A 20-Year-Old’s Diary Entries From Early February, 1972
by Richard Grayson
Wednesday, February 2, 1972
When I arose this Groundhog Day, a wet snow was falling, and it continued to fall throughout the day. Walking to the post office on Nostrand Avenue this morning to mail Ivan his birthday present (a 1945 Batman comic), I fell on the ice and got all bruised.
I limped into LaGuardia and talked with Avis and Elspeth. Carole called me over, saying, “You haven’t congratulated me yet.” I kissed her as she showed me her (huge) engagement ring. I guess Carole is now at the pinnacle of JAP success.
I really think I’m going to enjoy English 59, The Academic Satire course with Mr. Kitch, an earnest, youngish teacher. I’m glad Scott convinced me to switch into the class.
In Soc, Bill Beer lectured on alienation; he’s pretty good, and he said that if we want, we can use our first test mark as our course grade and then not show up.
After class, Gary and I went back to LaGuardia, where we took another Mugwump photo. Mikey prevailed upon Stacy, Leroy and Carl to run, and even Gary is running.
We all handed in our petitions and platform statements. Perhaps I’ll make history by being the first person to lose three student government elections in a row.
I went to the Pub for lunch with Stacy and Cynthia, and as the service was, as usual, terrible, I got a chance to see the Feldman sisters together.
They’re very alike: Cynthia is Stacy, but just a little less so, and I think she’s a bit prettier. They’re so affectionate: they kept kissing each other like Lillian and Dorothy Gish in Orphans in the Storm.
Carl joined us later and talked of his trip with Leon. The other day Mike said that I shouldn’t trust Carl, but I think Mike’s way off-base in his opinion that Carl will do anything he can to get ahead.
Back in LaGuardia, I talked with Leon and Stanley, and then came home. Mom and Marc had been at the hospital and they said Grandma Ethel looked okay and was even walking around.
So tonight I went myself to visit her at Caledonian Hospital, on Parkside Avenue. Grandpa Herb was also there. Grandma Ethel looked well, although she complained that she was so nauseated she couldn’t eat.
I was relieved to see her, though, but as hospitals unnerve me, I didn’t stay very long.
Friday, February 4, 1972
So much has happened today and it’s only 7 PM, but I feel worn out. In English this morning, Mr. Kitch began talking about parody. After class, Scott asked me if I wanted to go with him and Avis to Radio City tonight; I told him no, that I had a date (I don’t, of course).
In Soc, Beer talked again about alienation and discovering how we can become free of oppression. He’s tried grass and psychotherapy, but does anything really work? I said it’s scary to face the unknown – and believe me, it is.
I voted for myself and the other Mugwumps, but did little campaigning, as Hal didn’t bring the leaflets until late afternoon. We sort of had a strategy session at noon, and Mikey gave one of his “go get ‘em” speeches. Kingsman endorsed The Alignment, naturally, and here I go with my third SG election loss.
Scott was with Avis but took me aside and told me, somewhat apologetically, that they were doubling with Shelli and Jerry tonight. But he did ask me first, of course, and he gave me a brotherly hug as he left.
He and Avis are great; still, I was surprised at how upset I was, for you’d think I’d be over the breakup by now. But the other day Renee said that Howie has never gotten over Alice, so maybe I will never get over it, either.
I took Cynthia to vote, then I waited around for Amy and drove her to her ballet lesson. She and her ex-boyfriend Eli and his new girl, her friend, all belong to this co-ed house plan.
Amy told me that Eli hadn’t dated any other girls before her, but then he decided he wanted to date others. He said Amy was possessive and he cried and she cried. Amy described the sick feeling she gets when she sees Eli and his new girlfriend together. She’s lost five pounds since the breakup. I understood every word she said.
Tonight Amy’s house plan, Kharma House, is having an open house and she’ll have to face it alone, if she goes. Just like me at Allan’s Druid Festival party last November.
Grandma Ethel was in a lot of pain today. Grandpa Herb had dinner here with us, and so did Gary, who has to be at the Armory for his National Guard service tomorrow. I just feel so nervous tonight. I haven’t had a bad anxiety attack like this in a long time.
Sunday, February 6, 1972
Today was a beautiful day, because I witnessed something beautiful. I woke up feeling refreshed after a restful sleep, and after breakfast, I got all dressed up in my green suit with the works: tie, cufflinks, dress shoes.
Gary came over at 11:45 AM and we drove in my car to the catering hall, Regency House, in Jamaica. When we arrived, we saw Kjell and Sharon were being photographed. They looked so beautiful together, so right together.
I met (or re-met, I guess, since I apparently knew her at P.S. 203) Gary’s girlfriend Eileen, who seems nice: pleasant, plain but pretty. We first went into a room for the smorgasbord. Gary had an upset stomach so he didn’t eat much, but I stuffed my face.
We talked with the kids there: Kjell’s friends Artie and his wife, Lou and his fiancée Tina, Eileen, Tommy and his girlfriend, all of whom sat at our table later.
The ceremony began at 2 PM and I sat with Gary. First Eileen and Artie walked down the aisle, then the other attendants, the best man (Sharon’s brother), the rabbi and the cantor, Kjell with Mr. and Mrs. Guttormsen, and finally Sharon stepped out from behind the curtain and her parents walked her halfway down the aisle – then Kjell came and escorted her under the canopy.
As a woman sang “Sunrise, Sunset” (“swiftly flow the years”), I got these chills and almost began crying. Sharon was so damn beautiful, dressed in white, her light red hair covered by a veil. And Kjell looked so handsome in his tuxedo. It’s nice to see love.
As Kjell crushed the wine glass, the wedding music played – and then we went down for dinner. It was a great meal and I ate a lot and danced the hora and the alley cat and the waltz and talked a lot.
When us guys went out to decorate Kjell’s car with paper hearts and a “Just Married” sign, we found it was snowing heavily. Back in the hall, we enjoyed the remaining half-hour of the affair, then I gave Kjell their gift, kissed Sharon, Mrs. Guttormsen and Mrs. Goldman, and said goodbye.
Gary drove the Pontiac home through the heavy snow; he got out at Eileen’s house and he later came around the block to pick up his car in front of our house.
Later I spoke to Alice, who of course went to P.S. 203 with Kjell and me, and she said all our friends are getting married but not her: “I‘m going to live in sin for a few years.” Alice has decided to quit her job at the magazine and go back to Vandeveer again.
When I saw Sharon and Kjell at the altar today, I realized I want to be married one day.
Monday, February 7, 1972
Late last night I got a call, but no one said anything. I heard breathing and said if the other person didn’t say anything, I’d hang up – but the person hung up first. It’s probably a nut, but I got the feeling it was someone I knew.
The snow, which looked pretty last night, was just a mess this morning. Mom drove me to school.
In LaGuardia, I shared these awful lettuce cigarettes I bought at the health food store with Avis and Mike, but they smell terrible and Sheryl made me throw them away because they were stinking up the lobby.
Mike stunned me by saying that Solly had died and they buried him on Friday. His last intestinal operation proved one too many. Although I never had any love for Sol, I felt terrible and wanted to punch Elihu after he laughed hatefully, saying, “He was a rotten person anyway.” He was still just a kid and too young to die.
In English 59, we listened to Nichols and May, and then David Frye. After class, Scott said he had his first shrink appointment today. Soc was cancelled, so I did some campaigning with Mikey, handing out leaflets, perennial candidate that I am.
I went with Leon and Mason to this jazz concert in SUBO, and on the way, Gary joined us. I was uncomfortable, as he and Leon hate each other; they’re such opposites.
But peace prevailed, and the jazz was good, and I met Pamela, the girl from Friday night at Kharma House. She said she signed up for Kingsman as I’d suggested and we exchanged last names (hers is Charlton and she lives in the Basin).
She has soft black hair and the cutest smile I’ve ever seen. Would it be ridiculous to even think that I’m falling in love with her?
“Yes, it would,” Gary said when we had lunch afterward at Four Kings.
Back in LaGuardia, I talked for a bit with Alan Karpoff’s girlfriend Cathy, who’s freaky in the tradition of Laurie and Jane and Sheryl. Then I went to Creative Writing with George Czutrin, but class was cancelled so I leafleted with Hal and Evan.
Then, as I was leaving campus, Carole caught up with me and bent my ear about her wedding plans and how jealous Irving is of any boy that talks to her.
Grandma Ethel’s home from the hospital, but she’s still in pain.
Tonight Gary called, wanting to know what I thought of Eileen. I said she seemed direct, a non-games sort of girl. He said, “It’s three months and I don’t know where the relationship is heading.”
Tuesday, February 8, 1972
A long day. It turned icy cold. I was nearly frozen from the walk from my car to LaGuardia. Cynthia and Leroy were in a big discussion with a disciple of this 14-year-old maharishi, who the girl claimed was God.
Scott said that the session with his shrink went fairly well; he’s going twice a week, and I hope it helps him.
In Bible, Mrs. Starling was great as we went over the archetypal stories in Genesis: the first murder, the flood and the towers of Babel. She’s so effervescent that I wasn’t bored for a minute.
After class, I looked around for someone to eat with, and finally I found Teresa available. Over lunch, she told me she’s been seeing this married guy but it’s a hassle and now she’d like to give his younger brother a Summer of ’72 experience. That’s Teresa for you.
In LaGuardia, I found Susan and asked her some questions about the story she’s writing on the new English curriculum. I could now be a major if I could somehow get by the foreign language requirement.
We brought out our “Wanted for Treason” leaflet about Harvey, which Harvey called libel. But Allan naturally refused to go along with his fellow elections commissioner, Avi Sternlieb, in confiscating it.
I sat through a boring History lecture by Osteraas. After class, I asked Olivia out. She said no, that she has a boyfriend. I felt rejected and was headed for LaGuardia when I saw Allan, Mikey and Amy going to the coffee shop.
I joined them and heard Amy say that she likes Eric, who Mikey introduced her to on Friday night. Eric came over to her house on Saturday night, but I think he’s too experienced for someone as admittedly innocent as Amy.
After Amy went to class, Mikey told me that on Friday night, he wanted to go to bed with Amy. Mikey has only had about three dates and he’ll never get the courage to ask her out. What he needs is to get away from his mother – but the only son of a widow, that’s rough.
Downtown later, Dr. Wouk said not to feel rejected by Olivia’s turndown and he encouraged me to ask other girls out. In our session we thrashed through the events of the past two weeks and it was good to get things off my chest. He’s going to Europe on a lecture tour next week, so I’ll see him in two weeks.
Gary called to say he spent a nice day observing nursery school kids in Rockaway for his Child Psych course.
Thursday, February 10, 1972
A cool, bright day. When I arrived on campus this morning, I went straight to the Kingsman office and found Maddy and Melvin looking over the election results.
We were pretty well schmeered; we elected six on our slate, all people I don’t know who were supported by Jewish Student Union, all of whose other candidates won, too.
I lost, along with Elspeth, Stacy, Carl, Gary, Leroy, Hal, Ivy and Evan and his sister. It was all pretty discouraging; it looks as though you have to wear a yarmulke to win a student government election at Brooklyn College.
Mikey said nothing this morning, but he was in a bad mood and growled at everyone. I escaped to Bible, where Mrs. Starling went over some more of Genesis; I really love that class.
I took a walk with Steve Katz to move his car; he had a fight with Paula, then made up with her. They’re always doing that, but it’s four months and Steve thinks it’s “something solid.” We discussed what we could do to get Mikey and Amy together but in the end we decided that it’s better not to interfere.
Back in LaGuardia, we all hashed over the election results and decided it was a dangerous precedent for one group (JSU) to be so powerful, winning the vote with their endorsed candidates in both parties.
Mikey and Mike decided that we’ll have to pick a presidential candidate soon, maybe next week, and begin campaigning right away.
Stacy came in, and while Mike was comforting her on her defeat, I asked her to go with me to the Kris Kristofferson concert on Sunday and she said yes.
After Stacy went downstairs, Edie entered the lobby with a jar of homemade jelly she’d promised me. I kissed her and asked her to go to the movies with me tomorrow. Edie said that she had her sorority rush, but maybe we can go afterwards.
I shot the breeze awhile with Mendy and Juan, then drove home, dropping off Susan at her house as she and I discussed romantic poetry.
Tonight was Jonny’s eleventh birthday party, just the family and Gary, who dropped by. Jonny got $10 each from Marc and me, and lot of presents; he’s a cute kid and a great brother.
Tonight I visited Grandma Ethel, who’s looking better. The Slack Bar was finally sold, and Grandpa Herb is now unemployed. Afterwards, I went across the street to see Grandpa Nat and Grandma Sylvia, spending an hour talking to them in the kitchen.
Friday, February 11, 1972
An indescribably weird day. When I walked into LaGuardia this morning, Avis told me that she had called Scott last night; he didn’t call back and she was upset and told me to have him call her.
In class before Mr. Kitch came in, Scott called me over and said that for all these years he’s been doing things for others, not for himself, and he wanted to start being selfish. Scott said he was giving up his obligations, including calling Avis every night.
I sympathized with him, as he’s going through a personal identity crisis, but Avis is going to be very hurt.
As Scott and I went down the steps in Boylan after class, I witnessed an unbelievable, incredible sight: Scott and Avis passed within a few inches of each other, he going down the stairs with me, she going up, but their eyes never met and they both walked on.
It was so queer; it wasn’t as if either was ignoring each other, I could tell. They just didn’t see the other person. I felt it symbolized their relationship.
Bill Beer bullshitted on anomie in Soc, and then Gary and I went to LaGuardia. Ivy was there for her last day at BC, as she got accepted in September to Downstate for nursing.
Ivy is really remarkable; I don’t know how she stands Hal’s fooling around. She knows he’s always screwing other girls, but it’s first starting to bother her now. Ivy is direct and sensual and probably should go out with other boys, but Hal’s terribly jealous.
Mike tried to tell Ivy that Hal’s no good, but she says there’s more to Hal than any of us in LaGuardia see. Last Wednesday, she wanted to break up with him and he begged her to forgive him till 2 AM. “He was crying like crazy,” Ivy said.
We went to lunch at Campus Corner: me, Gary, Ivy, Amy and Barry Fried, a very odd grouping. I asked Barry what he’d been discussing with Saul – this Divine Light stuff about the 14-year-old Perfect Master, Guru Maharaj Ji, who’s got so many kids following him – and that led to an hour-long debate, mostly between him and Ivy.
Barry said that there is more to life than just living, that he has the Word, and Light, and Touch, and Taste, and that he now knows the ultimate harmony of the universe.
Ivy said that the physical world is what matters, not the spiritual, and we must do things in the here and now. But both of them agreed on the basic unity of the world – which is something I can’t really buy.
We sat in LaGuardia for a while and then I drove Amy to her ballet class. She says that she’ll never find her ideal man, who’s someone just like her. But she still likes Eric and not Mikey.
When I got home, I got a message to call Avis, who sounded very down and on the verge of tears. Scott hadn’t called her and she was frantic. I couldn’t tell her that he wasn’t going to call her, and I was grateful when she said that Shelli had dropped by to stay with her.
A few hours later, I went to school and found Edie at the rush with her sorority sisters, who are about the ugliest group of girls I’ve ever seen. For a minute, while Edie was undoing her braid (she was in a ridiculous Chinese outfit for some reason), she looked almost pretty – but not really.
We decided – or I did, and she went along with me – to see Sunday, Bloody Sunday at Kings Plaza. In the car over there, we talked but she doesn’t seem too bright.
And as I sat down next to her in the theater, I noticed she had terrible perspiration odor. So I just concentrated on the movie and leaned over to her to comment every ten minutes or so. She seemed pretty freaked out by the scene where Peter Finch kisses Murray Head.
When the house lights went up, I noticed a fat girl get up five rows in front of us; it was Shelli, with Jerry and Avis. I called to Avis, and she came over, saying that she spoke to Scott and that “we’re finished.”
During the short, I kept thinking of how strange things have become. When the three of them were leaving, I called over to Jerry because I didn’t want to speak to Shelli instead of him. I told him, “Take care of Avis tonight.” Jerry just stared at me blankly.
I took Edie home and kissed her without feeling. But I was glad that Shelli saw me out with a girl and it gave me a strange sort of satisfaction to know I can get dates.
Life is weird. Really. So many things can happen and get fucked up and then turn right again, and there are so many twists and turns life can take.
Sunday, February 13, 1972
When I picked up Avis at her apartment at 7 PM last night, she seemed in fairly good spirits. However, she said she went to see Scott at the store yesterday, to bring him a letter from their Indian foster child, and it was kind of upsetting.
We went to the Sheepshead and saw Trojan Women; it was all right, but somehow we got the feeling that Euripides wouldn’t have wanted it that way. Then we drove over to 86th Street and had a bite to eat at Jahn’s.
Despite her depression, Avis was very good company. I took her to Rockaway and let her drive the car up and down the Boulevard – at one point a cop stopped us by the Neponsit Home for the Aged and pointed out that she’d been driving on the broad sidewalk – and then we came back to my house, sat in front of the fireplace and talked.
Avis still loves Scott so much, I think she’ll do anything to have him again. But I couldn’t see myself loving her, physically – not yet anyway, even though we are going out next Friday night.
I got my eight hours sleep although there was so much to think about: the things Avis said, and everything that’s been happening lately.
This afternoon, in a pouring rain, I picked up Stacy at her house. I said hello to her mother and Cynthia, who was in bed with a cold. We drove up to Lincoln Center – I drove the wrong way on Columbus Avenue for one block – and had lunch at the Philharmonic Café, then went to the Kris Kristofferson concert.
He was pretty good, but neither Stacy nor I are much into his kind of music and Philharmonic Hall wasn’t a good place to see him, really. The acoustics are terrible and it’s hard to see an individual performer.
Stacy still confuses me; I can’t figure out if she’s experienced sexually. With me alone, she plays so innocent, and I didn’t do more than kiss her (I didn’t kiss Avis).
But Stacy is interesting and it’s so nice to be with a girl and really talk. This has been some weekend – three “dates” – and I’m tired. But it was a hell of a lot of fun.
And tonight I got a call from Shelli, who said she phoned to talk about Avis. But I think that was just an excuse, for she said how all weekend, she’d been thinking about things and wanted to apologize to me for a lot of shit.
I said we could be friends again. We shall see.
Unhappily, Gary is in bed with a flu-like illness. He’s getting really pissed off at Eileen for going back and forth in their relationship. Sometimes I wonder if men and women were meant to have long-term relationships.