Jogi’s face to get close to him.
“Jogi I’m sorry, I really am” he said as he gently removed the sticker from Jogi’s fringe.
Jogi eyeing Hansi warily still said nothing; clearly Hansi was going to have to make much more of an effort to convince him of the sincerity of his apology.
“I didn’t mean to laugh at you, really I didn’t, it’s just that I didn’t expect to come in here and find you with football stickers. I just didn’t expect that at all. Though come to think of it, it is a perfect hobby for you” continued Hansi.
“And why is that Hansi?” asked Jogi.
“You’re such a perfectionist, all the fun you’d have lining up all those stickers. I bet there’s no-one in the world better at it than you.”
Unable to resist the compliment as Hansi predicted Jogi began to look a little less angry at him. He gestured for Hansi to come sit on the floor next to him, Hansi thinking all was forgiven eagerly joined him on the floor and without asking picked up a stack of stickers and began looking through them. Jogi may have forgiven him for laughing at him but no-one was going to rifle through his stickers, not without permission, not even Hansi.
“Hans-Dieter, what are you doing, did I say you could touch those?” snapped an anxious sounding Jogi as he grabbed the stickers out of Hansi’s hand and immediately began looking through them, checking that they were all in order.
“No but I thought you were inviting me to help” answered Hansi in a bemused tone of voice.
“You can help, maybe, but you can’t go messing up my system Hansi.”
“A system, you have a system? Jogi, they’re football stickers, you’re not making plans for a tournament here.”
Now Hansi was in trouble and he knew it, he quickly tried to fix what he had just said.
“That’s not what I meant, I’m sorry, you’re right, this is important to you, tell me what to do my sticker-lord” continued Hansi, hoping that with his reference to one of Jogi’s favourite pet names for him that he would be able to win him over with humour.
“Ok, elf-lord, just stay away from the stickers for now and do not mess up the order of the doubles pile.”
“You have the doubles in order, but why? You don’t need them anymore.”
“Does that mean they shouldn’t be put in order?”
“Ok, in order they go, will you allow me the honour of doing that?”
“I will my dear elf-lord and if you do a good enough job, maybe I’ll let you open some new packets.”
The disagreement resolved, Hansi moved closer to Jogi, if he was going to spend part of his afternoon sorting stickers, he was definitely going to get something from the arrangement. Getting comfortable on the floor he stretched out, careful to avoid the stickers and the book and lazily rested his head on Jogi’s legs. Not objecting to Hansi’s presence there, the next time Jogi’s hand went up to his fringe, on the way back down he rested his hand on Hansi’s head and ran his fingers absentmindedly over Hansi’s hair.
Hansi knew he was forgiven when Jogi did that, as long as he abided by the sticker rules he would continue to find himself in Jogi’s good books. Hansi had his own game to play here so he did everything Jogi asked in relation to the stickers, even putting the sticker backs in order when he asked, a request he found ridiculous and which almost caused him to lose his composure. But keep it he did because from where he was sitting Hansi was in the most perfect place, with Jogi so focused on the task at hand he had not noticed that button by button, Hansi was unbuttoning his shirt. When he was finished with the buttons, Hansi sat there enjoying the view, his head still resting on Jogi’s legs. He was just waiting for the right moment, for Jogi to be done with the last sticker, for the moment when he could reach up with one of his hands and bring Jogi’s attention to what he had done and to what his intentions were.