(Publisher’s Note: Voting on the 13th Annual Pajiba 10 will kick off next week. Ahead of the voting, various staff members will offer our personal favorites, for your consideration.)
Two years ago my Pajiba 10 pick was Logan Browning.
Last year it was Nazanin Boniadi.
They’ll both be on my Pajiba 10 this year for sure. They’re both great.
This year, I was thinking about picking someone other than an actress. An athlete, maybe? I love athletes.
We’ve been through a difficult time over the last few years, and because of that, I often find myself gravitating toward places or people that make me happy.
Libraries, for example.
I love libraries.
And as the known world has spun irreconcilably toward Gilead, I have endeavored to visit more libraries. To just pop into new ones and read a book.
Y’know, before the racists and theocrats burn them all.
Libraries are magic. The true heart of any city.
Likewise for friends. I’ve reached out to old ones and made more of an effort to hang out with new ones. There is nothing in this world I like more than laughter, and so it’s become more important to me, especially of late, to find that where it most often lives: in conversations with friends.
And so perhaps I was more ready than usual for Valentina Giacinti.
Maybe, because I’ve made it a point to notice beauty and seek out happiness and open myself to things that might offset the political sewer and national nightmare we’re living through, I was ready to see the human embodiment of joy.
That’s what I think of when I see Valentina Giacinti. Joy.
I’ve been covering the 2019 Women’s World Cup for several weeks and there are so many players I love. So many who are a thrill to watch.
But out of all of the teams and all of the players, something about Giacinti’s joy and passion jumped out to me and my family. She just seems to have that certain je ne sais quoi. And she can play soccer like nobody’s business.
I won’t pretend to know much about her. Her wikipedia page is a ghost land of non-information. She is not a UN Ambassador, not fighting for any cause that I can tell, and not a Fullbright Scholar. (That I know of, anyway.)
She is a soccer player. And though she has led Italy’s Serie A league in scoring for the last few years, she’s relatively new to the world stage. In fact, leading up to this World Cup, she spent most of the games for Team Italy coming in off of the bench as a substitute.
But this is the Pajiba 10. It doesn’t have to make sense. My dear friend Tori is trying to get us to fuck birds because humans can be so appaling. That is a gorgeous bird. Not gonna lie. I still probably wouldn’t throw on any Marvin Gaye while hanging out with it.
My archnemesis Petr Knava wisely pivoted from Socialism to Keanu Reeves this year, proving that people who floss with switchblades and have the same standing blood alcohol level as peak Axl Rose can still grow and mature.
No, I’m not going to pick an animal or the modern demigod of kindness that is Keanu Reeves. I’m going to keep it simple and pick the human personification of joy and passion. An Italian soccer player with all the talent in the world and one of the most radiant smiles you’ll ever see. And if you have a little wiggle room on your Pajiba 10 list, I hope you will, too.
Talented, beautiful, and she adores her dog.
Valentina Giacinti, everyone. Soak her in.
Image sources (in order of posting): Instagram, Fox Sports