Saturday, February 13, 2010

Philip Roth (Part 2)

When Mr. Roth finishes conferring with the usher, he steps into the shadows of one of the theater entrances while the usher walks towards us. He explains that although we have no obligation to cede our tickets to Mr. Roth, he is disappointed to learn that we are canceling the arrangement we had made with him without explanation. I reply that we have made no such arrangement, that it was only for the one night. The usher, however, wants to know why we had not objected when Mr. Roth showed up in our seats a second time. To the usher and Mr. Roth, it seemed, we were acting out an implicit agreement to trade seats for the entire series when we allowed the switch to continue. When I suggest that this doesn't make any sense, the usher responds that this is about common courtesy, not making sense. At that point, I twist my face into a bewildered expression and am on the verge of saying something profane when the usher warns me not to become hostile, that he would have to ask us to leave if I made a scene. I am now so exasperated I can barely speak in sentences. I begin to sputter and babble almost incomprehensibly but with an elevated volume which the usher takes as a threat.

"I really am going to have to ask you to leave," the usher indicates in a low but solemn tone and as he says this he motions to Mr. Roth and his companion that it is now okay for them to occupy our seats. Karen can't believe what is happening and herself begins to sputter and fume. The usher moves swiftly now, sensing an even greater threat, and before we understand what is happening, find ourselves deposited on Broadway with no tickets to re-enter the Hall. When we go up to the box office to express our dismay about this whole situation, we are told that management always reserves the right to eject disruptive patrons. We shout that we never became disruptive, which prompts the cashier to say that we have already crossed that line. He then turns away from us and invites the next customer to step up.

Crazed now with anger and frustration, I cry out that this is like some kind of surrealistic novel. I grab the first policeman on the street that I can find to recount our dilemma. I speak rapidly and as I tell my story my voice grows shrill and desperate. The police officer, of course, can do nothing about what has happened in Lincoln Center, but he regards my ire as both suspicious and dangerous. Even as I continue to register my complaint, I can tell he is deaf to my words and focuses instead on my somewhat hysterical manner.

"Sir," he intervenes calmly, "I think you would be much better off telling this whole story to the Sergeant down at the precinct station. Come along with me. We can be there in five minutes." When Karen objects, the police officer puts her off and explains that I need to go alone. I will have the chance to call her later. As the police car pulls away, I see the worried look on Karen's face and wonder if she can make out the terror on mine.(To be Continued)


  1. Knowing that you are obviously not in jail (unless you can blog from Rikers) we can think of several explanations as to why this may be happenning...Could Roth be collaborating with Larry David on a Lincoln Center reality TV show..Perhaps new material for a novel? Paul and I are on edge...wanting to know what happens!!!!!
    We hope the story ends with first row season tickets for you and Karen!!

  2. Thank you, Katia. Yes, it is true, this is all in my imagination, though Mr. Roth does show up at EVERY chamber music concert we attend. Stay tuned for the next two installments in which all of this is, more or less, resolved.