The official at the marble race held the green flag that would, when waved, signify the beginning of the contest.
“On your dents!”
“Roll!” he shouted as he waved the flag.
Now the marble handlers, having been poised with their hands against their marbles and their feet against the plastic, pushed with all of their considerable strength. Each marble seemed to heave itself from its restraint and find the freedom to pursue an inevitable surrender to gravity.
The first part of the course was yellow and it formed a funnel. This was a good chance to get ahead - a marble with any sense would try to find a way to cut to the inside and get down the hole in front of its competitors. But none seemed to have any, and so the deafening noise of the circling marbles continued for several long seconds.
The next few segments of the course were straights with curves at the ends, or they were jagged-straights that produced knocking sounds when the marbles passed through. In either case, there was no opportunity for passing.
Eventually the marbles would face a Y-junction - from their perspective, an upside-down Y. Now what? Which way was the way to victory lane? The handlers still at the top of the course could tell, but the marbles were bereft of sense and of agency. Some hit the gore between the legs of the Y and bounced left, but some bounced right.
Left was the way to victory! A few wheels and funnels and loop-the-loops later and six lucky marbles found their places: 1 red, 2 green, 3 blue, 4 cherry, 5 orange, 6 yellow. A few latecomers accumulated around the now-occupied finishing holes. No points for them today.
The marbles that went right ended up rolling down a chute with a jump at the end. By going off the course, they would be eliminated from competing in future races and would have to wait for the next season to chase the Roller Cup, provided they hadn’t already won enough points in the previous races to win it all (this hadn’t been the case for an eliminated marble yet but it remained a theoretical possibility). But one plucky marble forever endeared itself to the racing community when it managed to land on the POWER button of the remote control that lay on the floor. The handlers rejoiced - they could finally watch Family Guy.
The three words were: marble, flag, remote control.