That pretty much set the tone of the proceedings, although they didn't decline into the indiscriminate. Dr. James had been called away to the hospital, so Henderson designated himself proxy prize-receiver. He was met with a fiery stare and an outflung arm. "Oh, no," said Hemingway. "I know the rules. You don't run, you don't get kissed."
"Next year we get Brooke Shields," said Henderson.
The Coe family somehow entered into the spirit of things from 6,000 miles away, Peter Coe having written bits of advice on the certificates. "If you want 'em fast, breed 'em yourself," was one that briefly sobered the house. Briefly.
A long table was spread with roasts and turkeys and salmon and midsummer produce. As the men continued their serial mauling of Mariel, the women drifted over to the strawberries and cream. "She seems to be holding up altogether too well," said one.
"Listen," said Martin, snapping out of the trance Hemingway's kiss had induced in him, "my greatest joy right now is that I won't have to hear about this damned thing anymore, ever."
"The replay is ready!" shouted Henderson, rolling in a TV set, and everybody lived through the race one more time. A few grew mistily philosophic. "It's so jubilant," said one. "Such a counterpoint to the sadness of an Olympic Trials for no Olympics."
"Anticipation is one thing," said Jimmy Jaqua, "and the event is another. But analysis afterward is still another, and the worst." And that put a stop to that.
" 'Toward the end,' " said Leonard toward the end, quoting something he'd read on a bulletin board once, " 'they had only a dumb wonder at having debased themselves so wretchedly.' "
All but O'Donnell, who wandered through the crowd demanding to be told the times were wrong, that there couldn't possibly be 16 seconds between Meinert's first and his third. At last he gave up, coming to rest in a corner with a leg of lamb. "Oh, well," he said with the pinpoint accuracy of the insensate, "we did it all for the money, anyway."