I was trying to make a good impression and sound mildly intelligent, so I started talking about French critical theory. This was definitely a gamble since I don’t actually know anything about French critical theory. Had I read “The Dying Animal” before I met Roth, I would have known this was a colossal waste of time. But I hadn’t read “The Dying Animal” before I met Roth because I hadn’t read anything by Roth before I met him. As it turned out, it didn’t really matter what I was talking about because Philip Roth spent the vast majority of the time I was with him alternately talking about his great love for cherries and staring at my tits.
While I was droning on about the great French feminist philosopher Monique Wittig, who is both famous and obscure enough that I thought I could get away with it, Philip Roth interrupted me, “I have a question for you.”
I was already formulating my answer. Yes, Mr. Roth, of course, I would be thrilled to have you write the foreword of my next book. I look at him expectantly, the way I imagine a dog would look at its owner right before the owner is about to fill its bowl with food. I was anticipating a very serious literary question.
Roth said, “Do you like cherries?”
Trying not to skip a beat, I licked my lips and batted my eyelashes. “Who doesn’t like cherries?” I asked as I smiled sweetly.
Roth got a devilish twinkle in his eye, “Would you like to taste one of my cherries?”
He pierced a cherry with his fork. I opened my mouth, and Philip Roth, one of the greatest writers maybe ever, popped a cherry into my mouth.
“Mmmmm,” I said, as I smiled at him, “Delicious!”
It was actually revolting. The cherries were preserved in some heavy, sugary red liquid. They tasted like cough syrup. But hey, who was I to ruin an old man’s good time?