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The Problem with an Ugly Verb

And why I've never fucked anyone

By David Eggers

The whole thing started with that movie. After making two of the worst movies of the decade--only one of which, Mallrats, was properly panned (I don't care what anyone says, Clerks wouldn't have made the cut in my high school Telecom class)--last spring GenX auteur Kevin Smith gave us what people like Gene and Roger, in what can only be seen as a terrible slip in judgment caused by stress or misuse of medication, believed to be a "real," "street-level" look at love in the '90s. Chasing Amy. Everyone knows the story: Sensitive Comic Book Artist Guy falls for Hot Lesbian with the Funny Voice. Big Issues get talked about. Real Twenty-something Life is depicted.

It's an awful movie. Besides the excruciating acting (alternatively wooden or overwrought), the lazy cinematography, the overwritten dialogue (I won't argue that one; see it again) and the inexplicable chain-smoking by the entire cast (does that make it more "real," or just more saddening?), there was something about the movie that I found more unnerving than every element of its overall suckiness: It was all the "fucking."

Not the sex. (There wasn't enough, actually.) I'm talking about the word. The word used as a verb. Did you notice? Every time anyone's talking about sex, it's "fucking." The Lesbian talks about "fucking" her Lesbian Lover. The Guy's Friend warns that the Guy will never "fuck" the Lesbian. The Gay Friend, I think, talks about how Archie has always wanted to "fuck" Jughead. The word is everywhere. In one stretch, when they're working through the Big Rumors About the Lesbian's Questionable Past, the word comes at us maybe a dozen times in a few minutes, relentless, like bats bursting from an attic.

When you hear it like that, do you flinch? I flinch. I flinched in Chasing Amy, and then I was troubled. I couldn't understand it. I couldn't relate. It made me sad. It made me walk out. I mean, I have no problem with the word in general, most of its uses. It's just that, well, these were supposed to be a bunch of smart, sensitive people in this movie, right? And the movie is about love, right?

Then why all the "fucking"?

What I'm saying, and will use the next 5,000 words to say in a really plodding and meandering (I won't say peripatetic) sort of way, is that I have a problem with using that word. As a verb.

Every language must have its profanity, and "fuck" is our most astringent and versatile specimen. I use the word all the time, really--all the fucking time, actually, heh heh--but its use as gerund-acting-as-adjective seems to me wholly different than its use as verb of choice to indicate copulation. Now, when I use it to strengthen a point I'm making, as in, "I'm really fucking hungry," I'm using its inherent abrasiveness to indicate, as all such words do, the serious immediacy of my need. Its power comes from its guttural sound, its status as profanity, its (admittedly often mild) shock value. I really don't want to have to go into the etymology here--Mr. Safire, for one, traces the word to the "Lower Dutch,"--but I think we can all agree that without exception, its sundry applications are all of the negative nature, uniformly unpleasant. To be "fucked over" is not desired. To "fuck someone over" is to do him wrong. To be in a situation where one is "fucked" is to be in a bad situation. To "fucking hate" someone is to hate that person a great deal. And, see, I've said all these things, used all these ways of employing this word fuck. I've said "fucking" this and "fucking" that. I have gotten "fucked up" and have had a "great fucking time," have been "really fucking pissed" and "so fucking mad." While driving, I have told other motorists that if they don't get the "fuck" out of my way, that I will "fucking" do something bad to them. I have told people to get the "fuck" out of my house and my office, and that if they didn't, that I would "fucking" make them. When playing my slow white guy version of basketball, I have told opponents to "fucking get that shit outta here." I have been "really fucking tired," "really fucking confused," "really fucking depressed" and "really fucking happy."

But I've never fucked anyone.

I have done what people are talking about when they use that verb. But I'm really pretty sure that I have never done what that verb conveys. And it does convey something different than the other words and phrases available to describe what we're talking about. What does it say? Let's think aloud for a sec. On a basic level, it implies that the sex was down and dirty. That it was sticky and raunchy, maybe sweaty and smelly and raw. And all that is, of course, great--sex can be/should be down and dirty and sticky and sweaty and raunchy and raw--but then there is another aspect of the word, the negative aspect alluded to above, that comes with it. It more than comes with it, really, it overwhelms it. Due to a combination of the oomphy, clipped sound of the word, and its many other applications, "fuck" carries with it, inevitably, the force of violence, the weight of the I'm-doing-something-to-you aspect. And it doesn't matter much, really, whether it's being used in the cooperative sort of way, "we fucked," or the more common "I fucked him/her" sort of way. Any usage, no matter what the context, actually, carries with it meanings and signifiers, even in trace amounts, that reduce sex to something sort of base, something not profound, something unequivocally trivial.

And so the hypothesis here is this: Fuck's increasingly widespread usage, conversationally or in books or whatever--and what I can only see as the fast-approaching time when it's interchangeable with more benign terms like "to have sex with" or "to sleep with"--is, I think, one of the sadder things going on in these happy times, blessed as they are with a robust economy and so many action movies starring Nicolas Cage. It seems clear, to me at least, that every time a person uses that word, every time a person has sex and afterward decides that he or she has "fucked" someone--there's that gap between the two things, it seems, between being with someone and having sex, and later naming it with that name--every time that happens, when the choice has been made and that term applied, the act named "fuck," it seems to me that that's where, a little bit, the world crumbles.

I have a friend--we'll call him Buddy--who does not openly proffer news from his own sex life, but who heartily enjoys hearing about the activities of others, including mine. And invariably, when I tell him that I had been out with someone/had been recently romantically involved with that someone--quite often someone he knows well--his reaction is always the same. His eyes will narrow on me, his eyebrows will do a Jack Nicholson kind of thing and he'll lean forward in his chair and ask, "Did you fuck her?"

And at that point the conversation goes cold, because though I sort of want to tell him about the events in question, and really have no qualms recounting such things in detail, I find myself unable to go on with it. Even if my night was kind of uncivilized, even if by his standards (and we're talking about a pretty odd duck here; Buddy's a sick fuck, really) "fucking" is exactly what I had done, I've lost heart. I feel like the wind's been knocked out of me.

At those times, and when watching a movie like Chasing Amy, I've considered it, thinking back, from partner to partner, trying to recall a time when the sex I've had could be called "fucking." But even when taking into account the most creative activities with old girlfriends, even the most random one-nighters (not too many, but still), even the times in closets and crawl spaces and parking garages, I haven't been able to make the word "fucking" stick. Even when I've been drenched in sweat, when it's dark and humid, even when I've been poked and scratched and we're making completely ridiculous sounds and ugly faces and have to slow down periodically to catch our breath, even when condoms are breaking and we're trying positions that are clever but sort of unfeasible in the long term, even when things are red and sore and soaking, soaking wet, even when I was last visiting New York and was out and met someone at a party at Rebar, someone who was some vague friend of a friend, and I talked to her for a few minutes, and almost immediately was touching her, knowing from pretty much the start that something was going to happen, it being summer and Saturday and everything, even when we went to that club in the meatpacking district where you dance to bad Billy Idol music and where we made idiots out of ourselves, mashing on the dance floor, groping and everything, even when we finally decided to go home and then walked entirely too far to her apartment and then made some half-hearted pretense of talking on her bed but then really kind of right away we were wearing nothing and I was watching her above me and knowing that I didn't know her really at all, and knowing I probably wasn't going to ever see her again, and/but feeling her body and her incredibly taut skin, so perfect everywhere, so smoothly stretched over munificent curves ... I mean, even when we were whispering purple-y stuff to each other and maybe even taking terrible risks and giving our lives away to those minutes in the dark--even then, even then, friends, I can't say it was "fucking."

Honestly, I'm not sure what to call it. The other terms aren't much better. To "make love" always carries with it that sort of dopey New Agey stench, in the same earnest-but-stupid vein as calling a boyfriend or girlfriend your "lover." There are the funny words--"boning," "porking," "screwing," etc.--that are relatively harmless, used lightly as they are, usually in anecdotes told by fraternity men and/or people who fish. The main one, "to have sex," is a pretty pedestrian way of putting it, and really without its own baggage; it's clinical and acceptable in almost all situations--dinner conversation, junior high health class, perky sitcoms featuring Brooke Shields and Judd Nelson. And therein lies the dissatisfaction, I guess. It's too common and plain, and has been stripped of its power to evoke. And so there isn't really any way to talk about it that conveys the sensuality of it, without sounding dorky and without implying a do-er and a do-ee. We're at a loss, really, except I have to say that the phrase I really like, right now, just because it's so devoid of content, is "to sleep with." The phrase has some dignity, however colorless, and it manages still to hold some sort of mystery/aura about it, I guess drawn from the "sleep" part. (Sure, it's not always accurate, like when you don't actually sleep with the person afterward, but still.) It's not poetry, but it's something. And it doesn't for a second imply force, or an act bereft of meaning, or worse, a combination of both.

If you think I'm annoying and preachy now, you should have known me in grade school. I was a third-grade moralist, a strange mixture of Regular Popular Kid, Bully, and Voice of Virtue. Living in a fire-and-brimstone Catholic household, I was not allowed to swear (or even say 'God' out loud; if a sibling slipped and did so, I would tell on him or her by saying that they had said "dog backwards." Really.) And so I enforced my code of propriety in the playground, determined to curb the growing propensity of my peers to swear during recess. I would confront offenders: "What, do you think that makes you sound cool?" I'd ask, rhetorically, "because it doesn't. You're not impressing anyone." And the odd thing is they usually bought it, partly because I was the sort of person they would be trying to impress in the first place, and partly because I sometimes punched people in the stomach when I felt like it would help make my point.

And so I'm about to force a comparison between the kids-trying-to-impress-other-kids-through-swearing and another group of people with stunted social skills: purveyors of contemporary literary fiction. Now, for some reason, seeing the word "fuck" in print, in fiction in which its appearance is incongruous, seems to exacerbate the problem with the word. Just as there's dissonance between the higher aspirations of sex and the something-you-find-in-the-plumbing sound of "fuck," there is dissonance in seeing the word used among the refined prose of books like Fernanda Eberstadt's art-world novel When the Sons of Heaven Meet the Daughters of the Earth. There, other words stick out, too--really any of the "alternative" words that can be used to describe sex and the body parts involved. "Fuck" has bedfellows in words like "cock," "pussy," "gash," "ass" and "prick" (which, by the way, is always the wrong word. "Cock," maybe, but "prick" implies a blood sample--and a small one at that).

Some history: A kind-of educated guess would point to D.H. Lawrence as the pioneer of the use of naughty language in literature, but even his stuff was mild by contemporary standards, and of course his descriptions of romance and desire and sex are unequaled in their sensitivity. (Responding to criticism of Lady Chatterly's Lover, published in 1928, he said the book was "verbally improper but very truly moral." (It was originally titled Tenderness.) Things changed irreversibly with Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer (published in Paris in 1934 and in the U.S. in 1961), which wasn't so concerned with any such appearance of moral structure, and which of course made "fuck" and "cunt" the household words they are today. Then there was Miller's biggest fan, Norman Mailer, and then Philip Roth and a host of other writers for whom Miller apparently broke down some long-reviled barrier. In general, the '70s were pretty big for "fucking," and also marked the emergence of the word in the lexicon of women writers. Maybe the best example is Erica Jong's Fear of Flying (1973), in which she longs for what she calls the "Zipless Fuck." The Zipless Fuck, she explains, is sex with great passion but no obligation, and necessitates that "you never get to know the man very well," that the encounter be brief, and that "anonymity [makes] it even better." Since then the word has steadily increased its appearances, making its way into countless novels, and of course into every other issue of The New Yorker.

But how often is it the right word? Pretty much never. Let's use as an example Kathy Acker, one of our most prolific "fuckers," who really doesn't use any other word when talking about sex. The strange thing is that, however nihilistic Acker's work seems on the surface, in much of it, particularly the openly autobiographical stuff, there is a soulfulness that betrays a sort of deeply felt love of life, just under the thick skin of her tough and stylized writing. In Kathy Goes to Haiti, the first sentence tells us that Kathy "doesn't believe in anyone or anything." On page 17, she's in bed with the cabby who drove her from the airport. "Kathy grabs the man's cock. As soon as it's hard, she sticks it in her cunt." The cabby wants to take it slow, which frustrates Kathy. "The man refuses to fuck the girl." Sure, it seems barren of sentiment, and Acker's work would seem to be a place where the word "fuck" would seem as appropriate as anywhere. But consider this: The narrator, at 29, has flown to Haiti alone, for no reason other than to get away, to see what will happen, an undeniably romantic idea. Almost immediately, she's sleeping with the cabby, and if you look at it one way, far from meaning nothing, it indicates a yearning--for affection maybe, for sensual pleasure maybe, but more, I think, a yearning for something deeper, a bridge between herself and the strange new country and its people, a way to communicate profoundly with some random fat guy in a faraway place. I'm probably stretching it a bit there, but it's really a beautiful notion, if you buy it even a little, and it embodies the most romantic aspirations of what sex is all about. As opposed to something between two people married and/or in love, the word "fucking" is used more often when referring to the union of two strangers, as in Tropic of Cancer or Jong's Zipless Fuck, to indicate its primal physicality and fleetingness. But that's only part of it because, you see, when it's with a stranger--with a Haitian cabby or someone you meet in a club or bathroom or whatever--there is so much risk involved, with two people naked and strange and at their absolutely most vulnerable, all in the interest of finding pleasure and fulfilling desire and staving off loneliness and maybe feeling wanted and possibly even sharing a bed for a night, that far from being random and unimportant, it's so often the bravest and most existentially hopeful thing we can do. And thus it means everything, completely.

Try this, another common application of the word "fuck," maybe the most common usage, actually: When something really doesn't matter, when someone really, really doesn't care about something, there's one expression that conveys, more than any other, the utter throwaway meaninglessness of that something: "I don't give a fuck."

I have lately felt besieged. Exploring this issue of the word "fuck," I've come to feel like a Midwestern Rip Van Winkle, like I've just woken up and can't find common ground with my contemporaries. Even though I look and act the same as the other Young Urban Hipsters, with my mini-goatee and thrift-store clothes, this word, alas, has cast me adrift from my peers. Example 1: I recently ran into My Gay Friend Ron (of course I've changed his name) at this deli-convenience store-restaurant near my office. We were waiting for our food and so I asked him, as I had lately been asking just about everyone I knew, about the word "fuck."

"It's the word of choice for gays, definitely," he said, adding that it's his word of choice, too--the term that he uses more often than any other. I asked him why that is. He thought about it for a second, folding his arms and leaning back against the window. "I don't know," he said. He cited the ineffectiveness of terms like "make love" and "have sex" and "sleep with." He doesn't like those terms because they sound "corny and outdated." He said that "fuck" works for him because sex is often just that, a "fuck," that there often isn't a whole lot of caring and tenderness involved, and that if it's quick and physical and pretty much anonymous, that "fuck" fits the bill.

I wasn't going to get into the quick and anonymous part with him, so I just zeroed in on where I figured we'd find common ground. I set up a scenario: He's seeing someone, and he cares about that someone. After a number of times going out, after some buildup, during which they get to know and like each other a lot, they finally have sex. Then, let's say the next day he and I go to lunch, and I ask him what happened. I ask Ron--and this is really the big question, I tell him--when he thinks back on the previous night and the new and giddy romantic encounter with that someone, someone he cares for, does he look back and think, "We fucked"?

He didn't skip a beat.

"Yeah."

We went around on it for a while. I told him that I couldn't help but associate the word with violence, that saying that "I fucked" someone would be only a few slippery steps short of saying that "I raped" someone, that both imply something being done to someone, whether willingly or no. He granted me that.

"But you know," he said, "maybe it's a white hetero male thing." Huh? "It's a Guilty White Male hang-up," he said, "where it's like all the frat boys and everyone who's used the word before have made it taboo for you--where you can't use it because it's your crowd that's given it the bad name it has now." On the other hand, he said, people like him, Ron the Progressive Gay Guy, could be free to use it without shame or guilt--transgressively. With his usage, there was irony maybe. And anyway, he said, the gay sex thing doesn't suffer as much from the stigmas of rape and date rape and violence in general, so there isn't the threatening aspect that "fuck" takes on in male-female relations. A nice new wrinkle, sure, but it didn't really solve the whole problem of him using it instead of something kinder and gentler. I was about to press him on it again when Sarah, a coworker of his and friend of mine, came in and joined the conversation. In contrast to Ron, who seems to have been born streetwise, Sarah was obviously raised in the suburbs, and tilts her head sometimes when she's thinking hard. The question was posed to her. Do you "fuck" people?

Her answer was quick. "Oh, definitely."

For her, it has a lot to do with using the word politically. "It's such a male thing, 'to fuck,' so when a woman uses it, it's a source of power." She might use it, she says, when talking to another woman, because she likes the content of it, the implication that she was in control of a particular encounter. Fine, fine, using the word as a socio-political weapon is fine in certain contexts, but she wasn't answering the big question. Does she think that what she has done with people--OK, full disclosure here, I have had sex with this person, Sarah, in a sort of random way, the way friends end up having sex when on vacation together--does she think that what she's done with people (read: me) has been "fucking"? Here, like with Ron, I figure that I've cornered her into a place where she can't help but find her true, soft heart, where she'll know that the right answer, for the sake of my feelings, and in a larger sense, for the sake of the world and the crumbling discussed in paragraph nine, is "no." She wouldn't call what we did "fucking," would she?

She did the thing where she tilts her head.

"Yeah."

There is a new book out called The New Good Vibrations Guide to Sex. For those who haven't seen their ads, which occur in 1/8-page slots in better magazines all over the country, Good Vibrations is a retail and mail-order sex equipment store based in San Francisco. The company prides itself on having any sex toy and erotic device imaginable, and they appeal to a wide market, without any specificity of gender or sexuality. They are often lauded for their "sex-positive" attitude, and for dispensing information and products frankly and, according to one reviewer, "without lasciviousness."

And so they've just released this new book, the revamped second edition of the popular guide that originally appeared four years ago. It is quite educational, written with perfect clarity and candor, without overdoing the safe-sex message or getting too political about anything. Throughout the text, though, there are short quotes from Good Vibrations customers, italicized and meant to illustrate the attitudes of average people to whatever topic is being discussed. And while reading it, I felt how a grandfather must feel listening to his granddaughter's hip-hop albums. I honestly felt like the world had passed me by. These quotes from the chapter called "Penetration": "I much prefer oral sex over fucking. I do love both, but the fucking part is mostly for my honey so he can come inside me"; "I like being fisted, if they listen to my instructions to make the little duck thing before jamming their whole hand up my cunt"; "Psychologically, I dig just about any hard and rapid fucking." And this from the authors: "Sexual orientation is not defined by how you fuck, but who you fuck."

And the thing is, I really didn't have to go looking for these quotes. Pretty much every page, every chapter has someone--I guess someone sex-positive and hip and everything--talking about how/where/with whom they like to get "fucked," and what they like done to their "cock" or "pussy."

Because the Good Vibrations people are nice people, and because I was pretty sure that they would have really well-thought-out answers to my questions, I called them up. I was quickly on the phone with Cathy Winks, one of the book's two authors. I told her of my troubles with the language in her book, and she seemed interested, but more in the way that a therapist would be interested--in a caring, concerned way. I asked her why she thought people quoted in her book liked to use the word. "I don't know," she said a handful of times, to that and related questions. I told her I thought the word "fuck" implied anger and force. "I think the word has a lot of friendly potential," she said.

The Good Vibrations angle is an interesting one. In the interest of swinging the pendulum away from the problems brought on by sexual ignorance, they appropriate a word associated with animosity and disrespect. One friend, who uses it sometimes, says this: "There's always a split second beforehand when you feel bad about saying it. But the taboo aspect is part of the appeal." But for the makers of "sex-positive" manuals, isn't it counterproductive, while trying to rid sex of its taboos, to employ a word bursting with negative content? Isn't it odd, while bringing sex into the open and making it acceptable for polite conversation, to use a word that isn't? And isn't it strange, while trying to make sex seem healthy and wholesome, to choose a word that undeniably implies the opposite?

Another Gay Friend, my Gay Friend Dan, is an AIDS educator who specializes in getting safe-sex information to young at-risk men in San Francisco. A few years ago, in such an effort, he and I had tried to come up with a narrative cartoon that would dispense safe-sex information in a "hip" and "funny" way. We never really finished the project, but in the meantime he had helped produce a book called Faggot Sex/Sissy Speak, a safe sex resource guide written for young gay men. The educational material inside, designed using all those tricky fonts and photo overlays that are popular among the kids today, is complete and informative, but studded, far more prominently than the Good Vibrations book, with the words in question. There are sections titled, in large bold type, thus: "Fucking," "Butt-fucking," "Finger Fucking," "Fisting" and "Sucking Dick." The text is equally, brutally coarse. The "Butt-Fucking" section explains: "Some people fuck frequently, while others do it occasionally. ... You can be a top (the person who sticks his dick in the ass) or you can be a bottom (person whose ass gets fucked)." Elsewhere, there are really no instances of another term other than "fucking" being used. Invariably, a penis is a "dick" or "cock," a butt is an "ass." When they discuss the probability of HIV transmission through various boldily excretions, there is "sweat" and "blood," but also "piss" and "shit." The whole book is sort of relentless, really.

"We have to use plain, street language to reach young men," Dan says. "This is the way they talk. If we get all geeky and clinical, they stop listening." And because he is the educator, I have to believe him. I really don't know exactly what's on the minds of the gay youth of San Francisco, any more than they know what's in my sock drawer. Still, I can't help feeling that with all the "fucking" and "fisting" and "eating ass" in the book, mixed as it is with warnings, everywhere, about AIDS and STDs and watching out for gay bashers and Jeffrey Dahmers, that it doesn't make sex sound like all that much fun.

And that's a big part of it my problem, I guess. The lack of fun. "Fucking," for all its frankness and everything, doesn't sound like fun. And using the word sort of takes so much of what's essential about sex out of it. "It just reduces it to the basics," Dan says.

Sure, I guess, but then I wonder: Is that possible?

Last year, while my 13-year-old brother was in seventh grade, he came home one day and told me about the day's special science/ health class assembly. A man and a woman from a nearby college had come to his private school to talk about safe sex and AIDS. In the course of about 20 minutes, the educators had described in rather graphic detail the death that awaits sufferers of AIDS, and then, without further ado, they had passed around to the children a large dildo, encouraging the 12-year-olds to apply condoms to it.

My brother came home sort of freaked out. He hadn't previously known what a dildo was, and his idea of a condom was relatively vague. He had a cloudy notion about the mechanics of sex in general, and only a newspaper-headline sort of knowledge of AIDS. Why? Mainly, um, because he was then 12. He was, I thought, entitled to that sort of ignorance for as long as it had nothing to do with his life. And up to that point, it didn't have anything to do with his life. His seventh-grade class was slow, socially; there was no dating going on. Thus, there was no sex, no kissing, no hugging, no known instances, in fact, of seventh-graders even holding hands. Nevertheless, in 20 minutes or so, in the interest of really getting all the facts out there to the kids at a young age, etc., my brother's class went from knowing little to nothing about sex to associating it immediately with dildos and death.

And I thought this was sort of too bad.

I sound like a grump, and you tire of me. If you aren't already covering your ears and humming, then get ready, because I'm about to quote the Bible. There's an expression that you never hear anymore, but I think actually works better than "sleep with," endorsed earlier. It's the expression "to know." As in, "She knew him, in the biblical sense." The phrase works on two main levels: First, like "to sleep with," it has a certain poetry to it. Sleeping and knowing are a few of the best things we humans have at our disposal, evoking as they do a wide range of happy thoughts, having to do with rest and contemplation and dreams and such. Second: In a remarkably brief manner, the expression addresses the fact that when you sleep with someone, you do make a huge leap in knowing that someone, even if you pretend that you don't know them and that you don't care and that sex is vaporous and anonymous. The only catch with using the expression, of course, is that to avoid confusion in print, you'd have to use italics, and worse, in conversation, you'd always have to wink or raise an eyebrow to get the point across. Which brings us back to the problem with sick fucks like Buddy, and also to his kin in the Good Vibrations book. One of their more interesting testimonials goes like this: "I like it when a man slowly introduces his tongue in my mouth and fucks my mouth with his tongue the exact same way his cock is fucking my cunt."

I'll just say this: I for one do not want to "fuck" that woman's mouth, and I don't want to "fuck" that woman's "cunt," and, as a matter of fact, I really don't ever want to run into that person in a dark bedroom. I don't want to know that person, and I'll certainly never know that person, and if that person wanted to take the dental dam out of her mouth and complain that in the absence of "fucking" that there really isn't any way to truly put it into words, I'd have a little revelation and say you're damned right, because shit, woman, unless you're into God or aerobics or heavy drugs, sex is pretty much the best thing we've got going, the closest thing we've got to rapture, to an experience that could be called religious--and if there's no way to describe it, no shorthand way to name it, then Jesus Fucking Christ, maybe that's the way it should be.


David Eggers, former editor of the SF-based magazine Might, now works as an editor at Esquire. A version of this article previously appeared in the New York Press.

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From the October 1997 issue of the Metropolitan.

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