Thursday, April 23, 2020

the last book I ever read (The Sweet Science by A. J. Liebling, excerpt four)

from The Sweet Science by A. J. Liebling:

The “ringside” seats, which covered the baseball diamond and reached well into the outfield, were for the most empty at that stage of the evening. They filled slowly; many of the people who buy them do not much like boxing but go to big fights so that they can talk about them afterward, and they seldom arrive before the main bout. But I knew they would be along; this was something you had to see, like Guys and Dolls or a van Gogh show at the Metropolitan. Midway through the preliminaries, hundreds of young hoodlums in Hawaiian shirts, all of whom had clearly come in on general admission—unless they had scaled the fence—dashed down the aisles of the stands in back of third base, vaulted the wire barriers with admirable ease, and hurtled onto the field, racing to occupy empty ringside seats. It was a concerted break, and there weren’t nearly enough special cops to stop them. Once in a seat, each of these fellows would try to avoid attention until the rightful ticket holder arrived, upon which, after a conversational delaying action, the interloper would move to another empty seat, continuing to move until the lights went out for the main bout. Then, if evicted again, he would squat in an aisle. The specials were flushing them all through the show, in a succession of comedy chases. The rush, because it was so concerted, did not amuse me; in a previous decade and in other circumstances, the louts might have been wearing black or brown shirts, I thought, and a time might come when they would be again. The night was sweating hot.

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