NEW YORK — The guest of honor at the $350-a-plate Midtown gala rose early at The Plaza Hotel, bent on taking a clarifying walk through Central Park and enjoying breakfast beneath the chandelier in his sumptuous guest room.
The city as ever had electrified his senses, but his schedule had been packed — an appearance on Harry Connick Jr.’s TV show, dinners with old friends, publishing meetings to review the sales and book-tour plans for his forthcoming roman à clef — and by the third day the crowds, the noise, and a startling encounter with a hissing cat had jangled his nerves just a bit. He craved the comparative calm and greenery of his Cambridge home turf. Plus, he needed to run through his speech once more.
As if he could forget. One of his handlers, Jessica Kensky, had gently reminded him twice already that morning, and the other, Patrick Downes, suggested that his delivery still needed a little work. A thinner-skinned star might have snapped, but he loved these two, and he was a carefully trained professional. So he sat before them, his long-lashed brown eyes open wide with anticipation, his tail curled to the left behind him.