[Ed. note: this article was originally published on August 21st, 1995]
The city’s in heat. Days of 90-plus-degree weather strung together one after the other. Everyone is cranky. No one can work. Women wear almost nothing. August is the month New Yorkers think about sex more than all the other 11 months combined. Everyone is amorous—even the Mayor and his lovely wife, Donna, who embraced on WNBC on Aug. 10 at 6:45 A.M., while most of New York was still sleeping. The papers duly reported that the Mayor’s wife was “beaming.”
New York—meaning Manhattan, not the Hamptons, which, thanks to the ocean breezes and chilly social caste system, cannot be said to ever truly be in heat—is a completely different city in August. Like living in some South American country with a corrupt and drunk dictator, skyrocketing inflation, drug cartels, dust-covered roads, clogged plumbing—where nothing will ever get better, the rains will never come, so might as well turn off the air-conditioner and have some fun.
But underneath the fierce exterior, the psyche of most New Yorkers is fragile. It cracks under the heat. Bad thoughts and bad feelings bubble to the surface. They lead to bad behavior, the kind New Yorkers specialize in. It’s secretive. It’s nasty. Relationships break up. People who shouldn’t be together get together.
In the heat, you can’t trust anyone, especially yourself.
“Carrie,” is lying in Mr. Big’s bed at 8 A.M. She believes she is not going to be O.K. In fact, she is pretty damn sure that she is not going to be O.K. She’s crying hysterically into the pillow.
“Carrie. Calm down. Calm down,” Mr. Big orders. She rolls over and her face is a grotesque, blotchy mask.
“You’re going to be O.K. I have to go to work now. Right now.” It’s 8:30. “You’re keeping me from work.”
“Can you help me?” Carrie asks.
“No,” he says, sliding his gold cufflinks through the holes of starched cuffs. “You have to help yourself. Figure it out.”
Carrie puts her head under the covers still crying. “Call me in a couple of hours,” he says, then walks out of the room. “Goodbye.”
Two minutes later, he comes back. “I forgot my cigar case,” he says, watching her as he crosses the room. She’s quiet now.
“Goodbye,” he says. “Goodbye. Goodbye.”
It’s the 10th day in a row of suffocating heat and humidity.
Mr. Big’s Heat Ritual
Carrie has been spending too much time with Mr. Big. He has air-conditioning. She does, too, but hers doesn’t work. They develop a little ritual. A heat ritual. Every evening at 11, if they haven’t been out together, Mr. Big calls.
“How’s your apartment?” he asks.
“Hot,” she says.
“What are you doing then?”
“Do you want to come over and sleep here?” he asks, almost a little shyly.
“Sure, why not,” she says. She yawns.