"Last night," said Gene, "he really ate big. He ate two of those stuffed birds, you know, Cornish hens. And he had a double order of dessert [Sicilian pastry].
"When Mel Allen asked him if he was going to fight again, he said, 'I just ate two desserts. What do you think?' "
Before Rocky got to the hens and the pastry, Gene reported, he helped himself to plentiful antipasto and some manicotti, which is a kind of delicate noodle stuffed with cheese. Very farinaceous. Naturally, he drank a little coffee.
What are pride and money against these delights? Why should a man turn his back on Cornish game hens for pride, $400,000 and the puritanical strictures of Charley Goldman?
Norris is wrong. Only an appeal to Rocky's New England conscience will get him into the ring. Only the tug of the superego, as Cus D'Amato would put it, can divert Rocky from his present courses—six courses for breakfast, eight for lunch, 12 for dinner.
Rocky's conscience can be appealed to. Unless he fights Patterson, generations of fight fans to come will be subjected to a modern variation on sport's most boring refrain: Could Jack Dempsey have beaten Joe Louis?
It is a frightening prospect to think of all the nitwit arguments in saloons, the drivel of newspaper and magazine articles, the dull drone of radio and TV interviews that will take up the question: Do you think Rocky Marciano could have beaten Floyd Patterson?
Think of this, Rocky, as you chew on a leg of Cornish game hen at Leone's or Toots Shor's or the new Rocky Marciano Room over on Lexington. Think of it, and think of suffering humanity, which you alone can save. Come back, Rocky. Then you can retire in peace. And all the manicotti you can eat.
In its relentless drive toward automation, professional football first tried to make players into robots by setting up radio communication between them and the coach. The technique didn't work out very well, and was abandoned; now the experimenters have turned their attention from the field to the stadium, and a brand-new automanikin has made his debut in Chicago. His inventor, Andy Frain, calls him a "robot director," but it seems likely that a lot of people are going to call him a mechanical usher.