On the Lower East Side, the girls were dressed like prostitutes, the men were dressed like monsters. It was Halloween.

I watched the neon light flash orange green blue pink red on the 169 Bar sign.

I was on my second date with the obituarist. We rode the F train to 2nd Avenue. The obituarist said he was trying to break out of the obits.

He'd just written something for the Style Section on the new renewed popularity of Fernet. When he spoke to the East Coast liquor rep, the man told him: I think we are moving from a culture of sweetness to a culture of bitterness.

Even my perfume is bitter, I told the obituarist. The obituarist leaned in to smell me.

You smell like the subway, he said.

The obituarist was a nice Jewish boy from a good family with a good apartment in the West Village with an operational fireplace. He was taking me to see his friend Andrew's new play, which was going up in the SoHo loft of a middling poet with generational wealth.

In the line to get up to the loft, all of the usual characters. Mia Wallace with a bloody nose. A man with a knife coming out of his head. A cheerleader. A couple minor New York City celebrities.

The apartment had floor-to-ceiling built-in bookshelves, a sliding wooden ladder. A special globe which revealed political sensitivities beyond my comprehension. An entire shelf of the owner's latest book, which had enjoyed critical success but failed to sell.

The large room was crowded and girls crawled onto the floor and into the ornamental fireplace. There were chairs hanging from hooks on the high ceiling, but no one brought them down.

In the play, a 23-year-old girl fucks her way through Paris looking for her "spiritual father." She has sex with a war reporter. She has sex with a pornographer. She drinks Fernet. She does not find what she is looking for.

I couldn't bring myself to go home with the obituarist. I didn't like the sound of his laugh. I took the uptown train alone and fell asleep watching InfoWars.