A 19-Year-Old’s Diary Entries From March, 1971
by Richard Grayson
Tuesday, March 2, 1971
A blustery day. This morning I was going to get the new college bulletin when I met Shelli and Elspeth in Boylan. Shelli and I went to the bookstore, where we got birthday cards for Jerry and Mike, both celebrating today. (Jerry is 23, Mike is 19.)
In English, we completed our discussion ofHaunch, Paunch and Jowl, a really good book. I got the minutes from Mrs. D and walked with Elihu to the Assembly meeting, stopping on the way to talk with Matty LeVine, head of the Gay People.
Dick asked me to have someone introduce a resolution supporting a campaign for half-fare for college students; Ari Teitelbaum said he’d do it, and it passed by acclimation. Then Frieda asked the Assembly for support for the Day Care Center’s fight for the prefab and she got it.
Most of the meeting was spent questioning Larry Sparks aboutThird World Edition, the black-oriented paper. Scott and his Orthodox girlfriend were more obnoxious than usual; Pam and I couldn’t take them anymore.
After the meeting, Shelli and I went back to LaGuardia, where Jerry had gotten our card in his mailbox and appreciated it.
We found Ivan upstairs, being entertained by Gary. I suppose I’m jealous of Ivan (and vice versa); although Shelli says she loves him only as a friend, I’m not so sure.
And yet, in a real perverse way, I can understand that because I’m attracted to Ivan myself. Dad knows his father from business, and his family is very rich.
Ivan had come to school looking for Ronna again. Jerry didn’t like him, and neither did Elihu — but Jerry constantly insults everyone. Just today, for example, Jerry insulted Hal, Kevin, Gary, Shelli and me. But lately I haven’t been very nice to Gary myself.
Tonight I was on the phone with Shelli for a long time; she’s going to try the Stillman diet. Her mother says I’ve turned Shelli into a human being, whatever that means.
Marc and I gave Jonny money to buy a present for Mom’s 40th birthday tomorrow. Marc got a summer job with a TV repairman on Avenue L. Dad won $400 at the track last night.
Friday, March 5, 1971
One of the happiest days of my life, I think. Shelli loves me. And I love her, or I think I do anyway. Twenty-four hours can bring so much change.
This morning was windy and cool and held no promise. I can’t quite remember the details of the day.
Kingsman came out with the People’s Peace Treaty ad and a reply from Warren to last week’s letter, the one attacking him, Bill Kirsch and Elspeth for being Jews in hiding because they voted against the Soviet Jewry sit-in.
The letter infuriated me, partly because Warren is Catholic, Elspeth celebrates Christmas and I think she’s only part-Jewish, and Bill’s family are into Ethical Culture. Anyway, Warren responded beautifully; he’s such an idealist.
Poli Sci, all about the emergence of Red China, was interesting, but the Russian test was hard, so I cut Art at noon and went to lunch with Shelli and Gary.
Elayne was mad at me because I told Gary I thought maybe she wanted to go out with him; I thought she did. I sent her a card saying how sorry I was and promising to mind my own business, and she forgave me with a kiss.
Consuelo came by, looking peaked; I told her she leads too active a social life. She said she was amused by today’s Kingsman article by Renee poking fun at Consuelo’s “living away from home” series in the Spigot.
Shelli and I talked with Peter Amato, who seems to have so many good ideas about the Student Volunteer Resources Committee. After we finished, Gary came by to pick us up and drive each of us home.
I had a sore throat and was intending to stay home the rest of the day, but I called Shelli, who came over. Ronna told her she thought I started a rumor about her and Hal; I certainly did not.
Her parents went out to dinner so we had to Grandma-sit until Kieran and Sindy came in. Then we left for a drive. As we drove through Prospect Park, I was feeling nauseous and so I drove her back and on the way home I told her I loved her.
Back home, I felt fine all of a sudden. She called and said she was so happy, she thought what I said was a dream, and so did I. We exchanged short sentences, the kind lovers do, I guess — and long silences. We argued over who was the luckier to have each other.
Sunday, March 7, 1971
It started out cloudy but turned sunny although it was cool. I had an extremely relaxing morning, waking up early, lying in bed and reading Henry Roth’s Call It Sleep for English. After a big breakfast, including oatmeal and grapefruit, I called Shelli and woke her up. But she didn’t mind. I picked her up at 1 PM. Her parents make me uncomfortable, and Sindy wasn’t feeling well after a tooth extraction.
We rode into Chinatown, kissing at every red light, almost. It was drizzly there, and I didn’t want to stay, so we went back over the traffic-ridden Manhattan Bridge, driving through Brooklyn Heights.
We walked along the Promenade, looking at the city across the river. We kissed and hugged; she says I’m a good kisser. She liked my stories and said that all the characters are like me, but especially Donny.
Shelli is becoming very dependent on me; she clings to me. No one was home back at my house, so we went upstairs to my room and made out. I took off my shirt and showed her the “Shelli” I “tattooed” on my shoulder, courtesy of a felt pen.
I really wanted to have sex with her, but she hates her body so much, she’s afraid to let me see it. Finally we both got into bed and crawled under the covers, where she took off her blouse and bra. I wanted to go a bit further, take off my pants — and I started to, but she was so afraid of my erection she didn’t want to look or go any farther.
She started to cry and say how sorry she was but she was scared. But I was kind of relieved because I was scared too and starting to lose the erection. We got dressed and had a small supper (no lunch today) and then went for a drive before I took her home.
In front of her house, we kissed and embraced again, and again she really stimulated me.
Tonight she called again, as she does now every night. But I wanted her to study for her Psych test and she had to return a call from Ivan from yesterday.
This has been a very interesting weekend.
Tuesday, March 9, 1971
I got up late and went to school. Elihu was happy after making his debut last night, playing the piano to accompany the silent film Leon showed. Shelli and I said we were sorry we couldn’t make it.
Jay, Lois and Stanley were discussing what they enjoy most: the cinema. I wish I knew as much about films as they do. Mason brought his adorable two-year-old brother into school to “sell” him to his Speech class.
Shelli looked better today after yesterday’s No-Dōz disaster. She slept well last night. I told her that after she went home yesterday, Ivan started confiding in me.
He really wants Ronna to marry him, and it hurts him that she goes out with other guys to seek approval. Poor Ivan’s really upset that Hal has asked Ronna out — and just as I said that, as Shelli was walking me to class, who do we see but Hal walking with Ronna.
In English, we discussed Call It Sleep, a very good book. After class, I saw Elspeth outside, looking upset; she said that Don’s mother died yesterday.
Pam designated Steve to chair the Assembly meeting in her absence, but there was no meeting because we couldn’t get a quorum. Shelli and I walked back to LaGuardia, but she didn’t like my talking to Jeanne or Hilda.
Ronna told us she accepted Hal’s invitation to go out on Friday night. He’s so gross and disgusting and she’s so virginal and innocent, I think she’s in for trouble, but Ronna told me, “I can handle myself.”
I did flirt with Ronna a little, too, to make Shelli jealous, but later Shelli told me that Ronna liked me and I wouldn’t have done it if I had known that. Anyway, Ivan is going to be hurt by her going out with Hal.
To make up, I took Shelli into Elihu’s office and we embraced, but we were interrupted — embarrassingly so — by Prof. Osterhaas of History, who wanted me to do a Spigot story on a thing called Alternate Careers Week.
Gary, Elspeth, Shelli, Greg and I bought a few things at a Faculty Wives’ Rummage Sale, and then I went along as Shelli interviewed Matty LeVine. Matty’s a very brave guy – to come out of the closet and urge others to do so.
He’s got guts and believes in love and I related to him immediately. After their conversation, Shelli said she admires him enormously. I wish I could do what he’s done, but of course right now I don’t know what the hell is going on.
Tonight I went over to Shelli’s house and she looked so beautiful — God, I think I love her more and more. But the things Matty said still run through my mind.
Thursday, March 11, 1971
When I arrived in LaGuardia this morning, Stanley, Elspeth and Shelli were in the office. Jill came in, angry at everybody: the dumb sorority girls whose yakking prevented her from studying, her parents who want her to get married. She was very sharp.
In English, Mrs. Schlissel concluded our discussion of Call It Sleep, a book I liked so much I’m going to do my paper on it. It will be about epiphanies and compare Call It Sleep with Franny and Zooeyand Go Tell It on the Mountain.
There was another demonstration protesting a recruiter from Texaco, and as the protestors marched, I saw Ray running in the other direction. He doesn’t want to get involved again, but no one tried to block the recruiter today.
Elspeth, Mikey, Shelli and I went to the Government Operations meeting, but no one else showed up, so there was no quorum. I was going to eat with Jill and Elihu, but my stomach was upset and I had diarrhea.
Shelli came home with me. Only Maud was here, so we went to my bedroom. She took off her sweater and slacks and surprised me by asking me to take off my pants as well as my shirt.
Eventually she took off her bra although she went no further than that, as she was having her period. We explored each other’s bodies. She said I’m the sexiest person she’s ever met but that she feels ugly. She would look better thinner, but I think she’s pretty sexy now.
Shelli wouldn’t look at my penis, but she felt it and manipulated it in my briefs. We discussed our masturbation practices; I feel so comfortable talking with her.
She had to meet her sister to go to a fitting for her bridesmaid’s gown, so I dropped her off back at the college and I had dinner at Sugar Bowl with Lou and Elspeth, who told me the college administration may charge the Day Care Center mothers with that Henderson Rules shit. Then I drove Elspeth to her job downtown.
I called Brad and told him I’m having an affair with a girl. His response was “Great!” We chatted pleasantly although we made only tentative plans to see each other.
Sunday, March 14, 1971
A sunny, mild day. I slept soundly, rose at 9 AM and read Goncharov’s Oblomov for Russian. I’ve gotten so behind in my work; I guess that’s what falling in love can do to a guy.
I came down for a late breakfast and read the papers. Lennie has been putting an ad in the Times’ franchise opportunities section concerning the Pants Set. He’s interviewed some interested people already, but Dad doesn’t know what will come of it.
I’ve had a sore throat for the past few days — but now I worry about myself less. I went to the Male Shop to buy myself a more flattering spring wardrobe, but it was closed, so I guess Lennie opens the store late on Sundays.
I’ve even wondered if I should buy a pair of hot pants — those new short shorts everyone is talking about. Ronna looked cute in hot pants the other day.
I drove out to Rockaway but found no one home at Grandma Ethel’s. On the boardwalk, I found Grandma Sylvia and Grandpa Nat, who told me that Grandma Ethel and Grandpa Herb had gone to a funeral.
Upstairs, I talked with Grandpa Nat about the pants business while Grandma Sylvia pushed lunch on me, and I overate. Taking leave of them, I rode through Belle Harbor, spotting Mason’s adorable two-year-old brother playing on his front lawn with some other little kids.
Walking around an almost deserted Riis Park, I thought: as a writer, an artist, I need solitude. I’m going to write a story, I think, called “Requiem for Rockaway,” a kind of ode to that wonderful place.
Back home, the house was deserted and I banged out my article on Career Dodgers Day. After dinner, I went to Shelli’s. She clings to me so much, I’m worried about how she’ll take it when it ends.
I don’t know why I think it will end. She loves me and I feel deep affection for her. She was wearing shorts and a sweatshirt and got out her guitar and played and sang a song she wrote for me. I love the smell of Shelli and her mahogany eyes and the little scar on her nose.
Later, we talked with Sindy and their parents, who I’m beginning to feel more comfortable with.
I still think I’m in love with Shelli. Yet I know I find myself attracted to other girls, like Ronna, as well as to boys. It’s confusing.
Tuesday, March 16, 1971
A gorgeous, summery day, it was in the 70°s. I was depressed after a bad night and it didn’t help any when Shelli said Hal told her he was going to beat me up today because of what I said to make Ronna afraid of him.
I was feeling bad about everything, so I went outside to enjoy the glorious weather. Shelli, Elspeth, Jack and I went out on the quad and tossed around a frisbee. It hit a YAF table and this stupid guy wanted to fight Jack and me, and of all people, Hal came over and broke it up.
He said that he wanted to make sure that he was the only one who was going to hit me today, but I talked to him and apologized sincerely for my bad behavior. Hal accepted my apology and we shook hands.
Afterwards, Shelli took a raw hamburger patty from her bag and said she was glad now that she didn’t need to put it on the black eye she expected me to get.
Gary told Shelli he’s been depressed lately, so we took him to the lily pond and garden in back of the library and we tried to cheer him up for over an hour.
Jerry is another person who’s depressed; he’s been rejected by two law schools. Meanwhile, Alice quit her new job and told me she rejected Howie’s plea that they get back together.
Up in the Spigot office were Ronna and Hal, and I kept my distance. But later Ivan came by and told Shelli he was through with Ronna after the whole thing with Hal.
Ivan acted coldly toward Ronna, but I noticed that after a while he weakened and went over to talk to her. Ivan’s such a schlemiel: he’s looking to be hurt again and again. But I’m staying out of people’s business from now on. Let them wreck their lives if they want to.
Today’s Assembly meeting took up only one important bill, by Warren, about draft resistance, and let out early, so Shelli and I sat in front of LaGuardia and played boxball with Elspeth, Jerry (even if they don’t talk to one another), and Elihu.
After school, Shelli, Elspeth and I went to Kings Plaza. In the store, Elspeth bought a cape that was on sale. After a visit to her orthodontist across the street from Kings Plaza, Shelli came back upset over how her braces look.
When will that girl stop hating herself? We petted in bed and I had an orgasm. Gary called while we were in bed and said that at today’s Faculty Council meeting, they finally abolished the swimming requirement for graduation. At last!
Tonight Gary went to the doctor about his sinus trouble, and when the doctor put a tube up his nose, the poor guy fainted dead away. Thank God he’s all right now.
Thursday, March 18, 1971
A cold, windy day. Marc still isn’t feeling well; he’s been groggy and depressed. Mom called his doctor, who told Marc to stop taking all the medicine.
Taking the bus to school, I went to Elihu’s office, where I found Stanley and Jerry. Then Elspeth and Shelli returned from breakfast; Shelli brought me a book on Norman Mailer’s mayoral campaign.
As we were walking to class, we saw Ivan with Mason, and Ivan decided to go to Shelli’s Poli Sci lecture with her. In English, we discussed The Rise of David Levinsky, a novel I greatly enjoyed.
After class, I saw Bobby Cohen, who works in the Kings Plaza store with Mom, and we had a short chat. Shelli and Ivan came by and we went behind the library to avoid seeing Ronna and to have lunch.
Ivan is going to keep his final date with Ronna this Saturday, he said. I really like him and I’m now sure he likes me. Ivan and Shelli have a very special relationship, which I now understand and appreciate.
Walking him to the subway to go back to Poly, we ran into Carole, who’s such a pest and a yenta.
Elspeth had a dental appointment, so Mikey chaired the Government Operations meeting in her absence. Mel and Steve moved to have Elspeth recalled as chair for nonfeasance, and with those schmucks Levinsky and Breitbart in favor, the recommendation will go to the Assembly.
Later, when Shelli told her, Elspeth was hurt. She’s a bit irresponsible, but she’s a better rep than most, and once again I’ll leap to her defense. I set up a party caucus for Tuesday night, and Marty agreed to my plea to kick Mel out of the party for sponsoring the resolution against Elspeth.
Shelli and I spent the rest of the afternoon in LaGuardia, talking to various people, including Jerry, who’s still depressed over his law school rejections. There will probably a disciplinary hearing for the Day Care Center mothers, but no announcement’s been made, and as committee head, Jerry wasn’t talking.
Shelli made me proud by studying all evening for her Psych makeup exam tomorrow. Dad won $300 at the track last night.
Wednesday, March 24, 1971
A cold day. Shelli studied last night a bit and looked tired this morning.
The Day Care mothers thing is still going to court, though Jerry is getting putting political pressure on some people. The school offered the Financial Aid office in LaGuardia as a day care center, but the administration refuses to drop the injunction.
In Poli Sci, we discussed Japanese traditions as contrasted with those in China. In Russian, Mr. Roberts read a wonderful Gogol story.
I’ve been cutting Art a lot and wanted to go to class today, but then I found Elihu and Elspeth with the Day Care kids and mothers going from room to room to find a place to stay. Eventually they found an Ed classroom that was vacant.
I joined Jill and Stanley as they were going out to lunch, and when I got back on campus, Jerry asked me to put up a notice of a meeting in Dean Gold’s office. It was about a room for the Day Care Center.
Gary accompanied me, and on the way we met Carole Robertson, whom I’ve heard from several sources is a little power-mad and that she’s trying to run the whole show at the Center.
After shooting the breeze in the office with Gary, Elayne, Jill and Harris, I picked up Shelli after her last class and we ran into Ivan, who was holding hands with Sandy, supposedly his best friend’s girlfriend. Not my business!
Kang was really bummed out because he got his draft physical notice, and I told him my experience and suggested who else he should talk to. Shira told us she got arrested at the sit-in for Soviet Jewry in D.C.
Back home, I studied Poli Sci with Shelli, and I hope it helped. We did take a break to get into bed, which was a hell of a lot more fun.
Mom prepared us a delicious dinner, and soon afterwards, in my room, we undressed — it was mostly Shelli’s idea, but I offered no resistance — and got into bed for a second time.
Shelli went to see Dr. Stone today for her usual appointment. He’s upset that the Counseling Department will be abolished when the new “schools” are initiated under the Governance Report.
She got to see her shrink today, but I didn’t get to see mine because Dr. Wouk called this morning and canceled our session because he had to go out of town.
Mark called tonight and we gabbed about the sorry state of the Mugwumps in the upcoming student government elections.
The Senate defeated the funding for the supersonic transport (SST) decisively — another blow against the military and Nixon, whose popularity is slipping drastically due to the Laotian fiasco.
Friday, March 26, 1971
A bright, breezy day. I arose early out of a deep sleep filled with dreams. Arriving early on campus, I picked up Kingsman.
There is going to be a voter registration drive on campus this week. The registrars will be appointed by Marty and the heads of the graduate and evening student governments, and the pay is great.
Marty asked me to be one, but I just don’t have the time. I’m sure he mostly had other things on his mind. Last night he became engaged to Ruth, who was proudly showing her ring. They’re going to be married in a year.
Jerry and Leon were in court, meeting with Dean Gold, the Day Care mothers, Assemblyman Larry Simon and Judge Mollen. They came up with a tentative proposal that the school drop all charges against the mothers and the Day Care Center can move to T-1 until the facilities in LaGuardia can be set up. President Kneller still has to okay the deal.
I decided to cut Poli Sci, then regretted my decision, since I just hung around and talked with Harris and Bill in the Spigot office. A quote from Bill’s film review in the paper is being used in the New York Times ad for the movie Pigeons, which Bill says is great.
I made sure to leave early for Russian in Boylan, where I found Sindy in the cafeteria. We were talking when Timmy came over to show us the “Haitian karate” moves that Guy has been teaching him.
In Russian, we discussed Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons, and I returned to Art, where we looked closely at Hieronymus Bosch paintings. Then Gary and I had lunch, running into Kieran at the restaurant. Shelli found me when we returned to campus.
The two of us went to see Prof. Fitzpatrick, the head of the Counseling Department. He’s a remarkably friendly and engaging man, and we talked with him for over an hour.
According to a new by-law of the Board of Higher Education, the Counseling Department will be broken up and put under the control of a non-psychologist in the office of the Dean of Students.
I sympathized greatly with Prof. Fitzpatrick’s feeling that this is bad for students and the Counseling Department faculty, and maybe we can do something to stop it.
Shelli and I left for home after that. I gave her a suede bag I found at the store and thought she’d like. We went to bed this afternoon; I wonder if anyone in my family knows what’s going on.
Shelli had money and wanted to treat me for dinner, so we went to the Mill Basin delicatessen, and then, in Georgetown, bought a card for Marty and Ruth. Then we drove around for an hour and parked in front of her house for another hour, joking and kissing and saying silly things.
I’ve never been as comfortable with another human being as I am with Shelli.
Tuesday, March 30, 1971
I awoke early and finished my English paper and then went to class, where we had a rare good discussion. Shelli said her Music test was hard, but I knew she didn’t go to it; however, I kept quiet.
I told Gary why I was so abrupt with him and he said he also was preoccupied with his very bad weekend with the Guard. Ivan came to BC again. He stood up a girl on date on Saturday night, probably because Ronna told him to.
The voter registration drive is going very well. After talking to Marty, Gary and I went to SUBO to reserve a lounge for the Mugwump party caucus on Thursday.
We ran into Father Reagan, and while Gary talked to him, I dropped in at the Drop-In Center to see Alice. Andreas came over to her house; Alice’s mother likes him but doesn’t want Alice to get serious with a thirtyish Greek sculptor. Alice still doesn’t know much about him, not even his last name.
Pam, Elspeth, Shelli and I left for today’s Assembly meeting, which was a corker. The agenda was Joel’s finance report: money was allocated to SO-FED-UP, Tri-Fed Scholarship Fund, Israel Club, and Jewish Defense League and back money was given for those arrested in the Soviet Jewry sit-in.
The meeting was filled with yommies, and they were rude and interruptive and noisy, especially people from night school. At one point Aaron and Scott called for a closed meeting, but that move failed.
But although the Assembly cut the JDL allocation by 80%, everything else passed by large margins. The April 24 March on Washington people were next, and one of them called the Assembly “morally bankrupt” and charged that they favored Jewish groups.
The reps got very mad and called the guy a racist; finally, Ray calmed him down and the money for the March was granted.
I went back to the office and wrote up the minutes and my usual freelance story on the meeting for the Spigot. Then Shelli and I left for home, where we had a nice time in bed this afternoon. Grandpa Herb and Grandma Ethel came over for an hour.
At first I didn’t know they were here, and Grandpa Herb opened the door while we were still in bed. “Excuse me,” he said, embarrassed, and quickly closed the door. We got dressed and went downstairs to talk with them. I think he told Grandma Ethel we were studying Biology, ha ha.
We went to Rockaway tonight to watch Ivan shave off his mustache, but he wasn’t home and strangers answered the door. Shelli and I returned home, and she admitted she did once have a big crush on Ivan.
Gary called to ask what happened at the meeting, and while I was on the phone, Shelli started taking off my clothes. We went into bed and I came like for the third time today.
Après, Shelli tearfully confessed that she didn’t go to the Music final. I said I already knew.