The elevator doors opened wide to welcome Eugene Prendergast into the empty car. A gorgeous afternoon here outside Three Mellon Bank Center. We have first-rate conditions for today’s contest, a dry course, mild temperature, and the sky is sunny and clear over Center City Philadelphia. Oh, my! It looks like Gene Prendergast is off to a tremendous start. He’s made it onto the elevator alone at four minutes before five ¾ without being seen! What do I need? Gateway’s a dollar eighty. Got the buck. Got to change out of these clothes ¾ sweaty smell. Quite a skilled performer. A six foot two veteran of this race. Out of Havertown, Pennsylvania. Been around a number of years but still has many years ahead of him. At 27, many people say he still has his best years ahead of him. Well, you know with great starts like the one he got today I don’t know how long it’ll be before Gene starts bringing home a few of those championship rings. Let’s see, one, two. There’s fifty. One, two, three, cool. Fantastic! Eighty cents. Sick of the smell. Monkey suit. Is there another 35? Put that in the other pocket. No, not long at all, I imagine. Not long at all before he’s wearing one of those rings. He does have some competition, though. Today’s race promises to be an especially hotly contested one. There’s that special motivation which comes with a Friday race. Gonzo Friday. It’s great. I can hardly wait … until the weekend!
Prendergast’s elevator stops with a jolt and is invaded by two ugly, chubby women, both in their thirties, one blonde with a lot of rouge on her cheeks, the other a brunette wearing dark glasses and an excess of perfume that makes Gene think of purple. They occupy the center of the car. Gene leans against the wall in the rear right corner, affects a look of fatigue and indifference so they won’t talk to him, and watches the orange numerals flash in descending order.
— So she was syow trawmatoized she cou’n’t come ta work taday.
— I don’t understand. Is she movin’ far away?
— Nyeow, nyeow. Jus’ deyown na shtreet. You knyeow, from one house to dee udder.
— That girl takes a day awff every time she breaks a nail.
¾ She hasn’t had the job teeoo long ¾ has she?
¾ Nyeow! She just got it. That’s why she’s such an do - ope.
¾ She’s rooinin’ her big chance.
You stupid cows are ruinin’ my life. And youse’re makin’ me sick to my stomach. Man, between the perfume and the gum … The crowd getting excited now. You can hear them chanting as the elevator brings the athletes to the ground floor for the true start of this contest.
¾ 17 … 16 … 15 … !
How much effect do you think the fact that it is Friday afternoon has on these athletes, as opposed to some other afternoon or shall I say “evening”? We can hear how it is affecting the fans. Well, you know, I believe it has a tremendous effect on the athletes as far as their getting up and as far as their swiftness and eagerness and the motivational … Motivationwise, I’d say, “yes” that Friday is the best day to have a race, to watch one, or to be in one. It most certainly does have an effect ¾ and a big one at that. It’s a day on which records can be set and broken. We have to remember here that these Racers are not only racing home for the night but they are going home for an entire weekend. They may not be racing exclusively home either. They may be going to their favorite places to eat or drink or watch movies or a show or a date or a host of other things that these Racers are interested in. Stop at the Manoa for a quick one? Murph’s supposed to hook me up. See if he’s there? Why not? That’s right. Also, they may be leaving the city for the weekend. They may be sick of work and know that all they have to do is get this commute over with and then we have two whole days and a night, which makes it a whole nother thing. Make sure it’s just a quick one, though. Wanna change. We’ll have to check with the statisticians to see exactly how much time away from work these contestants have. At any rate, it is a very long time. Well, I’d say these runners definitely have something to run for this afternoon. What do you think? I can’t argue with you about that. Maybe I should say “evening.” Hold on. I think ...
¾ Ba Bom Ba Bom Ba bombombombom Bom Ba Bom Bom!
Yes! We’ve reached .the ground floor. Rriiiinngg! The doors are open. Gene stands aside for the ladies as specified in the Rules and lets them out first. He then bursts from his inferior position and takes the lead like an experienced distance runner does when, after having kept pace with the front runners, he decides to go into his “kick” and sprint toward the tape. In this case, however, we have Prendergast on his way to the revolving door closest to Fifteenth Street. He easily outdistances not only the others in his car but many of the others as well. We see him zigzagging across the floor of the lobby, a slippery part of the course today ¾ wouldn’t you say? Well, it certainly can be but it doesn’t seem to be a factor in his performance at all. He handles it quite gracefully as he comes upon a little Oriental Lady headed after the mailman. Should he pass on the left? Right? Left? Right? Left! Good eye, Gene, good eye. He checks his time by the clock at City Hall while negotiating the revolving door. Oh, my! It is not yet five o’clock and Gene Prendergast has made it onto the sidewalk outside of his building! This kid really came to play. He rushed out of there like it was on fire or something. Unreal! Things going remarkably well for Prendergast this afternoon. Funny how they hire all them Orientals instead of the Blacks. What do you mean, “all our employees are white”? Look at all the Chinamen we got. And there’s a black woman who answers the phone who sounds white. She is black, though. I can attest to that. The timing is critical here and Prendergast knows it. Oooh! A fine athletic move around the old woman with the cane! He showed good acceleration there as he stepped quickly to the right and then just as rapidly back to his left to gain the lead on the old woman. Marvelous! Should pick up several precious seconds with that. Well, he moves so fast you could easily lose him in the crowd. That’s the beauty of watching a contestant of this caliber compete in a race like this. That’s why I don’t agree with these reformers who say the Racers should be allowed to run through the streets. You’d miss the grace and the athleticism of moves like that. I can’t agree more with you on that and you’re not even mentioning the safety factor and so forth. The role that both safety and strategy and experience play can’t be underestimated. Prendergast, for our viewers at home, with the brown suit and tie and the yellow shirt and let’s not forget ¾ mustachioed! His hair light brown, a bit long in back, receding a little on top, kind of pinkish on top from the sun. Look at him go! You know, that is where, motivationally, a Friday race comes into play. Moves like the one he just made, as we said before, show the importance of that motivational factor. The timing is important as well. One second can make the difference between a successful crossing of Fifteenth Street and a disheartening, potentially disastrous delay. Funny way to get around a quota. You wouldn’t think it was so funny if they put N.I.N.A. in the window, though ¾ would yih? I guess not. It’s really not too cool. It’s a big crazy struggle in this country: Chinks, Niggers, Harps, Wops, Whites, Blacks, Men, Women. It’s a nuthouse. Makes it exciting, though. Gives it all this energy. And all the WASPs sit back and watch. Telling us what to do while they rake in all the money. Them and the stinkin’ Jews. They let us do all the fightin’ and they make the profit from it all. What a way to run a railroad, as Joe says. Hey, but they pay me whether I work hard or not. So I’ll take their money. Who cares?
We’ve come to the Street Crossing. The DON’T WALK sign is flashing. Like I said, this can be quite dangerous for the Racers. That’s right. You know, this is where that Friday afternoon factor that we talked about previously, negatively becomes a factor once again. The more motivated the runner is ¾ and I think in the case of Prendergast we have motivation which is quite high indeed ¾ the bigger the risks they will take in trying to get across. Though the Friday Factor can help by giving boldness to a performer who otherwise is on the timid side, it can also get that adrenaline pumpin’ so high that the athlete runs a high risk of getting into an Error Situation and possibly even a serious injury. Look at that! God! She’s nice. Prendergast seems to be admiring a young blonde ahead of him in the crowd. For our viewers at home she’s the one with the hourglass figure in the peach top with no sleeves and the short navy blue skirt. That’s another thing that Prendergast has going for him ¾ good taste. I seen her before. Catch her eye today. Maybe Monday see her again. Try to bump into her and talk to her. Hey, stranger things have happened. Maybe run into her again at McGlinchey’s or something. Hook up. Hang out with her at lunch time. It’d be nice. Nice blonde. “Strawberry blonde,” I think they call it. It would do you some good. That’s your whole problem, you know. She’s not bad at all ¾ big handfuls, not a bad ass but hard to tell in that skirt. Thick ankles ¾ maybe thunder thighs. Don’t matter though, really. Sneakers. Maybe if she had high heels on, her legs would look better. Getting’ to know their tricks ¾ aren’t yih?
Oh, my! Gene goes to his right along the zebra stripes past the Triune sculpture and moves steadily but not too fast against the flow of the automobile traffic. He’s all alone over there. He’s like a baserunner taking a lead, trying to get a good jump. Yes! He finds a hole between a stopped Chevy and a slowing Toyota and off he goes! Beautiful! That was something to see the way he threaded that needle, let me tell you. What Prendergast did in that situation was, you know, he played it real well, not letting the adrenaline lead him into an Error Situation, not letting the excitement take over. He bided his time, moving the whole time toward his goal, not always at top speed but trying always to stay in motion, always moving towards that objective, always keeping that goal in mind ¾ his immediate objective here is the giant Clothespin ¾ and not making his move until he was sure there was sufficient time and space for him to pass through. Peripheral vision and knowledge of the course and training ... And don’t forget a great deal of good, old-fashioned instinct helps these runners on a day like today. Quite a good performance for Gene. He’s ahead of his usual time as we see him hop from the street to the little hill of cobblestones. Actually, we see from his split that Gene is well on his way to running a race that would give him his fastest time, lifetime. He steered clear of that tree nicely. He now is about to enter into the thick of things. He’ll be surrounded by men in suit jackets, mostly blue but a few grey and brown ones thrown in. Muscular black girls with big earrings with their names on them will take the field along with some of their male counterparts in Georgetown jackets and their cohorts in Sixers’ jackets. Some wear baseball caps. Others prefer the flattop hairdo so popular these days and leave their heads uncovered. Female executives and secretaries hurry toward their destinations as well. Why don’t you give our viewers at home an idea of what it is like to be in this part of the race? O.K., well, down there in the trenches, as it were, you have that crush of all kinds of various bodies wearing cotton, denim and leather and lace. You see bra straps and blouses and huge white sneakers. You get the smell of bubble gum, perfume, and cologne, sweat, exhaust, and cigarettes, and hot dogs. That’s right. He’s also got those vendors to contend with. The vendors cause problems for some Racers ¾ don’t they? They do. You know, people underestimate the difficulty faced by these Racers but a Racer like Prendergast faces obstacles that our viewers at home may not comprehend the difficulty of. He’s got the vendors who could make a sale of a t-shirt or a soda or a pack of cigarettes or a pretzel right in his path and catch him off guard and have him blocked up for a full second, possibly more for a less experienced Racer. You also have to watch out for the Handbill People. Handbill People can cause a real frustrating Delay Situation. Combine them with a delay from a vendor and customer and you may as well just kiss that championship ring goodbye.
Miraculous! Having passed the tree, Prendergast squeezes himself between the t-shirt vendor and the cigarette vendor. He now moves onto the sidewalk, careful not to step on a crack, joining the crowd of pedestrians, running for daylight, flanked by the pretzel vendors on his right and the Continental Bank on his left. You know, that is one of the best things about broadcasting this race from the City of Brotherly Love ¾ those Philadelphia Soft Pretzels! Oh, my, yes! Between them and the cheese steaks I’d weigh more than three hundred pounds if I lived here in Philly! That incense stinks. Tell these turban guys to go peddle that stuff in Ethiopia or someplace. Prendergast, however, seems to keep himself in remarkable shape. And he moves really well for a big guy, you know. Yes, excellent lateral movement, fine agility. Surprising for a man of his size. He tries to go left to pass some Talkers but he’s blocked by Jim the Ventman. Where’d he get that bottle of J.D.? Poor soul, always wears that coat, even in the ninety-degree heat. Better than going around with no pants on, at least. Quite an aroma he’s got going there, too. What were them three things about springtime? Gene spots an opportunity as the mopey-looking fishface in the grey cap holds up the Oncomers. Who does he think he is ¾ Studs Lonigan? He dodges quickly to the left and then skirts back over to the right. Oh, my! A real close one there for Prendergast but he made it. Did he touch the mopey-looking fishface in the grey cap? I don’t know. It’s hard to tell from this angle but, you know, a lot of times it is difficult for these Racers, intense competitors that they are, to avoid hitting the passersby. Very often they are tempted to lower their shoulders and knock them out of the way. However, professionals like Prendergast never do such things. These professionals have to deal with unforeseen events like running into the Talkers who don’t seem to realize that there are other people in the world besides themselves. They also have to keep an eye out for handbags, briefcases, unexpected changes in direction, speed, or even sudden complete stoppages. Maneuvering around the handbags can be quite difficult, you know. Oh, yeah, and the swinging arms of some bejeweled woman in front of you can be dangerous if they don’t know you’re coming. That’s right. They’ll hit you right where you live. A bracelet to the groin ¾ devastating to a male competitor! Look at that one! Look at all of them. That’s one of the best things about spring is when all of these beautiful bodies that have been wrapped up all winter are set free and start bouncing up and down the street. Mmmm! Hello. Nothing special about the face but that body is tremendous! Prendergast turns to get a look at the ass of a former Oncomer. Oh, my! All I can say is “Wow!” She’s gorgeous in those black-and-white striped pants. I don’t know. She’s not that good looking, really, but she is sexy as hell. Check out the cops in the Paddy Wagon looking at her. Such cockiness, too. Probably spends more time undressed than she does dressed. South Philly girl. After easily going around on the right of the blonde woman in preposterous high heels, Prendergast begins a post pattern straight for the clothespin. Three signs of spring in the city: days start getting longer, the girls starting looking better, and the city starts to smell like piss. Of course, the Racers have to work on keeping their concentration. Yeah, in case anyone thinks this race is easy, consider the amount of possible distractions that could occur at any time. The runners can’t afford to waste too much time looking at the nipples poking through the tight, red T-shirt over there or the amazing ass in those designer jeans or at the young woman with the brown ponytail and the white bow over there or at that pair of unbelievable legs or those shapely ankles or those swaying hips or that slit skirt or the supple flesh of those long bare arms. Heh, heh, heh, heh. A guy could forget about the race altogether. Dirty old man! A tall, bald, white guy with glasses, a Handbill Person, is distributing fliers directly in front of the steps and right in the path of the speeding Prendergast. Gene slows. There’s that chick again. Wow! He allows the young black man with the flat top hairdo to come up on his left and pass him. Do them guys ever buy that incense? I doubt it. Brilliant! The black man stops to take the proffered handbill and Gene is able to go around him and hit the stairway! What a move! What a figure. Hope she’s going my way. That’s exactly what you could use. She’s really beautiful. She could change your life. What is it about her, anyway? I like all that hair, the wings. Get all tangled up in it. It’s her shape mostly ¾ them hips swinging. Her sexy wiggle. The swerve of her hips, and the large breasts on that small body. She’s hot. Maybe see her on the El.
¾ Would you like to sit down?
¾ I noticed you at Fifteenth Street and I wanted to-
¾ Would you like to join me for a drink? I’m on my way to the Manoa Tavern.
Boy, that’ll make her swoon ¾ won’t it? Anyway. Did you see that move around the Handbiller? Astounding! Remarkable! Fantastic! Way above Par! Things are going so well for this young man this evening!
¾ Perhaps you would care to join me on the 104 bus? You see, I haven’t quite gotten the funds together to pay Mr. Costello’s fees for the inspection sticker.
B. Dalton Bookseller bag.
¾ Now, how did the people at your office let the prettiest girl leave without offering to carry that heavy bag for her?
¾ I see you like to read. I like to read also. What kind of books do you like?
¾ Novels? I used to read books when I was at the University. Temple 1980. Now, I’m partial to the Daily News. Sports Section, you know.