City in Heat! Sexual Panic Seizes Rudy and Mr. Big

“We call this place the zone,” the friend says. She’s staring at Carrie.

Carrie thinks she actually knows what she’s talking about, what this “zone” is, and why they’re suddenly all in it together.

“Why don’t you come and live with us in the zone?” Ra asks.

“I’d like to,” Carrie says, meaning it but also thinking, I’ve got to get home.

She rides uptown, but before she gets home she says, “Stop the cab.” She actually gets out and walks. She’s still thinking, I’ve got to get home. The city is hot. She feels powerful. A predator. A woman is walking down the sidewalk a few feet in front of her. She’s wearing a loose white shirt, like a white flag, it’s driving Carrie crazy. Suddenly Carrie feels like a shark smelling blood. She fantasizes about killing the woman and eating her. It’s terrifying how much she’s enjoying the fantasy.

The woman has no idea she’s being stalked. She’s oblivious, jiggling along the sidewalk. Carrie envisions tearing into the woman’s soft white flesh with her teeth. It’s the woman’s own fault … she should lose weight … or something. Carrie stops and turns into her building.

“Good evening, Miss Carrie,” says the doorman.

“Good evening, Carlos,” Carrie says.

“Everything O.K.?”

“Oh yes, everything is fine.”

“Good night now,” Carlos says, sticking his head around the open door of the elevator. He smiles.

“Good night, Carlos.” She smiles back, showing all of her teeth.

The Crackup

By the 10th day of the heat wave, Carrie is too attached to Mr. Big. Way too attached. That was the night that she had her breakdown. It started fine: Mr. Big went out alone to a business dinner. No problem at first. She went to her girlfriend Miranda’s. They were going to sit in the air-conditioning and watch taped segments of Ab Fab. But then they started drinking. It continued from there. Carrie hadn’t seen Miranda for a while because she’d been busy with Mr. Big, so Miranda started in on her.

“I’d like to meet him, you know. Why haven’t I met him? Why haven’t I seen you?” Then she drops the bomb. Miranda said she knows some girl who was dating Mr. Big during the first month he was dating Carrie.

“I thought he only saw her once,” Carrie said.

“Oh, no. They saw each other several times. Se-ver-al. That’s why I didn’t call you for a whole month. I didn’t know whether to tell you or not.”

The next morning after the freakout, when Carrie was lying in Mr. Big’s bed, she tried to think about what she really wanted. Life felt like it had changed, but had it really? She thinks: She’s still not married. She still doesn’t have kids. Will it ever happen?

When?

It’s the zone or Mr. Big, she thinks. The zone or Mr. Big.

That afternoon, Mr. Big sends her flowers. The card reads: Everything will be O.K. Love, Mr. Big.

“Why did you send me flowers?” Carrie asks him later. “That was so sweet.”

“I wanted you to know that somebody loved you,” Mr. Big says.

A couple of days later, on the weekend, Carrie and Mr. Big go to his house in Westchester, so Mr. Big can play golf. He leaves in the morning, early. Carrie gets up late, makes coffee. She goes outside and walks around the yard. She walks to the end of the street. Walks back. Goes back inside the house and sits down.

“Now what am I going to do?” she thinks, and tries to imagine Mr. Big on the golf course, swatting golf balls impossible distances.

 

Candace Bushnell began Sex and the City as a column in The New York Observer in 1994; it subsequently became a book and a series on HBO. She is also the author of Four Blondes, Trading Up and Lipstick Jungle, which is being filmed as a pilot for NBC starring Brooke Shields. Ms. Bushnell is also the host of Sex, Success and Sensibility, a live weekly talk show on Sirius Satellite Radio. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, New York City Ballet principal dancer Charles Askegard.