Second 1. I see Philip Roth in the lobby of the Fisk Building. Philip Roth looks exactly like he does in pictures. Exactly. He's got long, skinny legs, but not in that rice-papery old man way, more like in a ropy, insouciant Alexander Portnoy kind of way.
Second 2. Entering from a hallway on the left, an older woman with a halo of gray hair calls out "Philip! Philip!" Philip Roth, who has been looking straight at me, so much so that I wonder if he knows that I am the one that is hand-delivering his special package, turns to look behind him.
Seconds 3-6. Philip Roth recognizes the older woman. He embraces her, kisses her on the cheek, exclaims, "You are never on time. Never." She says, "I recognized you by the back of your head!"
I'm wondering who this woman is. I'm also wondering if Philip Roth is mad at her, and if he's going to fly all off the handle like his ex-wife said he used to in that book she wrote. I'm also wondering how long he's going to talk to her, because I'm stuck in the shiny marble lobby of the Fisk Building holding a manila envelope and looking like a dumbass.
Second 7. "Three thirty!" Philip Roth exclaims. "I have to go."
Second 8. Philip Roth taps the older woman on both shoulders, and turns towards the revolving doors. He's moving quickly.
Seconds 9-14. "This is for you!" I say. Should I grab his arm? Should I call him Philip? Mr. Roth? "This is for you!"
Philip Roth turns his head. He looks confused.
"I brought this for you! From [insert name of publishing company here]. From [insert name of boss here]!!!"
This is when I realize that I don't know what is in the package.
Philip Roth takes the manila envelope from me, along with the memo listing the address of [insert name of prominent literary agency here, the lobby of which I am standing in and the address of which I should have been able to memorize by now]. He looks down at the memo. I shouldn't have handed that to him. I am kicking myself.
"This is what?" he says.
He arches an eyebrow at me.
"From [insert publishing company name here]. They said you were leaving. And so they sent me to catch you."
His face relaxes. "Oh," Philip Roth says.
He seems nice. I am surprised by this. His voice is also higher-pitched than I would have expected; for some reason I had assumed that Philip Roth would have a growly voice.
"Looks like I got here right on time," I say.
"Yes," says Philip Roth. "Thank you. And will you—will you tell the people...upstairs that you gave this to me?"
"Of course," I say.
"Great," says Philip Roth. "Thanks again."
Second 15. Philip Roth is loping towards the door. His shirt, I notice, appears to be a soft, wheat-colored linen.
On the way back from my adventure, I wrote a poem based on my writerly observations of the mid-afternoon tourist crowd at Mickey Mantle's:
There is no sight more lonely than that of a single pig-in-a-blanket, burnt crisp and uneaten on a bone-white china plate.