A 20-Year-Old’s Diary Entries From Late February, 1972
by Richard Grayson
Tuesday, February 15, 1972
I’m feeling pretty chipper tonight, but today was not an easy one. Still, it ended well: I took an herbal bath, drank some plantain tea, washed my hair and lifted weights, and afterwards I felt great and glad to be alive.
In LaGuardia this morning, I found Peter and Mike wearing these buttons Dick Lewis ordered: “CUNY – Free Tuition – Open Admissions – Founded 1847 – Destroyed 197??”
Mike is pretty shrewd and a good friend, but I don’t know if I can support him for the Mugwump nomination instead of Mikey.
I met Kjell on my way to class, and he said there was no snow for skiing in the Poconos. “So what’d you find to do?” I asked. He smirked. I’m pretty sure Sharon waited for their honeymoon to have sex with him.
In English, Mrs. Starling went over the story of Abraham – real interesting. I’ve all but decided to drop History; I haven’t shown up in a week.
Back in LaGuardia, I agreed to go to lunch with Elspeth and Shelli. I know I’ve lost a lot of weight lately, and I purposely had just a salad and a sugarless tea to annoy the girls, both of whom could use a diet much more than I ever could.
Shelli probably paid me back for the hurt. No, she didn’t mention Jerry. Instead, she said she was at Ivan’s on Saturday night; he’s now taking acting lessons with Lee Strasberg. What bothered me was that Ivan never acknowledged my birthday gift and Shelli probably knows that.
And then she said Avis is dying to have an affair with Ivan – which I assume was supposed to make me jealous of him. So, back in LaGuardia, I stayed pretty much away from her.
Soon I went home anyway, dropping Mason off at Kings Plaza. Mason told me that Carl pulled a Jerry on him, trying to ask Libby out – but Libby naturally had the good sense to turn him down.
Later I called Avis, who, I’m afraid, would do anything to get Scott back. I can’t help her, really, though I’m basically her only contact with him. She wishes she could help him out of his emotional turmoil in any way possible.
Avis said that Shelli definitely seems a little peeved that I’m so happy. Shelli asked her on Sunday, “Is he still very broken up over me?” and Avis said, “Not at all; he seems fine.”
Avis hinted that Shelli is having a lot of problems these days. Is there trouble in Paradise?
I made calls to my flu-ridden friends, Gary and Allan.
Thursday, February 17, 1972
This morning I talked to Mom, who didn’t get home from the country until very late last night. She says the hotel is still a mess, but things are starting to pick up now.
I got to school early and brought some tea into LaGuardia, where Elihu, Elayne, Mason and Avis were hanging out.
Saul came up behind me and started kneading my shoulders. I wonder about him sometimes. Shelli has at least one very weird ex-boyfriend (other than me, I mean). Avis says she can’t take Saul anymore because he stares at her so intently and has a bad smell.
Jill sauntered in looking pleased as punch, as Hubert Humphrey would say. She got a very good job, making $130 a week as an executive secretary to the Vice President of the J. Walter Thompson ad agency.
Jill was hugged by everyone and seemed so pleased to be in such a “spiff” place with beautiful people (J. Walter Thompson, not LaGuardia lobby).
Steve Katz finally repaid my loan but today he borrowed my comb and Mason’s sweater. Steve’s birthday is Monday and I’m getting him his own comb as a present.
At noon, Avis and I went out for pizza. She seems to be getting over Scott, but it’s still rough. We’ve become closer friends in the past week, but friends are probably all we’ll ever be. For one thing, I know she’s not in the least attracted to me.
Bored with school, I drove Cynthia home – before today I never really noticed how pretty she is, but she’s only 16. I futzed around at home for an hour, and then returned to BC, hanging around the Kingsman office, rapping with Dick Pontone and Juan.
Going upstairs, I watched Elayne and Shelli play chess, and when Elayne went to her karate class, Shelli and I went to dinner.
Perhaps it’s wrong of me, but I don’t think it hurts either of us, as we both know enough not to discuss our past. Mike says Shelli’s an idiot, but she’s just fucked up; I feel sorry for her, but that’s all I feel.
After dinner, I went to a meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee to Fight the Budget Cuts: Dick Lewis, Richard Greenberg, Peter Amato, Bobby Parascondola, Avi Sternlieb, John Caggiano and others; they asked me to serve as committee secretary and I grudgingly said okay.
Mikey called off the Mugwump meeting scheduled for March 1 when only seven of us could show up.
As snow fell from the sky, making the night beautiful, I drove Paul Zucker to his house and then came home, where I found a card announcing step-cousin Merryl’s engagement to someone named Jeffrey Alpert.
Saturday, February 19, 1972
I got over yesterday’s terrible mood pretty quickly. Perhaps I was just having my period. (Mikey says men get them, too.)
I picked up Avis at 6 PM at the Postgraduate Center, where she has her therapy. Avis looked bright and her mood was good, as she talked to Scott yesterday and they are apparently ironing out things. Maybe they’ll get back together, but somehow I doubt it.
We took a ride uptown and through Central Park at dusk, then went to Carnegie Hall for the concert. Don McLean was very good; of course everyone loves “American Pie” but he wrote a lot of other good songs. And it was a long concert.
Avis and I sat way up in the Dress Circle, so we couldn’t see him too clearly. From there, Don McLean looked a lot like Elihu. It was snowing when we came out, so we drove right home to Brooklyn.
Avis suggested we go to my house and we had coffee and cake in my room. We really can talk to each other; we’re good friends. But I don’t know where our relationship will go. However, even if it stays the way it is now, I shall be happy.
I know Avis is very sensual and has had a lot of relationships with men. Somehow I think it’s too soon after Scott, but we’ll take things naturally and see what develops.
A wet snow turned heavy tonight, dumping inches of stuff on the ground.
This morning I visited Grandma Ethel, who seems better except that she’s worried about Grandpa Herb not having a job.
From there I went to walk around Kings Plaza, where I ran into Craig and Linda and then Kjell, who obviously enjoys being married to Sharon.
Later in the day, I went to give Alice her birthday gift and ended up sitting for hours in her bedroom talking. She’s still with Andreas, apparently very much in love. Her mother is leaving Wednesday to visit her brother in Israel, and Alice will be alone in the apartment for two months.
Alice is a remarkable person; we’ve been friends for nearly 23 years. She thinks that Shelli is still in love with me, but then Alice always was a Shelli fan.
I spent the rest of the day inside, protected from the storm, thinking about my life and things.
Monday, February 21, 1972
Today is a holiday, the day we celebrate the birthday of George Washington, which is really tomorrow. But three-day weekends are now what the American people want, so there we are.
As I said to Avis last night while we were lying on the floor, smoking grass and watching the Peking airport ceremonies, it’s so freaky seeing these Chinese soldiers, whom we’ve been taught to fear as our mortal enemies, playing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Nixon met with Mao Tse-Tung today and afterwards, at a sumptuous banquet, the President quoted the Chairman’s poetry:
“So many deeds cry out to be done, always urgently. The world rolls on. Time passes. Ten thousand years are too long. Seize the day. Seize the hour.”
I really like that: “seize the day.” I feel that I must seize my day, too; there’s so much I want to do, so much I have to do.
I awoke this morning from a restless sleep. During the night I thought mostly about Avis. She said she “adored” Scott but that she was never in love with him, nor he with her, and all the time they went out with each other they never said they loved each other.
That led me to rethink my whole concept of man/woman relationships: you don’t have to love the other person to go with them and have sex. Perhaps that is why Avis seems to be getting over in a week what it took me three months to get over.
And for all my talk, I never did love Shelli. If it had been real love, something – I don’t know quite what – would have been different.
Today I washed the car, did some health-food shopping (avoiding the traffic at sales-struck Kings Plaza), did 75 sit-ups and not much else. But still, I enjoy these lazy, into-myself days.
I spoke to Gary, who told me he feels like a “ski widower” with Eileen gone every weekend. Do you know in all these months she has never phoned him once at home? I think Gary is getting a little peeved at her, and I can’t blame him.
I spoke to Avis briefly. She wanted to get back to the Mike Douglas show, as John and Yoko Lennon were on. But after I spent the evening studying, I received an interesting phone call: Shelli.
It’s getting so I can tell what day the State Legislature reconvenes and Jerry goes back to Albany, as I get a phone call from Shelli the night before. Her excuse this time was rather thin: about the grades Peter gave us last term, officially listed for Father Reagan’s Ed class.
I told her I got an A. (After the mental health disaster of last term, I still have no idea how I managed to pull out B’s in my Poli Sci classes and English. I’m just lucky, I guess).
Anyway, Shelli could have called Stacy or any of the others, or just waited until I saw her later in the week. But she went on and on, and I felt as though I was listening to a female Jerry drop the names of European places, art movies and painters.
Finally I got pretty bored and hung up with a succinct “goodbye.” Yet I’m glad Shelli called, for now I realize what a stupid, dull girl she is and how I’m better off without her. She is still as untrustworthy as ever. Poor Jerry: I know the crap he has to put up with. Of course he’s not blameless, just as I wasn’t, either.
As Dr. Wouk said, my relationship with Shelli was full of lies and deception on both sides. I want future relationships, with Avis or any other girl, to be, above all, honest. Besides the fact that it’s morally correct, it’s also a hell of a lot easier in the long run.
Friday, February 25, 1972
Tonight I’m very moody. I alternately feel light and happy, then depressed and miserable.
I don’t think I’m well physically: my stomach has been upset for days with pains and nausea, and my sinuses are killing me. I don’t know if it’s serious, but I just don’t feel right. Perhaps it’s only my depression. It’s Friday night and I’m alone – by choice? I guess so.
Avis was staying at a friend’s house in the city, but I could have asked someone else out to the SG movie tonight at school, a preview Bill Davis wangled out of MGM.
Mom, Dad and Jonny are on their way to the hotel in the country; my parents are not home very much anymore.
This morning in LaGuardia, we all sat around reading Kingsman. There were a lot of replies to the paper’s “In Cognito” anti-Jewish Student Union editorial as well as my letter. A whole can of worms was opened up, and while everyone from Ira to Craig was preparing replies, I think I’ll quit while I’m somewhat ahead.
The only letter in the paper supporting my stand was from Shelli, though she went further and endorsed Kingsman’s proposal to invoke the 30% rule under which the college President can invalidate Student Government elections when there’s not a 30% turnout, as there wasn’t this time. I believe the rule is stupid and should continue being ignored.
I let Avis drive my car around after we dropped Mike off at his car; she’s feeling better. As she was about to go up to her apartment, she said we might do something tomorrow night.
I had lunch at home and then returned to the college, bullshitting for a while with the nuts in the basement of LaGuardia. When I went upstairs, I saw Debbie sitting with Mikey and Stanley.
I like Debbie enormously and I think she likes me – but something was wrong today; as Mikey noted, she seemed depressed. Debbie said she’ll come to my EXCO course on herbs (Leon’s Kingsman interview about EXCO was very Leon-like), but I should have asked Debbie to the movie tonight.
Oh well, I’m pretty sure right now that I’ll see her again. After leaving Mikey, Stanley and Debbie in the lobby, I went with Mike to a Finance Committee meeting. He was looking for funds for his Downstate program, but the room was filled with everyone from Juan to Stephen Lubarsky from Young Americans for Freedom to Fran Weinberger of Hoa Binh, wanting to get funds.
So then I came home to do nothing for the rest of the day.
Saturday, February 26, 1972
A cold drizzle fell on the city all day. I awoke this morning with sinusitis. But with my usual (ha ha!) stoicism, I got through the day. Gisele came in this morning to do the cleaning, so at least Marc and I didn’t have that job.
I drove to Manhattan this morning after breakfast and I walked around the Village for a while. But the rain and the cold wind made it pretty hard to enjoy yourself outside, so I came home pretty quickly.
I spoke to Gary, who is again a “ski widower” this weekend; I think he’s now totally disgusted with the games Eileen has apparently been playing. We’ll find out what happens when ski season ends.
Marc took me for a drive in his car; he handles the wheel very deftly now. Mom, Dad and Jonny returned from the Catskills at 5:30 PM, around the time I got a call from Avis.
She spent last night with her actor friend Rusty in his Manhattan brownstone but said she doesn’t get along with him very well, as he’s kind of “affected.”
While I was on the phone, Mom and Dad took my car out to a restaurant without telling me, and when they got back I really screamed at them for not respecting me or caring for me and for being away all the time. They were impassive and there was a “scene” which seemed very important at the time but not now.
I talked it all out with Avis after I picked her up and then felt better. We went to the Rugby to see this real awful X-rated sexploitation film, Together.
The worst movie I’ve ever seen, it didn’t even excite me sexually – though afterwards Avis and I did comment on the scene in which a black man’s erect penis filled the whole screen. It was the only interesting thing in the movie.
I let Avis drive down Nostrand Avenue to Jahn’s, where we had coffee. She said she loves Scott and told him so, but he felt bad because he couldn’t reciprocate. Avis said Scott is just falling apart and retreating from the world.
We came back to my house, where we played Risk. Avis hit me over the head with the board as I was about to win. It was really nice to talk with her. But I know we should only be platonic friends, that it’s so much better that way.
After dropping her off at home, I drove by the Junction and passed the newsstand where Scott was at work, assembling the sections of the Sunday Times. He looked so sad and pathetic that I just wanted to get out of the car and tell him, “You dope, there are people who love you.”
Monday, February 28, 1972
A mild, sunny day. In LaGuardia early this morning, I sat around with Avis and Ira. Before English, I spoke to Scott, who seemed a bit more together today, and after class we met Avis on the stairway and he chatted friendlily with her.
In Soc, Bill Beer lectured on Erikson’s stages of man; the quiz is on Wednesday. Gary had some sort of meeting, so I went by myself to LaGuardia, looking for someone to have lunch with. But somehow it seemed that everyone – Alan Karpoff and Cathy, Allan and Stacy – had already eaten.
Then Avis came along and suggested we go back to her place for lunch and I gladly agreed. We bought a game set of Risk so we could play. “I really want to beat you,” she said.
At her house, I met her father, who seems like a pretty nice guy, as fathers go. Avis made us these great fried-egg sandwiches on bagels and we drank lemonade and then played Risk.
Avis was in some pain, as her period was coming on, but we had a good time after she took some Darvon. She got her wish and beat me badly, but we really enjoy our mock-arguments where she calls me a prick and I call her a cunt. Avis is a nice person.
Back on campus, we sat around for a while with Leon and Debbie. As I walked Debbie to class, she said she no longer hates BC so much now that she has some friends. I’m glad if I had anything to do with that.
In LaGuardia, I spoke with Elihu, who was telling me all about the Curriculum Committee now that I’ve been appointed to it. Meetings are on Thursdays, and the student members in addition to me are Elihu, Elspeth and Mike.
In Creative Writing, the class tore apart some poor girl’s story, and afterwards I hung around with Mikey, who’s anxious that Mike or even Hal might beat him in the caucus Wednesday.
I drove him and Barry Fried – who at least shut up about his 14-year-old Perfect Master guru for a while – back home to Rockaway, but Mason came back with me to my house, where we messed around, talking. Then we went out to a pizza dinner and I took him to his first day on the job at the new Great Eastern store.
When I returned home, I got a message that Scott called, but when I called him back, his father said he was out. Gary then phoned with some news about his new car, a ’66 Impala.
Tonight I watched President and Mrs. Nixon return to Washington after what I guess was a highly successful trip to China. And I even managed to squeeze in some studying as I reread Karl Marx and Erik Erikson.