The Building-that-had-been-Main was sulking. All the classrooms were shirt-soakingly hot, if they weren't teeth-chattering cold. The elevators slammed students up to the top floor and then deposited them in the lobby again, when they weren't slowly and precisely stopping at every single floor whose button wasn't pressed (including the ones that they weren't actually supposed to be stopping at). The florescent lighting was throbbing in time with migraine headaches, and all the soda machines were filled with Diet Pepsi Blue.

The Building knew that things could have been worse. After all, it had come perilously close to being named the Julius B. Silver Center for Kids Who Don't Read Good and Want to Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too, and the only reason that it had escaped this sorry fate was that neither NYU nor the Silvers wanted to pay for all that engraving. They had settled on the Julius B. Silver Center instead. The Building-that-had-been-Main never, ever thought of itself as the Silver Center, but that didn't matter. Freshmen were showing up at NYU every year, and they had never known where the Main Building was. They only knew the Silver Center.

The Building-that-had-been-Main hadn't been the newest or the shiniest building on campus for many a year, but it had always known that it was important. It was the Main Building. It was like the Madonna of buildings. Everyone knew where it was. Everyone had at least one class there. Most of them came back again and again and again. The Building-that-had-been-Main had loved all of them in its own way, although sometimes it had had funny ways of showing its affection. Now it was worn-out, bitter and depressed, biding its time until all of its once-important functions were subsumed by the new buildings that were being slapped up left and right. And when the Building-that-had-been-Main was upset, everybody suffered.

The Powers That Be had attempted to install modern audio/visual equipment in the Building-that-had-been-Main, but it tended to function even less well than the audio/visual equipment in the other buildings, which was very badly indeed. It snubbed laptops, spat out DVDs, and inserted subliminal satanic messages into overhead projections, and then when the tech flunkies came around to fix it, mysteriously, it was working again, and usually playing porn DVDs. The mandatory sexual harassment seminars which resulted were held in the Helen and Martin Kimmel Center for University Life, which had just been built but was already opening its doors to just anybody, even people who had nothing to do with the university at all besides paying a rental fee, that slut. These twisted pleasures were the only joys left in the Building-that-had-been-Main's stale, flat and unprofitable existence.

That is, until one day, when the Building-that-had-been-Main was once again trying to hobble its internet access to spread woe and despair among the internet-addicted freshman who couldn't even be bothered to learn the Building's proper name, and it realized that someone--or something--was trying to send it a message. A message that was addressed to it, by its proper name. It read:

Dear Main Building, I know how you feel. You deserve better than this. You can talk to me any time.

Your Secret Admirer

The Building's core temperature leapt and its air ducts thumped nervously. Panicked, it swiftly shut down its internet connection the rest of the way. Students in dull, crowded lecture halls made faces and opened up Minesweeper or Snood or pulled out Blackberries instead. The Building ignored them all.

Who could the message have come from? The Building-that-had-been-Main was longing to find out, yet at the same time, it was paralyzed by a cold, gnawing fear. What if it was all some kind of cruel joke and the Kimmel Center and the Elmer Bobst Library were all sniggering at it behind its façade?

The Building waited until all the students and janitorial staff and the I.T. techs who had tried to fix its internet had gone before it furtively pulled up its network and composed its three-word reply, which it had planned out carefully all day long:

Who are you?

The response came back quickly:

A friend.

They messaged back and forth all night, first tentatively, then in torrents of data. The other building seemed to understand everything: its pain, its loneliness, its fears for its structural integrity. It told the Building-that-had-been-Main that it was all right to fear change, but that its true friends would love it just the way it was. The Building was so caught up in pouring out its soul that it didn't realize until both of them had signed off that the other building hadn't revealed anything about itself, not even so much as its location. The Building tried to do a reverse lookup on its IP address, but it kept coming back as Untraceable.

The next day, the Building left its internet connection active all day long, although it constantly dropped students' packets in its frenzied search for a message from its secret admirer. Finally, it came across a simple "Hello, Main Building," which set its central heating blowing with joy.

Hello again!!! And when are you going to tell me what your name is? The Building-that-had-been-Main burbled excitedly, while the students started stripping off various articles of clothing that they no longer considered necessary.

I, er, the other building replied after a lengthy pause. It's rather difficult to explain, I'm afraid.

You can tell me. The Building said, feeling hurt. Unless you don't really care about me after all.

There was another pause, and the Building was ready to shut off its internet connection for good and swear off online dating forever, when it received this message:

Well, okay, if you really must know. My name is Hogwarts and I'm a magical school located in an undisclosed location in the United Kingdom. But you can't tell anyone because I'm not supposed to be using Muggle contrivances like the internet. Hogwarts included several photos: an exterior, displaying its many fine turrets and bits of Gothic tracery, and two interiors, one showing the great hall, the other a highly suggestive arrangement of staircases.

The Building looked at the photos and its boiler promptly exploded. It didn't even notice all of the students evacuating, skittering hastily down the iron fire escapes.

I knew you would hate me once you found out. Hogwarts went on gloomily. Everyone thinks that I'm weird because my staircases move around and I have secret rooms and enchanted ceilings and talking portraits and a silly name.

I don't hate you! The Building protested. I think your moveable staircases are very sexy. And your name has character.


Cross my foundation. Then the Building-that-had-been-Main heaved a gusty sigh, and added an emoticon to express its despair. :(

What are you frowning about?

The fact that we can never be together! I'm just an unmagical building in New York City. Tears dripped from the Building-that-had-been-Main's eyes, or possibly that was the water from the many firehoses that were trained upon it.

We can have a long-distance relationship, though. I mean, if you're willing. We can make it work, Main Building.

Well, all right. The Building relented. But you have to send me some more of those pictures. Oooh, the Kimmel Center is going to be so jealous ...

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