"Oh, yes. Lots of beer and gin-and-tonic."
"I drink wine. And beer and gin. But no tonic."
"So close, and yet so far."
We had no commitments, yet we were always occupied. Perhaps we are slow, or have lengthy attention spans. We certainly lingered over our meals, in conversation or, in Frank's case, in attempting to eat.
"I'm really up for this race," he said early in the week. "I have no appetite at all." For lunch he usually could get down a chocolate sundae and a gin-and-coke.
I asked if he had any objection to my publicizing his fondness for gin.
"Well, it's me," he said. "I sip it to relax and I've always done it. But if I bombed out in the race, a lot of rednecks would say, 'See how the lush drank himself out of contention.' It wouldn't be true, but I'd hate to give them the ammunition."
Later in the day the Russians arrived and passed out little bottles of vodka.
The previous year the Russians had been archetype proletariat. One, Yuri Volkov, who finished eighth with a Soviet record 2:14:28, is a metalworker and has a scar, of unstated origin, from jaw to hairline. He made noise when he ran, stamping on the pavement as if killing bugs. We all nodded knowingly the morning after the race when he could not walk, so damaged was one Achilles' tendon.
This year's Russians were smooth. Both were 28, phys ed graduate students and, on five words of English, urbane. Their names: Vassily Shalomilov and Yuri Maurin.