FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT: "To be able to work at and for what one most wants to do well should be gospel in our democracy."
Frank Shorter (testifying before the President's Commission on Olympic Sports): "Well, I graduated from Yale in 1969, and I decided that rather than go into medical school I would become a runner, much to the chagrin of all the Puritan-ethic people in New England, and I started training about 80 miles a week, and it has gone up to 150 and 200 miles in a week, and I think in the last seven years I have maybe not run 15 days, and that is twice every day in the last seven years, and just day in and day out, all of the year round...."
Ultimately, it seems, long-distance runners may be merely selfish. Lonely? Hell, they love it. Their loneliness has been romanticized as a form of heroic sacrifice, while it is probably only so much smoke, used to conceal more prosaic truths. After all, it is hardly uncommon for competitors to be lonely: who is more alone than a goalie, or a pitcher on the mound, or a golfer standing over a 10-foot birdie putt? Who is company for them?
But long-distance runners have scored well, PR-wise, in the lonely area, and so we accept them as solitary heroes: undaunted and sensitive, introspective and independent. Jogs there a jogger who does not think of himself as the last intrepid maverick, spiritual heir to Gary Cooper? In truth, long-distance runners may be, essentially, only rather strange, with a natural bent for tedium.
May 23, 1976
The fascinating thing about those who run long distances is not their psyche but how they affect those who do not run long distances. People must perceive something primeval about a long-distance runner padding along the road—and no matter whether it be Frank Shorter churning out a dozen well-tuned five-minute miles or a tired old jogger weaving a few desultory furlongs. The bald sight of a runner unsettles many people in the United States and leaves them raw and mean.
Hostility is the word the runners turn to. Objects are tossed at them, obscenities hurled, gauntlets flung. Tires squeal and exhausts belch in their faces. The comics lean out the window and bark "hut, hut, hut," like sergeants, or make crude sexual comments. In Gainesville, where Shorter attended the University of Florida Law School, his wife Louise had to give up running alone because of the constant vicious provocation. In New Mexico, where Shorter's parents live, his father once had to shadow him in a car, packing a handgun, to ward off those psychotics whose regular amusement was to try to run Shorter down.
Long-distance runners, who are lean leg people in a pudgy world of wheels, already feel apart; the vehicular menace only makes them more so. "By now, all runners have been harassed so much that we have become aggressive when we get out on the road," says Louise Shorter. "I was watching when Frank and his group ran by our house in Boulder the other day. Just at that time, a friend came up behind them in his car and honked hello. Instinctively, everyone running in the group turned around and gave the poor guy the finger."
Undoubtedly, runners are a challenge to the automobile itself, skinny primitives threatening the assumption that internal combustion is brawny and the only way to go. Furthermore, as the classic linear endeavor, running defies a prosperous society that clusters naturally around the TV set, the wet bar, the barbecue.
And yet, for all those Americans who fear or despise a runner for his unforgivable cultural apostasy, there are as many who are moved to salute him as the surviving sovereign spirit. Nowhere in American sport do the dear and noble come together more beautifully than at the Boston Marathon, at a place beyond the finish line, up an escalator, down a long corridor, where spectators gather behind wooden horses to inspect the haggard contestants.
The race is o'er, the battle done. The finishers are merely on their way to the lockers, for Band-Aids and a bowl of stew. But the people take up choice spots well in advance and stand two and three deep for the chance to acclaim those who have just run 26 miles and 385 yards. They cheer them all, every one. It continues for an hour and a half or more. The cheers increase for older men and women runners, but the heartiest applause is tendered to those runners who jog down the corridor. These fellows have run 26 miles, 385 yards, but, by God, they are not done running.
Most of the contestants are altogether unused to this adulation. They shyly examine those who have come to look at them, and there is a sense of communion in the air. The long-distance runners smile appreciatively as they are applauded. Almost all of these anonymous men and women will never again be cheered so long as they live.
Frank Shorter is the best at this wretched excess. Legend has it that the first marathoner, the Greek messenger Phidippides, dropped dead in Athens after running from Marathon to report the victory over the invading Persians. Nothing is known of Phidippides' build and age, but those who have followed in his footsteps tend to be short, wizened men who mature late at their hard art. When Shorter won the gold medal at the Munich Olympics at 24 he was relatively a baby.
Nobody longs to grow up and become a marathoner. The runner ascends to that estate, usually, because he cannot win shorter races. In college, where there is no marathon, coaches call these fellows "LSDs"—long, slow, distance runners—and despair of what to do with them. In the autumn, they run cross-country and obtain small headlines in the college papers as "harriers."
Such was Shorter at Yale, a runner of modest distinction. His coach, the renowned Bob Giegengack, the 1964 Olympic track and field coach, figured Shorter had a chance of becoming a 10,000-meter man, because he appeared to have perfect equilibrium for the long haul. He is 5'10", 133, and runs straight up—"a vertical hyphen," according to Marty Liquori.
Giegengack didn't picture Shorter as a marathoner because nobody much associates Americans with that event. A couple of little locals, Clarence DeMar and Johnny Kelley, gained some fame in the Boston Marathon, but until Shorter's surprise victory at Munich, more than 60 years had passed since an American had won in the Olympics. In 1904 Thomas Hicks trundled home in just under three and a half hours (the redoubtable Johnny Kelley ran Boston this year in 3:28 at age 68), and in 1908 Johnny Hayes was awarded an unpopular disputed victory. He crossed the line 32 seconds after an Italian pastry baker, Dorando Pietri, but while Pietri was assisted rather conspicuously near the finish by officials (among other things, his pulse had stopped), Hayes had been ministered to in greater privacy along the route. So he got the gold.
The third-place finisher, a South African who made it strictly on his own, did not protest, considering that to be bad form. This attitude still prevails among a number of marathoners, who are more concerned about completing their appointed rounds than in winning the bloody thing. The serious possibility of victory does not seem to enter their minds unless they are well along and comfortably ahead, and even then it appears to dawn on them largely through a process of elimination. Shorter has stood at the finish of marathons he has won in order to shake the hand of all who stayed the course. "Only a great feeling of thankfulness sweeps over you," he says. "There is no sense of conquest, none of this business about vanquishing anybody. My only thought is, 'Here we are, dammit! We made it!' "
Shorter's prime challenger at the U.S. marathon Trials in Eugene, Ore. this Saturday, where the top three will qualify for Montreal, is a skinny little towhead named Bill Rodgers. A teacher of emotionally disturbed children, Rodgers won the Boston Marathon last year in 2:09:55, aided by a 20 to 25 mph tail wind, to break Shorter's American record of 2:10:30. (It must be noted that records in the marathon are relatively meaningless because the courses vary greatly.) Rodgers was in Boston this year as a journalist and a press colleague, momentarily forgetting that the marathon is different from all other competitions, asked him a typical sportswriter strategy question, to wit: What sort of a race would he run against Shorter at Eugene? Rodgers drew back, assessing for a moment the daft soul who had uttered such a banality before answering as politely as he could, "But you never run against anybody in the marathon. You just run the best you can."
Shorter says, "It is a fine line, but to me the object is not to beat someone, but merely to live up to your potential. If you do, then you will end up winning a lot, but you won't be beating anybody. I hate to lose as much as anybody I know, but beat people? I guess that's why I never could have been a good team player—because it's never been that important for me to beat people."
Giegengack, now retired, was for some time confounded by Shorter's offhand ways. Despite his vintage Bronx accent ("But you listen; perfect syntax," he says), Giegengack lived among the sons of Eli Yale for three decades and he has a healthy respect for The Yale Man. Indeed, in passing, and in perfect syntax, Giegengack provides the alltime classic throwaway definition of Yale: "It's a great singing place and it's a great verbal place, too." Nonetheless, while Giegengack was plenty used to guys marching to their different drummers, Shorter took the prize. The coach says, "Even after he won the gold medal, if he was at a track meet and heard a gun go off, he'd start running—5,000 meters or something, which he couldn't possibly win. So once I told him, 'Hey, Frank, if you really want to get beat, why don't you go in the shotput?' You see, I was worried for him. Most guys get very upset when they're beat. But then it occurred to me that Frank isn't ever bothered by losing, so why shouldn't he compete?
"To start with, distance runners have a more ascetic mentality, the kind that the saints of the ancient church exhibited. But that doesn't mean we should ever make the mistake of feeling sorry for them. Why should we? After all, to feel good again all they have to do is stop. Now Frank's of this type, like all these sackcloth and ashes guys, but he can still have a lot of fun, too. Life is more important to Frank Shorter."
At Yale, the importance of life often meant skiing instead of training for track, and singing with a group known as The Bachelors. Shorter recalls with particular delight the memory of one spring vacation; guzzling a beer and waving to the track team bus from The Bachelors' station wagon as he headed for a week of close harmony, sun and fun in Florida. Shorter still keeps late hours and consumes quantities of beer, plus, as often as not, a couple of pops of gin every night. This drives certain track types crazy because, as Shorter phrases it, "I'm one of the first not to closet it," and there is a fear that his candor will turn thousands of innocent harriers into so many teenage tosspots.
Shorter's unremarkable track career was about to die a natural death, un-mourned, in the spring of 1969. This was his senior year at Yale, and he had several weeks to kill before a cursory exam and graduation. With time on his hands, he approached Giegengack one day and said, "Gieg, if I really worked at it, how good could I be?"
Without pausing for breath, the coach shot back, "Well, I think if you really applied yourself you could be very good. I think you could make the Olympics and even win a gold medal."
Shorter nodded and promptly began two-a-day workouts. A month later, he was the NCAA six-mile champion. And one thing led to another and so on and so forth, and three years later he won the gold.
Suppose Giegengack had not answered so positively? "Well, then," Shorter says, "I wouldn't have bothered. There are too many other things to do. I'd probably be an intern in some hospital somewhere right now."
Most people knock themselves out to obtain a solid base in life so that, often as not, they can then goof off. Shorter goes at it upside down. He arrives at most stations by the path of least resistance, almost by whimsy, but then, finding himself there, knocks himself out. Says Kenny Moore, a fellow Olympian, a good friend and the man who introduced Shorter to the marathon, "Frank does whatever he has to do, whatever is needed. Ultimately, he even won a gold medal that way. That may not make much sense unless you know him, but that's the way he is."
In prep school—Mount Hermon, in Mount Hermon, Mass.—Shorter decided, in the middle of his junior year, that he ought to improve his grades if he wanted to make the college of his choice. He was about 80th in his class then; he graduated third. Simply because he had to last year he went from West Berlin through East Germany to Poland on a packed train, without a ticket, negotiable currency or fluency in the local languages. It is worth noting that he was on his way to Warsaw to study Eastern European commercial law. At Yale, at the height of Vietnam and classified 1-A, Shorter would not watch the first draft lottery on TV, or even check the paper for his number. He says, "I had made up my mind that I wasn't going in—one way or another. So why bother?
"These things just work out for me. I've always been a good scrambler. I was always predicted to underachieve, but I always got by. If one approach doesn't work, I'll try another, and I have the confidence that it'll work out. And if you're living where you want to live, like I am, then it's easy to be satisfied with your work, with your life. I'm not iconoclastic or a misanthrope—nothing dramatic. I just get by. It's nothing complicated. But I guess it's just functionally impossible for the cafe mentality to comprehend my life."
He smiles. He has dimples and a disarming smile that go with the franchise. With dark curly hair and a slightly hooked nose, Shorter possesses something of a Gene Wilder aspect—but while Wilder always seems bewildered, Shorter appears curiously keen and on top of things. He has a small head on his emaciated runner's body which, by his own reckoning, is almost as big around as the right thighs on some of the football players at the University of Colorado, where he trains sometimes. His appearance is much improved since he shaved off the big bushy mustache he featured at Munich; it swallowed up his whole face. He looks younger now, although friends say he has matured—he has become "less eccentric," says Kenny Moore. Moore pauses a moment. "But say that right," he adds. "I always want to use gentle language with Frank because he is such a gentle person."
All right. Gentle and eccentric are not mutually exclusive. Shorter runs and sleeps, let us say, at will. To run virtually every day of your life means that you must run in airports, on highways, downtown. Shorter celebrated winning the gold medal in Munich by running five miles the next day and 15 the day after. He has often slept in luggage racks. Once, after an all-night party in Frankfurt, when a policeman refused to allow him and Moore to catnap on an airport bench, they went outside and located a plot of grass. Shorter took off his shirt, pulled his pajama top out of his suitcase, put it on, set his alarm clock down next to him on the grass, and he and Moore went to sleep for a few hours. When the alarm sounded, Shorter got up, took off his pajama top, put on his shirt, and he and Moore went to catch the plane. He gets by.
"I've always been able to work hard at what I was doing," Shorter says. "That's never been my problem. It's only a matter of making up my mind in the first place. Whenever I've made decisions, major decisions, it's just been a case of me getting up in the morning and sitting there on the bed and deciding, yes, I'll do this. Like that."
You mean, for example, that is the way you decided to marry Louise?
Louise (from across the room): "Yes, I'm sure."
Frank (nodding at her): "Oh, yes, And the running. That was the way I began to concentrate on the running...."
Frank and Louise Shorter live in Boulder, Colo., where she went to college. They love it because it is beautiful there, out of the way, and because it has good training facilities and high altitude. He grew up in the East, in Middletown, N.Y., but his father, a general practitioner, moved the family to Taos, N. Mex., where he became a missionary doctor ministering to Indians and Chicanos. Shorter figures he will eventually end up there. It has everything Boulder has except training facilities.
Frank and Louise and a mongrel puppy dog named Smokey live in a cottage in the hills beneath Flagstaff Mountain. They have been married six years and have no children, but it is apparent, from the way they carry on about the puppy, that they are ready to be parents. Everyone who knows the Shorters says that Louise has been very important to Frank. "I don't mind his running as long as we don't have to move around," she says. "I have all the material things that I need."
They dress in jeans and track suits, and the little house is unremarkably furnished, with track shoes always arrayed outside the front door, as if it were some kind of athletic Buddhist temple. They could not afford storm windows, so they taped up plastic sheets to keep out the cold wind. Part of the front yard has been torn up for a pea patch. It has been months since the Shorters have gone out for dinner. Frank was working part time as a lawyer in Boulder but gave that up in April to train round the clock. Louise is an unemployed librarian. They are living proof that you can't eat medals. No, you can't.
Of course, if Shorter was a resident of most other countries or played big-time U.S. sport, he would be pulling down six figures. But this does not bother him.
"I'm satisfied with the attention I've received," he says, "because it's more than I ever expected. Sure, it's nothing like the wealth and adulation a runner gets in another country, and maybe I go to bed every night subliminally agonizing why someone doesn't show up with a $500,000 no-cut contract, but I really don't think so, because there was never any reasonable expectation of that. I'm not like all those city kids on the blacktop and the sandlots who start off as children with the expectation that the game they are playing is going to make them lots of money."
But Shorter should not be blithely accepted as just another freewheeling long-distance freak. At the age of 17, in cold calculation, he selected Yale and track over Williams and skiing because he felt there were too many capricious variables in skiing. Why waste the effort to become the best if you could be beaten by a lesser man on a fluke? And he did not dedicate himself to track until he had an expert opinion that he had a reasonable chance at success. Shorter loves running as much as anyone, and he is not afraid to lose. But, it seems, he also is not afraid to win. Other runners had better times going into Munich. They do now, before Montreal. But Shorter has entered 12 marathons in his life and won nine, and of the three he lost, one was his first marathon, in which he dropped out after 10 miles because he wore borrowed shoes which caused him to develop blisters; the next was his second marathon, in which he was runner-up to Moore; and in the third he had an injured hamstring and came in fourth.
And Shorter is renowned for more than the marathon. He also excels in track events at distances ranging from two miles to 10,000 meters. He has run two miles in 8:26.2 (indoors) and three miles in 12:52, the equivalent of a 13:19 5,000, which he says could be his best time at any distance. Indeed, it is the twelfth-best time ever recorded; only seven men have run a faster 5,000. His personal record in the 10,000, in which he finished fifth in the Munich Olympics and was ranked second in the world in 1970 and 1975, is 27:46, the eighth-best time in the history of the event.
Very few world-class runners have shown comparable versatility. The most notable was Emil Zatopek, who won the 5,000, 10,000 and the marathon in the 1952 Games.
For all his put-downs of the Puritan ethic, Shorter devotes himself to running in much the same way as, say, an ambitious young attorney would pursue the practice of law. In some embarrassment Shorter reports how often his friends suggest he go into politics someday. This is not to say that in any way he misrepresents himself as a romantic. On the contrary, though few can pull it off, it is not against the law to have the best of both worlds. In a fascinating way, Shorter seems to have drawn strength from two generations: from his own passionate group that grew up in the turbulent '60s, and from the bunch in the '50s, who were more ambitious and detached.
He was at Yale during the Vietnam years when dreamy grown-ups, exemplified by Professor Charles Reich, were beatifying Shorter and his young contemporaries for leading us all to within a hairbreadth of the millennium with "the greening of America." Shorter, ever the scrambler, takes a somewhat less rosy view of his dear peers and the noble events of that time.
"We weren't any different. Just expedient," he says. "In the 1950s a guy would take a girl to a movie or football game, so that afterward he could take her back to his room and try to get her in bed. In my time, the '60s, a guy would take a girl to a peace rally or a march, so that afterward he could take her back to his room and try to get her in bed. Now the kids are going back to using the movies and the football games again, which means, of course, that they're nowhere near as idealistic as we were."
Certainly, Shorter, at 28, is influenced by the fact that he was among the last of the young men to grow up completely during the draft era, that time when all American boys came to maturity with the threat that they would either have to serve in the armed forces or figure a way to get out of it. It is impossible to calculate how greatly this imperative ordered the lives and minds of these young men, and still affects them. As long as the draft was there, it forced the best and the brightest of young Americans to be, well, scramblers.
Shorter himself went to medical school at the University of New Mexico after Yale, quickly dropped out when it interfered with his long-distance training and departed for Florida and a different discipline—law—one step ahead of Selective Service. Kids now feel obliged to rush into a vocation as soon as they leave college, but at that time, for those young graduates who escaped the Army, time was a gift to play around with. It was like finding two or three years in the street. Shorter took his two years and ran. He took a shot at Munich. And since things tend to work out for him, he won.
High spring has come to Boulder, and under the cloudless sky, in the mountain air soft and light, Shorter and his pals are getting ready for their big Sunday run. Twenty miles up and down the hills. As the cream of Boulder's long-distance runners assemble at the Shorters' they loll about, and Louise and Frank pass among them like houseparents. Soon, somebody says, "Hey, everybody's here! Let's go!" So did Mickey Rooney exclaim to Judy Garland, "Hey, we can put the show on right here!"
And off the little pack goes, up Lincoln Place toward Baseline, and then higher, over toward the Flagstaff foothills. One of the runners has brought his dog along, and he trails, a yelping rear guard. Another of the runners has brought his girl friend along, and she jogs with Louise some distance behind—squaws after the braves. Children and their dogs stop and stare as the strange little band passes.
Shorter has a clock in his head—virtually every mile he ran in the Munich marathon was a duplication of every other, each no more than a second or two off five minutes. Today he is setting a leisurely six-minute pace. For him, anything slower than a 5:30 mile is the equivalent of strolling for others. He can carry on a casual conversation at that pace, eat, drink, laugh, whatever, and never draw a deep breath.
Except for a fluke once, when a doctor built him a faulty shoe, causing him to break a small bone in his foot, Shorter has never really been injured. He is not even troubled by blisters, the bane of distance runners. He runs easily, lightly, erect, his legs churning out a perfect lazy circle, around and around, unlike, say, sprinters' legs, which describe more of a hasty parallelogram. The symmetry of Shorter is marred only by the fact that he is pigeon-toed, but this is hardly a drawback. Bob Hayes, once the world's fastest human, is so pigeon-toed that he removed the inside spikes from his shoes lest he spike himself.
At 133 pounds, Shorter is too skinny for real life. He figures he would put on 25 more if he stopped training. Just as many legally blind people have some vision, Shorter is, in effect, legally dead. At times his pulse is as low as 38. Like many long-distance runners, he suffers from hypoglycemia—low blood sugar. It is no surprise at all that Phidippides signed off when he did. The running body of a world-class marathoner burns about 100 calories a mile. The body can store no more than 1,200 calories of blood sugar and can supply 800 more from its own fats: 2,000 total. So there is only enough for the first 20 miles. Most runners would faint at this point if they did not take sustenance along the way.
Shorter says, "After 20 miles everybody slows down, and it is just a matter of trying to hold on. It's no longer a question of racing. In distance running, the definition of faster doesn't mean speed anyway, but just a matter of maintaining a pace longer. After 20 miles, the places are set unless a guy dies." Marathoners commonly use that verb instead of "collapse," "drop out," or whatever. They all say die.
It takes about a month to recover from a marathon. There is no specific way to prepare for it. The marathon runner just tries to run as many training miles as he can, and for people like Shorter the maximum has been about reached. There are only so many hours in a week. In the marathon, the most grueling of physical tests, psychological considerations have become increasingly significant.
"As any race goes up, the mental aspect becomes more important," Shorter says. "To start with, you can't go out and get psyched up for the thing. The best way to prepare emotionally is to be very calm, almost back into it." At Munich, the favorite was Ron Hill, the Englishman, but when the massacre of the Israelis forced the race back a day, Hill was pitched so high he could not cope emotionally with the change in schedule and came in sixth. Jack Fultz, who won this year's Boston Marathon in a heat wave, said afterward that many of the contenders seemed to have done themselves in before the race began, fretting about the heat.
The best runners are those that attend strictly to business once they are on the course. The less successful long-distance men tend to be those who "disassociate," who admire the scenery or who let their minds wander. By contrast, Shorter cannot even recall running through two beautiful parks in Munich. All the time he is running, he is busy concentrating on strategy—how the race is shaping up, his form and rhythm; indeed, he uses the word "feedback" as if his own body were a foreign object he was studying. But then, we all know time just flies when you're having fun. Instead of two hours and a quarter—to be precise, 2:12:19.8 in Munich, the second-fastest Olympic marathon—it hardly seems like 45 minutes to Shorter.
"It's like reading a good book," he says. "After a while you're not really conscious of reading. It's just images racing through your head. It is the same with running the marathon. People always ask me why I do it. Well, I'm good at it, and we do the things we excel at. But, also, I just like being out there. I like it better than anything else I've ever done. I like being able to think about it as I go along. I get so seriously involved with the race, with what my body is doing, I don't have time to notice things around me."
You have more than two hours.
"I don't have the time."
Despite the overriding issue of stamina, a marathon is not devoid of strategy. The matter of the lead is crucial, for the man in front carries an emotional burden. The runners-up dogging his footsteps may be moving exactly as fast, expending exactly as much energy, but somehow the man out front assumes a great burden. The others wear down, but the man in the lead is torn apart.
"Psychologically, we are using the leader not unlike the way automobile drivers use the physical principle of drafting," Shorter says. "If the man in front cannot break away, he will eventually get caught. I cannot tell you exactly why, but I can promise you that it will happen. Therefore, if I am in a position to take the lead, I know that I must be capable of more than that. Once I've committed myself on the lead, I have to quickly pull away, break that mental contact—if just by five or 10 yards—so that the others can't use me to get drawn along."
Shorter gained a psychological edge at Munich because the course was laid out around a lot of corners. Thus, even though he may have been no more than 100 yards or so in front—he took the lead after nine miles—his pursuers couldn't see him and despaired that he was beyond reach.
It always comes back to this: Why in the world would anyone want to run long distances? Well, as Shorter says, they just like to. Or, why not? As Mrs. Campbell, Shaw's good friend, once suggested about another sort of activity, you can do anything you please so long as you don't frighten the horses. It is not the long-distance runners' fault that they often inflame hostile passions in our car-dependent citizenry.
We should even, perhaps, forgive the everyday runners who tend to be so boring. "Oh, those guys who make a cult out of running—it ruins the whole thing to take it so seriously," Shorter says. But we should be kind, for these less accomplished runners have no chance at gold medals to justify their masochism. Shorter, having won the gold medal, is justified (his word this time) in the eyes of society. But then, that makes him all the stranger for keeping at it. It also suggests that just as you can't eat medals, neither can you run long distances for them. You can only run to run. The legs go first, they always say of athletes. In long-distance running, reason does.
Shorter says, "I'm not altogether sure it's the running per se that fills a need in me. It's more like there's a drive in me that has to be satisfied and running manages that now. Next year, though, it could be skiing or something else." He shrugs. "But I do know this. You can feel a sense of accomplishment every day that you run. You have the tangible sense of doing something significant. Running long distance has been called compulsive and addictive, and sometimes I think it's even a sensual experience, or a religious one. Everybody wants me to talk about it, but I really don't like to. Besides, I suspect there are different reasons for running for different runners.
"Right now I expect to stop after the Olympics. I expect that now." He pauses and looks away. "But if I can't bring myself to do that, then we'll know for sure what running is to me, won't we? We'll know it's become a compulsion, because the sure sign of obsessive compulsion is an inability to make a decision." He seemed quite sure about the definition and not so sure about himself.
Another time, from out of the blue and from across the room, Louise looked up and said, "You know, Frank, when I'm lying in bed next to you, I can tell when you're thinking about running."
He flushed and began to protest that she should not reveal the intimacies of their marriage bed. But she had already begun. "Oh, I can always tell," Louise said. "It doesn't matter whether you're asleep or awake. I can sense it whenever you're thinking about running. You begin to sweat, and your legs...." Her voice trailed off. He looked at her and nodded and understood that it was not intimacies she was revealing but more about Frank Shorter. It ruins the whole thing to take it so seriously.
He is a Yale man, clever, organized, rational, perceptive and confident, except now there is this one thing within him that he does not appear to be in control of anymore.