“The next morning, I started in. ‘Don’t you think you should lose a little weight?’
“After that, everything about Dudley began to drive me crazy. His silly flashy clothing. The way he acted like everyone was his best friend. The hair on the back of his hands. His smell.
“Each morning, I forced him to get on the scale. I would monitor his food intake. He actually did lose 10 pounds, but then gained it all back plus some. By December, he weighed 270 pounds. One night, we were at one of those family restaurants in Nantucket, and Dudley ordered the surf’n’turf for two and ate the whole thing.
“I should have ended it right there, but Christmas was two weeks away. On Christmas Eve, Dudley officially asked me to marry him, with an eight-carat ring, in front of my whole family. In typical Dudley fashion, he dropped the ring, unbeknownst to me, into my glass of champagne, and I nearly choked on it. Still, I said Yes.
“I don’t know if you’ve ever been engaged to the wrong person, but once it happens, it’s like being on a freight train you can’t stop. There were the rounds of Park Avenue parties, little dinners at Mortimer’s and Le Relais. Women I hardly knew had heard about the ring and begged to see it. ‘He’s such a great guy,’ everyone said.
“‘Yes, he is,’ I’d reply. And inside, I felt like a shitheel.
‘I Can’t Do This’
“And then the day came when I was supposed to move into our newly bought, perfectly furnished two-bedroom apartment on East 72nd Street. My boxes were packed and the movers were downstairs when I called Dudley.
“‘I can’t do this,’ I said.
“‘Can’t do what?’ he asked.
I hung up.
Dudley called back. He came over. He left. His friends called. I went out, and went on a bender. Dudley’s Upper East Side friends sharpened their knives. They made stuff up: I was spotted at someone’s house at 4 in the morning wearing only cowboy boots. I’d given another guy a blowjob at a club. I was trying to pawn the engagement ring. I was a gold digger. I’d taken Dudley for a ride.
“There is no good way to end these things. I moved into a tiny studio apartment in a dirty walk-up on Second, which I could actually afford myself, and started working on my career. Things got worse for Dudley. The real estate market crashed, and Dudley’s family suffered. Dudley couldn’t afford the new apartment, couldn’t sell it. It was all my fault. Dudley left town. Also, my fault.
“Everyone forgets that the three years after that were hell for me. Pure hell. Even though I had no money and had to eat hot dogs on the street and was suicidal half the time—I once actually called the suicide hot line, but then someone beeped in inviting me to a party—I vowed I’d never get into that situation again. Never take another penny from any man. It’s terrible to hurt someone like that.”
“But do you really think that it was because of the way he looked?” Carrie asked.
“I’ve been thinking about that. And the one thing I forgot to mention is that every time I got into the car with him, I fell asleep. I literally couldn’t keep my eyes open. The truth is, he bored me.”
Maybe it was all the champagne, but Bunny laughed a little uncertainly. “Isn’t that just awful?” she said.
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.