If you see a clear-eyed, well-rested colleague at work, it can mean only one thing: he is no soccer fan. To look refreshed and clear-eyed when a great majority of the world’s workforce stumbles into office bleary-eyed, unrested and in either a foul mood or ecstatic is an insult to the world’s most popular sport.
Soccer is an undemanding mistress. All it asks for is undivided attention once every four years. You are allowed to ignore the leagues in Europe and South America, in Asia anywhere, but the World Cup is another matter. You ignore it at your own peril. Walk in with that irritatingly relaxed look, and you are out of the loop. Forget what your company’s bottom line is, or about world economy or even what the American President has tweeted recently about the size of his button. If you don’t know what Messi did or how England won, then you might as well be a silent visitor from another planet.
If you don’t like soccer but want that bleary-eyed look to be accepted by the crowd, I suggest you binge-watch everything from Veep to Line of Duty every night till the soccer final. And have a few phrases ready to throw at your colleagues when you get in to work.
For example: Did you see that? This is usually safe since the other person cannot be sure if you are talking about Ronaldo’s fabulous free kick or a bad decision by the referee or something someone in the stands was wearing. The genuine World Cup fan will now take over and you need not say anything for a long time.
Another safe bet is: Not a patch on Maradona. Your listener assumes you are speaking of Messi or Ronaldo or both and have an intelligent opinion on the matter. Your tone should not suggest you are speaking of Maradona walking around without a nicotine patch and you are upset by that.
The important thing is to sound authoritative for the duration of that one sentence. Even if you say “Without Suarez, Brazil have no chance…” say it confidently so your colleague is confused and asks, “You mean Neymar?” Now all you have to do is nod intelligently, thump him on the back, and ask about his adenoids, thus deftly changing the topic.
What if you run into another bleary-eyed colleague who got that way by watching Veep or Line of Duty himself? If he begins the conversation with Did you see that, then answer, “Not a patch on Louis-Dreyfus”. If he responds thinking you’ve named a French footballer, you know he is a fraud like you. If he talks about Veep, then you have found a soul mate.