Tuesday, April 18, 2006
MY WIFE and I talked about it Sunday night. Since she was still on vacation, and I had the day off, we would probably go to watch the Boston Marathon on Monday.
We had done so before and had a lot of fun. That was maybe 10 years ago. We had taken the T to Coolidge Corner in Brookline, about two miles or so from the finish line, and stood on Beacon Street cheering the runners as they passed.
We gave hearty applause to the leaders, of course, but the best part was cheering for the guys who had no chance whatsoever of winning, but who ran just to be able to say they completed Boston. We took along the sports section from the Herald and looked up the numbers of all the runners named Sullivan, of which there were about 8 or 9. Whenever we spotted one, we’d yell, "Go, Sully! Just two more miles! You can do it, Sully!"
One runner from New York, named Sullivan, came into view. We started yelling, "Go, Sully! You’re almost home, Sully!" and when he got maybe three or four steps past us, he turned around and came back. His nipples were bleeding.
Struggling for breath, he said, “How do you (*gasp*) know my name?”
I said, “It’s in the paper, for goodness' sakes! Get back in the race!”
He turned around and started running again. I like to believe it gave him that extra bit of strength to finish, anonymous people knowing who he was and rooting him on. Or maybe he enjoyed being an anonymous runner and the fact that some strangers knew who he was spooked him so much that he dropped out at Kenmore Square and took the T back to his hotel, wondering for the rest of his life just which Boston newspaper had done a story on him and why. He could have had any number of strange thoughts. I admire their dedication, but people who run marathons are an odd lot, so who knows what he thought?
Since we were going to the marathon, I decided to get a really good night’s sleep. I didn’t want to be standing around for three or four hours without the proper rest. So, whereas I usually get up around 7 am on a Monday, I slept until 8:30.
You need the proper nutrition on race day. So, when I got up, I fixed myself a proper breakfast. There was leftover ham from Easter dinner, so I fried up two slices of it. Ham for breakfast isn’t any good without eggs, so I scrambled two. And what good are scrambled eggs if you don’t have toast? I popped two slices into the toaster. Of course, you want to make sure you have something healthy to drink, so I had a big glass of apple juice. And some coffee, of course; you’ve got to stay awake. I wanted to be healthy about things, though, so I only put half a teaspoon of sugar in it, along with my cream.
After breakfast, I joined MY WIFE in the living room. We had some time before we would have to leave, so we watched a bit of TV. There’s this excellent cartoon on Disney, called Charlie & Lola, and since its usual audience is 4 or 5 year-olds, we don’t often get a chance to see it at its usual time. We tape it, then watch a whole bunch of episodes at once.
(Really. It’s an excellent cartoon. The episode that was on yesterday was But I AM An Alligator! We had seen it at least three times before, but we watched it again.)
After the show was over, I decided to shave and take a shower. Even though I hate shaving, one should look his best when one will be a representative of one’s home state cheering on visitors from Kenya and Korea and the like who will be whipping the butts of the American runners as usual.
After scraping the hair off of my face and violently jamming Q-tips into my ears in an effort to get out the water that always finds its way into my skull when showering, I got back into my pajamas and lay on the couch. It was still a good hour or so before we had to leave to watch the race, so why not be comfortable?
I asked MY WIFE, "So, WIFE, do you still want to go to the race?"
She said, "I was just about to ask you if you still wanted to go. Do you?"
I said, "Well, I could just watch the Red Sox game and then we could watch the marathon on TV. Do you really want to go, or would you rather just hang around?"
She said, "I’d probably rather do nothing."
That was the answer I was looking for, so I was fine with that. She decided to take a nap. She had been up since before I was; perhaps 7:00 or so. While she went off to the bedroom to lie down, I put on the Sox game.
For those of you unfamiliar with what happens on Patriot’s Day in Boston – which is a legal holiday around here, by the way – aside from the marathon, the Red Sox always have a game at 11am. That’s right; eleven o’clock in the morning. They were playing Seattle. This means that, for the folks back in Seattle who might wish to see the game, it was beginning at 8am. Certainly the television folks in Seattle would have no trouble selling the usual beer and automobile ads for a telecast at that time of day…
Here in Boston, the game finishes at approximately the time the lead runners in the marathon are passing through Kenmore Square, so you get the marathon crowd, the runners, and the 37,000 or so who just saw the Red Sox game, all converging on Kenmore Square at the same time. Therefore, I congratulated myself on the wisdom of not being in the middle of that mob by enjoying a bowl of Golden Crisp cereal as I sat on the couch.
I watched the first three innings and then decided that MY WIFE had had a lovely idea, so I decided to take a nap, also. I put the game on the radio (which is actually my favorite way to enjoy a baseball broadcast, not TV) and lay down.
When I woke up, it was almost two o’clock and the Red Sox were down to their final out in the 9th inning, trailing by a run. I groggily went out to the living room and switched on the television in time to see Kevin Youkilis beat out an infield single and then Mark Loretta (Mark Loretta!) hit a walk-off home run over the wall. I celebrated with a piece of chocolate.
I switched the TV over to the marathon coverage on channel 4, just in time to see a Kenyan cross the finish line. It turned out he had broken the course record by one second! Yay! I had another piece of chocolate.
MY WIFE joined me in watching the trailers cross the finish line. She had started baking some white-chocolate-macadamia-nut cookies while I was finishing up my nap and the first of them were just about ready to come out of the oven.
The TV cameras were showing some folks further back on the course, not even through Natick yet. They said that some folks wouldn’t be finishing the race until 5:30 or 6:00. MY WIFE handed me a cookie and she had one herself.
"5:30!" I said, as I took a bite of my cookie.
"That’s awfully slow", she said.
She took another bite of her cookie and I took another bite of mine.
"Hell, I could walk the route in less time than that!" I said, as I wiped some crumbs from the front of my pajamas.
I finished my cookie and went in the other room to have a cigarette.
After I finished my smoke, I returned to the couch and looked at the program guide. Davey And Goliath was coming on in a couple of minutes, and after that Leave It To Beaver. We watched a few more runners drag themselves across the finish line. By this time, they were showing guys wearing viking horns and running the race backwards and wearing chicken suits, and telling us their stories. I changed the channel.
I mean, geez, who wants to hear about people so childish and unconnected to reality as that?