You've gotta admit, formerly trapped Chilean miner Edison Peña has been doing a great job in his publicity tour of New York so far. He's appeared multiple times in both of our tabloids, in spreads that feature pictures of him underground, looking sweaty and studly, running through tunnels with mining equipment strapped to his back like some sort of mutant mole meets Rocky. He was thronged at yesterday's press conference put on by the New York Road Runners, during which he talked about his plans to run the ING New York City Marathon on Sunday. And then last night he pulled off a real coup, appearing on Letterman and — despite a language barrier — spurring Paul Shaffer to spontaneously accompany him in a (fitting) rendition of Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds." ("I'm caught in a trap," seemed to be the only lyrics he got quite right — see video below.) So what could possible go wrong?
What Peña has underestimated is the high bar that Americans, and New Yorkers in particular, have set for themselves when it comes to miracles. This is a city where planes plummet from the sky into icy rivers and nobody dies, after all. Yes, Edison, you lived through one miracle when you survived 69 days trapped underground in a copper mine. But that was back in Chile. Once your hype reaches a certain level, people are going to want a whole new American miracle, one we can claim for our very own. The media drumroll, in fact, has already started.
Less than a month ago this guy was running three to six miles underground. On Sunday we expect him to finish a 26.2-mile race? And, if we're being honest, we sort of want him to do really well at it, too. Like, not win it, but definitely place somewhere after the international superstars and before the pretty people with Equinox memberships.
But let's all take a deep breath, and instead not put too much pressure on the guy. He's had a really tough few months, and is already a victor for being so funny about the whole thing. Let's cheer him on from the side of the road, and give him a big round of applause when he stops running, even if it's only one-quarter of the way through.
And if he does finish? Well, then let's definitely all start sobbing and go down about 30 pisco sours. It's all about expectation versus payoff.