In last Sunday’s New York Times, Jodi Kantor pointed out that the Anthony Weiner scandal resembles a Philip Roth novel. And it does! But the man has written more than two dozen books — let’s get more specific. Here’s how it might look if the Anthony Weiner scandal were written by…
The Young Philip Roth
Only after the reporters have left, trailing photographers with their light-poles and blotting papers (oh yes, a new man, chastened, changed), only then does the muscled tyrant behind my zipper, like a sleeping drunk flicking open a single eyelid at some new disturbance — only then does he whisper into my changed ear that, one room away, as close as my computer, is a girl like a freshly plucked dryer sheet, whose tits gaze ever-upward, whose underwear one could, with a splayed palm, lift to find fuzz as soft as lint.
“I need to make a quick phone call!”
“Now?” says Huma. “But it’s Sunday night! The Good Wife is on!”
How many commercial-broken hours have I spent sighing in the depths of our $7,000 sectional, as penitent as any choirboy, clutching through the peephole of my pocket at the rosary beads that are my balls, counting the minutes until Huma emits the evening’s first snore, when I can look over to find on her face the same slack-jawed expression that my father would wear, sprawled in his ergonomic lounger in front of the Mets, the sports page trailing from his twitching fingers…
“Can you chat? I only have a couple of minutes.” These hands that have shaken the hands of presidents, that have pounded podiums, that have clipped ribbons and signed autographs — these hands are now pressing shut my office door, trembling with longing, tugging at buckles and buttons and zippers.
And then just as Sydney peels her white shirt over her head — from the bedroom, milk-stained, comes Huma’s voice, thick with fury and exhaustion. “Anthony, I need your help!” While Sydney bends the littlest bit forward, the better to pinch like radio dials her goyisch tits, and while I type, my left hand jabbing blindly while my right hand, gnarled like an arthritic claw around a broomstick…
I want to grab your hair and pull your head —
“Anthony! Get in here!”
I want to press your thighs apart and shove my tongue —
“Anthony! I need your help! Jordan is sick!”
I’m going to cover your perfect belly with my —
“He’s throwing up! It’s all over me! Get in here now!”
The Old Philip Roth
He had never before visited such a site, save for a few dateless college evenings — and, it seemed, in the full flowering of his arrival in Washington, that he would never need to. Women with $200 haircuts passed him their numbers, along with the most sordid invitations. The free drinks. The hotel rooms. The sheer bounty of women, such that he had, on multiple occasions, to refer to the notebook he kept tucked in the inner pocket of his hand-tailored suit. Kathleen - blonde hair, 31, likes to ski. Jessica - wing tattoo, 29, vodka cranberry. Endlessness, bliss, all copied down in the same cramped script with which he had once, seated in the front row of a classroom at Temple Shalom, written down the Ten Commandments.
But then Seth — his brilliant, blustering, golden-tongued, ever-in-motion, ever-laughing brother — stepped one day off a curb in Alexandria and was struck by the car that blew apart their lives.
Anthony’s father, who bestrode the kitchen like a colossus, who had never met a tomato sauce that wasn’t in need of one little pinch of something, who used to invite the boys to punch him, punch him as hard as they could, right in his barrel of a chest — now he sat slumped in his chair like a marionette with cut strings. To the questions that had once compelled him — the questions that had once been the marrow of his life — he could muster no more than a shrug. “Do you want me to turn on the Mets?” “Did you read the story in the paper about that schmuck Giuliani?” The words were like fingers probing a corpse — which, he left no doubt, is precisely what he would most have liked to become, if only it didn’t mean hauling himself out of his chair.
How, after visiting this house that had become a morgue, was he meant to refuse the invitations blinking from the depths of his computer? How, when his life consisted of little more than tears and birthing classes and sleeping pills, could he deny the stubborn optimism of his libido? What part of him, other than his faithful cock, could think of a reason to get up in the morning?