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Stop This Madness!

Futbol Fever! Soccermania! Who said the World Cup can't catch on here?

Enough is enough. The soccer craze in this country has gone too far. Look at this place. We haven't sold a whole-life insurance policy this entire week. The office has gone absolutely berzerko over this World Cup thing. Or, as Darlene in accounting says, we're in a constant state of Cuproar.

Mostly, it's the office pool. I got roped into running it, and I haven't had a moment's peace since. Jennings in bookkeeping is about to drive me out of my beezer. He's got Morocco, which (I don't have to tell you) is led by midfielder Mustapha El Haddaoui. So every 14 minutes he sends me some annoying electronic message like. "Haddaoui stop these guys?"

We figured Withers over in receivables had pretty much put a cap on the Cuproariousness when he came to work with his teeth dyed green, red and yellow (Cameroon's colors, of course), but then we all came to work and noticed the water in the cooler was Netherlands orange, the work of Hackenfuss in benefits.

Plus, I've been besieged by people who think I have tickets. In fact, all I've got is two for Norway-Mexico, and I wish I hadn't told anybody. My boss gave me the Employee of the Month parking spot, and I don't think it's any coincidence that Kristin down the hall has been watering my plants without my even asking. Last year I had World Series tickets, and I couldn't give them away. Go figure.

And the talk-radio shows! You'd think just once they'd want to talk about the Stanley Cup or the NBA Finals or Ken Griffey Jr. or something, but nooooooo. Every day, Motormouth starts getting on the Coach about how stupid he is to pick Brazil when any nimrod knows that its downfield fantasia has disappeared over the last eight weeks. "You a foo' for likin' Cafu," Motormouth keeps yelling at him, which is a reference to Brazilian star Cafu (but you knew that).

It's no better at home, either. There's never anything on TV but soccer. Mostly, all that my twin girls want to see is Baggio, the Italian superstar (like you didn't know who he is). They've already got the matching Baggio bicycles and the Barbie and Baggio Ultraset, and now every lunch has to be the new LunchBaggios. I wonder if there's a Bank of Baggio I can rob to pay for it all.

And if it's not Baggio, my wife has the Nigerian national anthem going full blast on the stereo. Her gardening club and her nine-hole golf group both had pools, and she got Nigeria both times, so all she talks about is Augustine Okocha, who (I don't have to tell you) is the Nigerian star.

I'll come home, and Arise, O Compatriots, Nigeria's Call Obey will be playing, and I'll call out, "Honey? Honey?" and walk around the house looking for her, and then she'll jump out from behind the dining room hutch or somewhere and yell, "O-kocha!"

I think I'm going out of my skull.

Last night was the topper, though. My wife was at her fourth straight dribbling-header clinic down at the club, so I had to come up with dinner. I ordered pizza for all the kids, and none of them would eat it. Turns out they had read in World Soccer that the Romanian team refused an all-you-can-eat pizza deal from one of the players' relatives, who lives in L.A. They said the Romanian team doctor told the guy. "Pizza is a top performer's biggest foe." So now I've got a fridge full of Bigfoot that nobody wants.

Everywhere I go, it's Cup this, Cup that. Father O'Malley put in a plug for the Irish team again last Sunday during his homily, and Kineesa, the girl at the dry cleaners, refuses to take off the moose mask she's wearing in honor of Klas Ingesson, the Swedish star who is going to play even though he recently hurt his neck when his car hit a moose.

My golf foursome practically never gets together anymore. Anytime I suggest we play 18, they make up excuses, and then I find them out on the neighborhood pitch, working on their bicycle kicks.

And now even my father isn't speaking to me, ever since I got up at the Kiwanis meeting when it was my turn to name the team I thought would win it all, and I said Bulgaria instead of the U.S. Soon as we got in the car, he let me have it.

"Do you think your uncle Ed went over there and got a bunch of shrapnel in his spleen—which he carries to this day, I might add—so that his nephew could stand up at the Kiwanis and root for a bunch of commies who have no goaltending at all?" he yelled.

I tried to explain to him that I liked Bulgaria's powerful offense, but he wouldn't hear it.

Personally. I'll be glad when the last Cup party is over, and the pools are divvied up, and the guy at the tollbooth at the turnpike stops yelling "Tol-tol-tol-tol-tol-tol-tollllll!" every time I throw my quarter in, and the traffic cops get back to handing out tickets again instead of those silly yellow cards, and we can all get back to our normal, boring, everyday lives.

And maybe watch a little NFL.