"Aaar yough ahnofuh aboogie?" says the Russian with the big head for the third time.
I squint my eyes at him, like that???ll make me understand him better. "The. Joey. Reynolds. Show," I say, also for the third time.
Finally, he takes his clipboard from the passenger seat and points at a scribble that seems to read 111 Plaza, or something like that, which is when I realize that I???ve cleverly left my itinerary up in the apartment and have zero recollection of what the address is that I???m supposed to be taken to. So in a very mature and New Yorky fashion, I shrug. Say it again. "The. Joey. Reynolds. Show. Harcourt. Interview. Jen Trynin," as if I???m typing this into a Google search.
Something about all those words strung together makes him pop the trunk, into which I sling my guitar. Then he opens his door and squeezes himself out of the car, opening my door and saying something I don???t understand which I interpret as, "Get in."
We drive. Fast. Silent. Just me and the Russian. Whisking through Manhattan to somewhere I hope is going to end up being The Joey Reynolds Show.
We arrive at a big old beautiful building, colored tan with wide steps leading to glass doors. The Russian pops the trunk again and we both step out into the cold, empty street. I grab my guitar. He slams shut the trunk. Then he says, "Back?"
"Back? Like come back?" I say, my heart beginning to pound. "I???m coming back, yes. Yes. I mean, they told you to wait for me, right?" The Russian reaches for his clipboard. Looks at it. Looks at me.
"How long you back?"
"How long I back?" Pound pound pound. "I???m not sure. I mean, I think like in an hour and a half. Like 3:10, maybe 3:15." I look at the Russian. The Russian looks at me. Pound pound. "Listen," I say. "I kind of need you. The fact is there???s nothing standing between me and oblivion except for you. You???ve got to wait for me. Please wait for me," and here I smile. Or I try to smile because I kind of feel like crying. My lip trembles. The Russian smiles. Tosses his clipboard into the car.
"K, K," he says. "I wait. I here, you."
Inside the shiny marble lobby is a young black guy sitting behind a very high desk. He smiles in a nice, surprisingly unbleary-eyed way, like it???s really the middle of the day. Of course, what I???m imagining is that when I say I???m here for the radio show, he???s going to say What radio show? And then I???m going to high-tail it back out to the Russian who, naturally, will no longer be there, and when I return and ask the desk guy to call me a cab, he???ll stand and open his mouth really wide, pointing at me frantically and making that excruciating high-pitched-while-also-barking-sounding scream from Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
"I???m here for The Joey Reynolds Show?" I say.
"Sure," says the desk guy. "Just sign in."
I sign in.
"Third elevator to your left, floor nine," he says, pointing down a long empty hallway.
On floor nine, the elevator doors open into an empty room with stark overhead lighting and doors to the left and right, and straight ahead are glass doors leading into another room, also empty, with a desk, two chairs, and a small white couch which has seen better and whiter days. There???s a small plant in one corner (the kind that looks like a little tree, but half the plant has been split off and is drooping towards the floor), and taped to the outer glass door is a piece of paper which says (in black Sharpie) that if you???re here for the JR show, to dial 115 on the phone on the wall.
It???s 1:35 am, and here I am, some middle-aged white broad standing by herself in some old building waaaaaaaaaay downtown with nothing to potentially protect her but a Big Russian down in the street and an old acoustic guitar with a hardshell case.
I find the phone and dial 115.
Fantastic. No one???s even going to ?
"YEAH?" yells a woman???s voice.
"I???m Jen Trynin, here for the ?"
A moment later, a short plump girl donning a backwards baseball cap and dimples pops through one of the doors. "Welcome to The Joey Reynolds Show," she says, and rolls her eyes.
"Okay," I say.
"Need anything?" she says. "Water? That???s all we really got. I could scrounge for a Coke, maybe."
"I???m good," I say.
She looks at my guitar. "Gonna play us a song?" she says.
"If you want me to," I say. "No pressure. I don???t care, but I usually bring my guitar to these sorts of things, cuz I wrote a book about, you know, my days as a B-level rock star."
"Sure you did," she says. She looks up at the clock on the wall, then back at me. "Just take a seat, make yourself comfortable." She points to the small white couch that???s seen better days. "I???ll be back out for you in twenty, maybe twenty-five." I look at the couch. Back at her. "Don???t worry," she says. "Nothing???s gonna bite you. It???s gonna be fun, right? Woohoo," she yells and twirls her finger in the air. Then she disappears back through the doorway from whence she came. So I sit on the "white" couch and stare at the wall, thinking about its whiteness, its almost whiteness, its off-whiteness in that same unsettling way as our kitchen ? our kitchen, which suddenly seems like the most inviting place in earth with its cashews, Ginger ale, coffee, and ugly wood table that just fits.
The big clock on the wall ticks from 1:37 to 1:39.
TUNE IN TOMORROW FOR THE ACTUAL JOEY REYNOLDS "INTERVIEW"! (Are we having fun yet?)