New York City, August 1994
From My Tiny Life, 1998

Times Square Subway Station
You are underground. Concrete beneath your
 feet, above your head; an orchard of I-beam
 columns all around you. Smell of ozone in
 the air and naked bulbs throwing hard
 electric light all over everything. You can
 catch the N and R trains here. Go upstairs
 to transfer to the 1, 2, 3, 9, or crosstown
You see The Madding Crowd here.
Jessica and The_Author are here.
It's like a frickin' sauna here.

The Madding Crowd mutters and mills.

look crowd

The Madding Crowd
What the fuck are _you_ looking at?

Jessica sweats.

The_Author sweats a lot.

The_Author looks impatiently up the tracks.

Jessica says, "Can't wait to get home to the
 MOO, huh?"

The_Author chuckles mirthlessly, still
 looking up the tracks.

The Madding Crowd rumbles and roils.

Jessica says, "And how's your love life
 coming along anyway?"

The_Author turns and raises an eyebrow.

The_Author says, "My _what?_"

Jessica says, "Your love life. Any action
 there? Anything I should know about?"

The_Author feels his teeth clench and his
 temperature rise.

The_Author says, "Look. I _told_ you. I will
 _not_ be having any love affairs on the MOO.
 If I have netsex at all, it's only going to
 be so I can see what it's like. It's
 _research_, all right? _God_."

Jessica glares.

Jessica says, "Fine. You don't have to get so
 hostile about it."

The_Author says, "Well _you_ don't have to
 get so sarcastic about it."

The_Author says, "My `love life.' Jesus."

The_Author looks away, fuming.

Jessica looks the other way, fuming.

The Madding Crowd swelters and swirls.

Jessica sighs.

Jessica allows herself a sidelong look at

Jessica says, "Well I just think you should
 know I don't think of it as research."

Jessica says, "I think of it as sex."

Jessica says, "And go ahead and do it.
 Because I told you I don't consider this a
 monogamous relationship at the moment.

The_Author remembers. Five weeks ago -- not
 long after he began inhabiting the MOO in
 earnest, as a matter of fact -- Jessica
 declared over breakfast that the time had
 come for them to open up the possibility of
 seeing other people. It was the only way,
 she said, that she could stand to go on
 living with someone so unwilling to commit
 to her. He didn't think she meant it. He
 thought she was just being dramatic. He
 still does.

The_Author says, "All right, first of all:
 Whatever. You want to live in a
 nonmonogamous relationship, feel free to do
 so. But don't expect me to join you in it. I
 have no plans or intentions to get involved
 with anybody else and I never have."

The_Author says, "And secondly, as for
 netsex: Forget it. I thought the idea didn't
 bother you, but I was clearly wrong. So
 never mind. If you're gonna get this freaked
 out about it, I'll pass, thanks."

Jessica looks at The_Author with something
 like astonishment.

Jessica says, "No way. No fucking way. You're
 not going to put this responsibility on
 _me_. _I'm_ not the reason you're not going
 to have netsex. You want to know what the
 reason is?"

The_Author glares.

Jessica says, "You're afraid to."

The_Author fumes.

Jessica says, "You're afraid it would be too

The_Author glares, and fumes, and sweats, and
 almost cries.

The Madding Crowd chatters and churns.