A 20-Year-Old’s Diary Entries From Early January, 1972
by Richard Grayson
Saturday, January 1, 1972
The new year began pretty well. I am going to keep in mind my two New Year’s resolutions: to stop reminding myself of past unhappiness and to let myself be happy in the future. For I want 1972 to be a good year.
Last night when I went over to Scott’s house, he said to me, “Richie, I sure hope 1972 will be a better year for you than this terrible one was.” When I protested that I felt 1971 was a good year for me, neither he nor Avis believed me.
But life, despite its ups and downs, is generally a delightful experience. There’s so much that I want to do in this year. I’m going to put some effort and joy into living, or try to, and we’ll see what happens.
Last night Scott, Avis and I made our own bagels from a recipe in this magazine. Scott’s next door neighbor Sal, a pleasant guy – gay, I think – came over and the four of us smoked grass and told stories and we had a nice time. Avis tried to make “electric bagels,” but they didn’t come out as good as Alice B. Toklas brownies do.
Around 11:30 PM, after Sal left, I could sense that Scott and Avis wanted to be alone, and though they protested mildly, I kissed my two friends Happy New Year and left them, so in love, to see in the New Year together.
Once the door was closed behind me, I heard Scott shout, “Alone at last!” and I smiled.
I made it from Marine Park to East Flatbush in time to be in Ray and Robin’s apartment in East Flatbush when the clock struck midnight, feeling a bit uncomfortable as I knew only a few people there, like the Fried brothers. But Mark and Consuelo arrived soon after.
They’re looking well. Consuelo was as effusively affectionate as ever, and Mark said the job was going fairly well, that he and Consuelo may be moving soon.
I came home and slept late this morning, having breakfast at noon. I drove into the city for a bit, then to Rockaway for lunch with Grandma Sylvia. Grandpa Nat was again complaining of chest pains. Worried, I urged him to see a doctor.
I spent the rest of the day at home, watching old movies and trying to amuse Jonny, who’s in bed with a cold. Marc is having a small party for some friends tonight, and Mom and Dad went out for the evening, so I just relaxed. If only I could imagine what will fill the rest of these pages. . .
Tuesday, January 4, 1972
I awoke from a deep sleep feeling tired, and an aura of weariness pervaded the whole rainy day.
This morning in English, we did Browning – I enjoy him – and I gave Prof. Merritt my paper, which was not very good. In LaGuardia, Mikey told me that if I didn’t want to run for rep this term, I didn’t have to because he and Mike found a whole bunch of people to run.
I didn’t have time to reply, as I hurried off to Poli Sci, where Prof. Berkowitz continued his discussion of revolution. Most kids handed in their papers today. I have almost finished mine, which has to be in by Thursday.
Leaving class, Scott asked me if I wanted to take a drive with him to the Grand Army Plaza library, but as I entered LaGuardia, I was swept up in a crowd going to the Pub. Stacy, Allan, Carl Karpoff, Mike and I went for a pleasant lunch of burgers and onion rings.
While I’d pretty much written Stacy off, today I again was mightily attracted to her. It may have something to do with the miniskirt she was wearing, revealing firm legs and creamy thighs. Or perhaps it has to do with my dreaming last night that we slept together.
But as Hal put it once, crudely but succinctly asking me, “Does she fuck?” The answer’s no, I’m pretty sure, although Stacy gives the impression that she’d sleep with any of the four guys lunching with her.
I hung around the lobby for a while with Carl, Stacy, and Gary (beaming because Prof. Kiraly gave him an A on his Military History paper) – and then Larry and I decided we’d better see Peter D’Amato. We dutifully distributed the copies of Mother, as Peter requested.
When I returned to LaGuardia, Elspeth, Shelli and Elayne were lunching at the desk. When I asked if they’d seen Stacy, Shelli said she was downstairs in the Kingsman office.
I found Stacy playing her new song into Leroy’s tape recorder; it’s damn good and I told her so, but she said she knew it was very good. A lack of confidence is not one of her problems.
I walked Leon to the Junction and went home to work on my paper. Dad says that Lennie’s decided to rename the Nemerson Hotel in South Fallsburg the Paradise Inn and will open it for Easter.
The doctor found nothing wrong with Grandpa Nat’s heart; the chest pain comes from too much cigar smoking.
Friday, January 7, 1972
I haven’t decided if today was a bad day or a good one; so much happened. This morning I did my English final and then had a terrible fight with Mom which upset us both.
A wildcat strike halted most buses in Brooklyn, so I drove to school. In LaGuardia, Shelli was cold as she gave me back my form for a grade from Father Reagan for the Education credit we’re getting for doing Mother. She was angry, I figured, because I’d rebuffed her friendly phone call last night.
I handed my take-home final to Prof. Merritt and then went to Vince Fuccillo’s last class. It was the last day of the term and the last class ever for Terry, who was a bit tearful.
She and Slade wrote their farewell columns in Kingsman, and I guess reading them meant more to me because they were written by my friends.
And a lot of my friends are graduating, so the goodbyes were sad: a handshake from Jay; a kiss for Lois; a “so long” to Rosie; a hug from Jill. But I guess I’ll be seeing them again – if the accident will.
I drove Jill home and I wished her all the happiness in the “real” world – “the shooting gallery,” as Slade put it. After lunch at home, I returned to campus, where I saw that the graduating trio of Terry, Slade and Rosie were getting thoroughly drunk at the Pub.
I sat around the lobby with Stanley and Leon (who got Stanley a sled that said “Rosebud” for his birthday present). That place, the campus in general and LaGuardia lobby in particular, has held so much of my life. There’s still a year and a half to come. Then what?
I overheard Mikey tell Marty, “Jerry got a job.” It’s with Larry Simon, the assemblyman, and Mikey said Jerry was leaving Sunday for Albany. And slowly the realization came: no wonder why, all of a sudden, my friendship seems to mean so much to Shelli. Jerry will be in Albany most weeks now, and she won’t have her boyfriend around all the time.
When I got home, after first dropping Elihu off at his house, I called Gary. He knew about the phone call from Shelli because she had told him about it and (Gary said) how she was just doing me a favor. Later I called Shelli and apologized for being rude on the phone last night. She said she understood, and I hung up as quickly as possible after talking briefly.
Today is Marc’s 17th birthday. Now he can legally drive. I gave him an ounce of grass for a present and the family took him out to dinner. I’m tired and going to rest tonight.
Monday, January 10, 1972
A mild, cloudy day. Not having any finals until next week, I have this whole week to study and to relax a little. I slept late this morning, enjoying every minute of it. But after breakfast, I went – inevitably – to school.
I had to return some overdue books to the library. Meeting Scott on the way, I lent him my copy of The Great Ascent. In LaGuardia, I found Stanley, Elspeth, Avis and Teresa.
Elspeth was worried because she didn’t see Shelli and their Bio final was in twenty minutes. Elspeth called Shelli’s house, but her father – who’s out of the mental hospital – said she’d already left for school.
However, this afternoon, when I questioned Elspeth, she said that the test was in Whitman Auditorium and she didn’t see Shelli there, either.
Stanley confessed that he was thinking of taking a leave of absence next term to just sit around and write a novel. But Mikey says Stanley will be back: “He can’t leave this place.” Mason looked awful today, very tired, and he said he was going to study in SUBO all night.
After having lunch at home, I drove downtown to Dr. Wouk. We had a pretty good session. Dr. Wouk suspects I’ll be hearing more from Shelli, and “it’ll be interesting to see how you handle it.” I can hardly wait to find out how I’ll handle it myself.
At home again, I called Gary, who said the Psych final was very difficult.
When Dad came home today, he said he’d finally given in to Lennie and invested $10,000 for 10% of the hotel, now to be called the DeVille Country Club. That should bring some excitement to our lives, although it’s probably a bad investment.
I called Ivan, who said he’s been ill with the flu but who also said he may be at BC tomorrow. He’s decided not to go to Boston U until September, and instead he’ll work for his father in the spring. He was very gracious, but then Ivan always is.
Then I spoke to Brad, who told me I have a surreal life. He invited me to an all-male party, but I said I’d feel uncomfortable and declined. However, I’m becoming more comfortable with Brad; we’re able to discuss things about our relationship in the summer of ’69 that we couldn’t before, and I think he’ll always be a friend.
Uncle Abe came home from the hospital but he’s still very weak. Grandpa Herb called, saying that the Slack Bar will be closing this week. I guess they’re going bankrupt. Business on Fulton Street has been so bad lately.
Wednesday, January 12, 1972
The “Pandora’s box” I wrote about last night opened a lot sooner than I expected it to. And tonight, after a day that was, well, difficult, I find myself not at all happy with the human being named Richard Grayson. I am scared and I am alone, but I guess I get what I deserve.
I went to school early today and met Avis in LaGuardia. She’s been so cool to me lately. Later, I saw her and Shelli go someplace. I sat in the lobby and talked with Jill, Allan and Gary.
Shelli called Jerry from the phone booth and I surmised that he was at home and ill. Later, however, Avis mentioned “the accident” and I said, “What accident?”
Shelli said that that Jerry was hit by a car on Sunday.
Stunned, I heard her say it happened while they were crossing Kings Highway by her house at Church Avenue. Jerry was hurt pretty badly, and they rushed him to the hospital.
I can’t remember the extent of his injuries, but Shelli said he can’t walk and she’s staying in Staten Island taking care of him. I said I was sorry, but it was more than that. I feel incredibly guilty.
Even last night I had a dream in which I hurt Jerry. And I wished bad things would happen to him. I know that, logically, wishing doesn’t make it so – Dr. Wouk, when I called him half-crying, reminded me I don’t have magical powers – but I felt (and still feel) crappy.
I had lunch in the Pub with Leon, Mason and Jay, but I didn’t even taste the food or hear the conversation. I just don’t even know what I’m feeling, except I’m feeling bad. Poor Jerry. Just as he was about to start his new job, too.
I couldn’t stay around the college and I just had to talk to someone, so I went over to Scott’s house. But he couldn’t understand the way I felt. He was upset because his father ordered him out of the house if he didn’t cut his hair and shave his beard.
I watched Scott shave the beard off, then went back to school. The one person I talked to who really understood what I was feeling was Susan. We ate with some others and afterwards she was so sweet.
But I got a different reaction when I called Stacy, who hung up the phone after hearing my name. I guess she’s mad at me, perhaps because something I said got back to her. When will I ever grow up? I don’t know what the hell is going on, and I feel very alone and unloved.
Friday, January 14, 1972
It turned colder today. I’m remembering tonight what I said to Steve Katz last week: “Sometimes you have a day when you just can’t make connections with another human being. And then – the very next day – you can get so close to people.”
Today was like that. I really felt as though I was communicating. I woke up early and went to buy two pairs of nifty shoes on Avenue J; it was at Dad’s friend’s store, so I didn’t have to pay.
I took a drive through Prospect Park, which was still and quiet, and I did some deep thinking.
Now that Dad has actually bought 10% of the hotel, I’m beginning to get excited at the prospect of a more glamorous life. Mom, Dad and Lennie are getting so involved; they’re going up to the Catskills tomorrow. It’s pretty weird to think my family owns (part of) a Borscht Belt hotel now.
At school I went to the library to study, then ran into Elihu, who wanted to show me his new glasses. We went into LaGuardia lobby, and Dean Wiepert came over, in one of his friendly moods.
We discussed the ambiance of the lobby, and the dean said that the Dean of Students office will be moving into Boylan, and eventually LaGuardia Hall will go back to being part of the library.
We took our Mugwump campaign photo – with Hal, Ivy, those “radical Zionists” whom I distrust, Mike, Mason and all the other people running on our slate. Some of the girls are quite pretty, and as we were going to lunch, Mason said that one, Evan’s sister, “has nice nuptials.” I agree.
Leon, Mason, Mikey and I had a riotous lunch at Roma II. Everything was so pleasant, I wished things could always be like that. As the others went to the library, Leon and I hung around for a while until I drove him home.
For the first time, he began revealing himself after I talked about my nervous breakdown. Back in October, Leon said, he was getting sick and became nauseous every time he left the house.
I really talked to people today, and I even had a nice, brief chat with Shelli’s first boyfriend Saul. This evening I called Gary, who’s been working like a dog because he’s so worried about his Experimental Psych course.
While the folks went out to eat, LuAnn came over looking for Marc. She had asked my ninth grade English teacher, Mrs. Sanjour, now at Tilden H.S., about me. Mrs. Sanjour said, “Oh, Richard was one of my best pupils ever.”