We're talking, of course, about the vuvuzela — that ever-present, mildly annoying plastic horn that makes every World Cup match sound as if it's being played inside a bee hive. In South Africa, they're everywhere. In Missoula? Not so much.
First, we handed $10 to our new intern, Cameron Rasmusson, and asked him to do some good, old-fashioned, boots on the ground investigating and find a horn. (He does other work, honest.) After three hours he came back empty handed with this report:
Many sports fans might just die happy if they never saw another vuvuzela again. Yesterday, I experienced the opposite problem. My mission was to purchase a vuvuzela in Missoula—a simple enough goal with no clear means of accomplishing it.
Local wisdom suggests that when in doubt, start at Rockin Rudy’s. In this case, I did just that.
I rummaged with vigor at Rockin Rudy's. While the store by no means suffers a shortage of novelty items, they apparently shy away from tools of acoustic torture (insert your own snarky rejoinder against Nickleback or some other widely hated band here). A quick interrogation of the workers confirmed that I was out of luck and redirected me downtown.
Nothing. My constant inquiries about vuvuzelas yielded many blank stares, a few pronunciation corrections and no leads.
I hadn’t wanted to stoop to Craig’s List, but my own intuition had clearly proven impotent. A quick search pulled a single ad boasting, “We have one of the hottest items.” In the words of Hans Landa, that’s a bingo. I called the provided number.
It was disconnected.
Discouraged, I called Party America as a final effort. “Oh yeah, I think we have those,” the employee told me. And sweet, sweet hope, it returned.
I arrived at Party America to the tail end of a grim line. At the front, two middle-aged women were buying supplies in a bulk that suggested family reunion season at the polygamist commune. I waited for maybe a half-hour before my turn arrived. Approaching the till, I identified myself as the vuvuzela-seeker.
“Is this what you’re looking for?” the employee asked.
She presented to me a standard air horn. My vuvuzela ambitions crumbled irreparably.
I returned a disappointed man. But then, disappointment and the World Cup go hand-in-hand. English goalkeeper Robert Greene is disappointed that light and hope have decisively vacated his career. Americans are disappointed that a referee gaffe likely stole away a victory. For that matter, World Cup fans are disappointed that they have to appreciate the Mecca of soccer over such a din.
Maybe Missoula is better off without vuvuzelas after all.
But we weren't done. Someone had seen a mention of vuvuzelas on the Missoula Osprey Facebook page (home opener tonight, by the way), and we logged on to find a mention of the horn from a guy named Don Iarussi. A quick search through Don's facebook "Wall" showed he was selling vuvuzelas on eBay and right here in town. We pinged him on Facebook, and today met him in a gas station parking lot to make the deal.
Don says his vuvuzelas are authentic, and not the knock-offs being sold in New York City. He sold us ours for $7.99 (we let him keep the penny), but he says eBay bids have reached as high as $20. That said, they're a pain to ship and he prefers to sell them locally. So, if you want to annoy your co-workers and get into the spirit of the World Cup, feel free to contact Don at don (at) catlover.com, or call 241-8303. He says he can get as many as you need.