Howard couldn't reach you and will be out of contact for a few days. I'm supposed to tell you that: *rustles a bit of paper and reads*
"You should be receiving a package from him today, and you'll need to be there to sign for *significant pause* ...it."
That, combined with Howard's timely absence, has me a bit curious as to what he's sending along for your birthday this year.
Perhaps you should make the best use of the few hours before it arrives.