The World Cup kicks off tomorrow.

 

If you are anything like most of your fellow Americans, your knowledge of the great sport of football is most likely confined to the fact that Wayne Rooney kinda resembles Shrek, David Beckham is much better-looking than you and if you ever walk into an English pub and holler “Manchester United!!!!” there is like a 20 percent chance you won’t get beaten senseless.

 

If you’re truly honest with yourself, you don’t understand the hype. When football fanatics wax eloquent on their favorite subject, they use words like “elegance” and “symmetry” and “geometry,” which bring you back to high school math classes defined by thought patterns running something like: “The square root of both sides of a quadratic I WONDER IF THAT CUTE GIRL IN FRONT OF ME KNOWS I EXIST equation leaves me with…the wrong answer.” You can’t remember ever being sincerely entertained by football, other than that one time you got soused, pulled up YouTube and played that clip of that French guy headbutting that Italian chap on endless repeat.

 

Football, to you, is much more of this…

..than this.

But hey, you’re a sophisticated citizen of the globe. You made that one trip to Mexico to build a house and ended up playing an impromptu pick-up game with some kids and you even kicked the ball once, seeing as you have Facebook photos to prove it. You spent those five weeks in Spain for your summer abroad, and you’re pretty sure you witnessed either a football match or a bullfight (you’re a little hazy on the details because you woke up the next morning prostrate on the beach cradling a splitting headache and, somewhat inexplicably, a stuffed bear. You have even taken a gander at a power ranking or two, mainly to see just how abysmal everyone thinks the United States is going to be.

 

So you’re fancying yourself a bit of a football fan, and looking to score some social points with your friends by presenting yourself as something of an authority on the subject. Good for you, you hip multicultural soccer shaman you.

 

As a last-minute brush-up before the entire globe bids farewell to reason for the next few months, here are three things you can do to cement your status as a football guru.

 

#1. Erase an inevitably atrocious U.S. performance with a nifty bit of misdirection

Things are looking bleak for the good ol’ Stars and Stripes. Our group is a doozy, and Ghana takes especial pleasure in doing this to us over and over again.

Have no fear! You can turn the tide of public opinion for your hapless countrymen. Here’s how:

 

Watch all U.S. matches at the most crowded bar you can find. Every time our opponents take possession and cross midfield (for those of you unfamiliar with football lingo, “midfield” refers to “the middle of the field”), bellow “OFFSIDES!” at the top of your lungs.

 

Chances are, you’ll be wrong. Chances are, your compatriots won’t know it.

 

Just like that, you’ve transformed the match. Instead of getting drubbed by a superior squad, the Americans are now the victims of foul play and awful referees. The entire bar can throw things and return to their homes, grousing happily about how we “just got robbed.”

 

#2. Buy a vuvuzela. Learn how to pronounce “vuvuzela.” Use your vuvuzela liberally.

No, it’s not a “vuzeveela”, or a “voodooveler” or even “that annoying horn thing.” It’s a vuvuzela, a magnificent beast of an instrument designed for maximum ear damage and the scourge that ticked everyone off so badly during South Africa’s World Cup that FIFA banned the Brazilian answer for this upcoming round (although, to be fair, the Brazilian version does function better as a hand grenade).

 

No matter. To you, it’s your ticket to football immortality. Show up at crowded watering holes with your noisemaker coolly concealed beneath the seams of your parka. Conduct yourself with the utmost calm. Wear your obvious experience and refinement like a sharp suit. Then, when the tidal back-and-forth of gameplay lulls your unsuspecting comrades into a stupor, leap on the nearest table, whip out the horn of the gods and shatter that stultified air.

 

Chaos will ensue. Criminal charges will probably be filed.

 

#3. Invent your own terminology.

After a particularly spectacular score, lean back, close one eye, and boisterously blather on about “that Messi’s expert use of flackfooting” and how the defense “should’ve gone with a hexagonal hedron approach, rather than a full tunnel bunch.”

 

When a player gets carded, growl something on the order of “That’s a second-degree beta-foul!” and “his foot was too far outside the field buss.”

 

When someone’s withering shot on goal goes wide, bellow “Stop firing missiles at right angles to reality!”

 

What’s the harm? Chances are, none of your friends will know enough to call your bluff. You’ll get away with it. Except for the missile line. That may warrant a few odd glances.

 

The point is, do try to engage with the whole thing. It’s the World Cup, for goodness sakes. The premier sporting event of our time, an unprecedented spectacle of global cohesion that only rolls around once every four years. Who cares if you don’t understand the game? In the words of the immortal Douglas Adams, “Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.”

 

Will you be watching the World Cup? Who are you rooting for? Will the rest of the world ever get with the program and just call it soccer already? Find me on Twitter @aa_murph