WILMINGTON, DE—As the 2010 World Cup approaches, friends, family, and coworkers of 32-year-old Brad Janovich are growing less tolerant of the exuberant behavior of the United States' lone soccer fan.
"Who's got World Cup fever?" Janovich asked his officemates at Credit Solutions Friday, failing to notice their silent stares as he reported for work clad in the sole Team USA jersey sold this year. "I do! I've got World Cup fever!"
"Check out this World Cup wall chart I just bought," added Janovich, who is the only American citizen currently aware that the World Cup begins June 11.
According to sources only peripherally aware of the World Cup, Janovich's infuriating behavior first became apparent during a Super Bowl viewing party last February when he repeatedly used the phrase "American football" to describe the action on the field. In recent weeks, Janovich has also begun referring to the supposed suspense involved in choosing the players for the U.S. "side," and has struck up several extended but one-sided conversations concerning figures such as "Kaka" and "Ronaldinho," generally mystifying and alienating everyone he has come into contact with.
Yesterday Janovich sent an office-wide e-mail about the controversy surrounding the new World Cup ball, and the message was instantly deleted by all of his coworkers.
"Decorating his cubicle with World Cup stuff is fine, I guess," said coworker Greg Lafferty, who endured several elevator rides in which he politely listened to the lone American soccer fan evaluate international matchups before realizing that Janovich was discussing the outcomes of soccer games and not impending wars. "I myself have a Yankees pennant at my desk. But Brad has all these scarves draped all over everything. They hang into other people's areas, and when they ask him to move them, he responds by explaining what the scarf means. It's driving us nuts."
"Last week he was talking about how 'footy' was really heating up and asked me to come over for the 'friendly' against Turkey," said Janovich's friend Beth Gleason, who has known the only projected U.S. viewer of this year's World Cup broadcast since college. "I love Brad, I really do, but when he talks like that I want to punch him in the goddamn face. Especially because, when I asked him what he was talking about, he just said the same thing again, only slower. I was like, 'Brad, don't talk like that. People don't talk like that.'"
With only a week to go, Janovich's singular, almost unconscionable degree of soccer fanhood has only intensified. Credit Solutions employees reported that a crude "World Cup countdown calendar" appeared on the break room wall Friday, the same day that everyone in Janovich's division arrived to find him wearing Umbro soccer shorts and placing a World Cup bracket on every desk.
In addition, coworkers reported that it is not uncommon for Janovich to spontaneously start humming or singing repeated snatches of songs evidently composed exclusively of the sound "olé" while seated at his desk.
"I had absolutely no idea what 'FIFA South Africa 2010' meant," said Lafferty, who made the mistake of asking Janovich to explain. "When he told me that's where the soccer games were and that the time difference meant he'd be getting up early to watch them, all I could think was that maybe he'd be too tired to talk about them afterward."
Janovich has also extended invitations to everyone he knows to accompany him to the Newgate, a pub in downtown Wilmington that will be showing the World Cup live and is favored by British expatriates.
"It'll be nice to finally be among other fans," Janovich said. "And speaking as a fan, it's really great to see Hotspur and Arsenal and Aston Villa supporters all come together for the Three Lions, though I'm hoping the Yanks can channel the spirit of the 1950 shock horror. But that's not as important as uniting in our love of the Beautiful Game, as any football [sic] fan will tell you."
Newgate regulars agreed that Janovich's enthusiasm was unique.
"That American fan? He's harmless, I guess," bartender and lifelong Tottenham supporter Martin West said. "Though he gets pretty tiresome with all his footy rubbish, and he can really get annoying when we're all just trying to watch in peace. Thank Christ he's the only one."