A 20-Year-Old’s Diary Entries From Early March, 1972
by Richard Grayson
Thursday, March 2, 1972
I feel weary tonight, as though I had been through a lot. It was another springlike 70° day and just beautiful outside.
In LaGuardia this morning, I was with Peter when Ellen joined us. She told me that Marc and her sister Rita were smoking grass the other night in their house; I wonder what else those “kids” do. But Marc is a good brother and I love him a lot.
In English, we read over the Books of Joshua and Judges. After class, I spotted Pam, who said she’s graduating and getting married soon.
When I approached LaGuardia, I saw a crowd out in front, and in the crowd was Jerry, who did not acknowledge my greeting. I asked Avis, who was sitting on the side, to have lunch with me and she said okay.
We had bad pizza for lunch and we got tickets for tomorrow night’s movie at school. Avis is excited about driving her new car, but she’s pretty lonely. Yet as much as I want to help her get through this difficult time, I’d like to have a relationship with a girl that is less platonic and more sexual.
I hope to ask out Debbie. Both Timmy and Mike said, “She’s after your ass.” I don’t know about that, but I do think she likes me.
My first experience on the College Curriculum Committee was interesting. The committee – Professors Kaye (English), Shoemaker (Classics), Eisen (Physics), Verbit (Soc), Lifshin (Geo) and Cantwell (Ed); Elspeth, Elayne, Mike, Elihu, and me; the registrar, Charles Wantman – went over some new courses in Puerto Rican Studies (“Music of the Puerto Rican People”) and Psychology.
I was so tired after the meeting that I went to LaGuardia just briefly, just to give Mike his birthday present, then came home.
It was Jerry’s birthday today too, and I noticed a bottle of Liebfraumilch on the LaGuardia steps. (Later in the day, Gary called and told me that Jerry got very drunk and became even louder and more obnoxious than usual.)
I see Shelli from time to time, but it’s just like seeing anybody else in LaGuardia. I know now that I never really loved her; as Mike said – he’ll be a good shrink someday – it was because of my inferiority complex that I thought only an unattractive girl like Shelli could love me.
Shelli repels me now, and I feel only a sense of a pity for her. She eats so very much, but she’s starved emotionally – and neither Jerry nor any boyfriend can help her.
Driving through Prospect Park this evening, I saw Jay walking to his place. I stopped for a minute and watched him. I really admire Jay; “coming out” must take a lot of courage.
Saturday, March 4, 1972
It was snowing when I picked up Avis at her apartment last night. I met her mother for the first time; I gather Avis doesn’t get along too well with her parents, but then, who does?
We found Stacy and Allan – thankfully, Shelli and Jerry were not there – and the four of us sat together in Whitman Auditorium. Slade was there with some friends, and I told him I’d come to his EXCO course on counterculture literature this Wednesday night.
Carole was sitting in front of us with Irving, and I could hear the gears clicking in her brain, taking everything in as she watched the four of us behind her, trying to figure out who was with whom.
The movie, The Damned, was really good – I’d seen it before – showing moral dissolution and perversions in Germany as Hitler rose to power.
After the movie, Stacy and Allan followed us in their car to my house, where we had had hot chocolate and apples and sat around the living room, talking. It was a pleasant night with a lot of nice conversation (and a lot of sexual references).
Stacy and Allan make a really nice couple; they left at 12:30 AM, and I agreed with Avis when she said it’d be nice if they had an affair. Avis and I went upstairs and talked in my bedroom: she about Scott, her childhood, and sex; me about Shelli, my childhood, and sex.
I don’t know what she wants of our relationship, but I don’t even think she knows herself. She still adores Scott and speaks with him, but they’re apparently not going to get back together.
I told Avis a lot of things about myself that I’ve told very few people. We lay in my bed, and I stroked her hair, but I was hesitant about going any further. At 2 AM I took her home and didn’t get much sleep afterwards.
Gisele woke me when she rang the doorbell at noon today. I did a lot of herb-shopping today and I spent time reading up on the subject in preparation for giving my EXCO course.
Gary told me he is already having trouble with his new car. After dinner, I went to Rockaway and visited with Grandpa Nat and Grandma Sylvia, who were all packed for their trip to Miami tomorrow.
I was tired tonight so I stayed in. I didn’t want to call Avis because I’m afraid of things happening too fast, of becoming too close, of getting hurt again.
Tuesday, March 7, 1972
A mild, sunny day. On campus early this morning, I went into the SG office and found Harvey talking with Mike. Harvey has all but given up on student government; he’d resign as president, he said, but he didn’t want to leave Linda with “this mess.”
Harvey said that Craig will probably get The Alignment nomination: “He wants it so bad he can taste it.”
Sitting around with Peter and Elihu, I decided I wasn’t going to class, and when Avis came along with a joint in her pocketbook, I willingly went with her to the lily pond.
We got nice and stoned, but not wrecked. The construction workers on top of Ingersoll watched us and started singing things like “Fly Me to the Moon.”
Avis and I were joined later by Allan, who smoked with us, and Ira, who abstained. It was a beautiful morning and we just sat and talked for a while and everything was quite pleasant. Ira’s a real nice guy.
I went with Avis to the Junction so she could get some ice cream, then returned to LaGuardia after she went to class. Leon had a meeting of this committee he’s on, trying to institute a film studies major; it sounds good and might also provide teaching jobs for Leon and Stanley.
Renee said she’ll see me on Friday night, so I guess Alice is having a real-live dinner party. I went to lunch with Mikey and Mike, who had just come back from a meeting with President Kneller.
It seems that DESU, a mostly minority group, and Hoa Binh want Kneller to do something about the unrepresentative (very Jewish) student government, and Kneller’s idea was to form a review committee. Mikey said that he’s asked Lisa Scher (of Women’s Lib and the Grapevine) to be his running mate, but she hasn’t yet accepted.
We passed Scott, who was – as usual – flirting with some girl. Timmy said that Scott’s always trying to get girls into bed because Scott is unsure of his masculinity.
When I repeated Timmy’s comment to Avis later, she said, “Scott’s masculinity is the only thing he’s confident about.” I wonder. Avis has got a blind spot about him, but I guess that’s how it is.
Walking to the Junction leaving school, I was annoyed by Shelli, who keeps complimenting me on how I look and shit like that. Somehow I get the feeling that Shelli is interested in me once again; I just can’t stand her anymore.
As I said to Dr. Wouk an hour later, she’s probably itching to play me against Jerry again so she’ll be “pursued” by two men. Well, I’m not going to fall into her sick games.
Dr. Wouk brought up the idea of group therapy, but I’m not sure how I feel about it yet.
Muskie won the New Hampshire primary, but with less than 50% of the vote; McGovern got a moral victory with 35%, with Hartke, Yorty and Mills far behind.
Mom and Dad live, eat and sleep the hotel now, and they’re worried it won’t be ready to open on time. They spend most of their time in the country.
Thursday, March 9, 1972
A cold but sunny day. In LaGuardia this morning, Mikey showed me a letter written, ostensibly by Assemblyman Larry Simon, but actually by Jerry, telling Mikey’s Poli Sci teacher that Mikey was working for Simon.
Mikey also told me that he had seen Debbie and she sent her apologies for missing my EXCO course on herbs. I said it was okay, lots of people showed up.
In English, we went over the monumental story of David; our first test is on Tuesday. I met Kjell after class. Isn’t that funny? I hadn’t seen him in weeks, then the day after I call him . . . I guess it’s always like that.
George Czutrin said that in class yesterday Prof. Galin had said that my “Coping,” despite its flaws, was excellent. And I was scared to go to Creative Writing yesterday because I was afraid it would get trashed! Shelli overheard this and said I underestimate myself and my writing talent.
Avis, Allan, Carl, Ira and I went to the deli for lunch. On the way, I kidded Avis about being with all these guys, teasing her that she was acting like Stacy with her “male harem.”
And she replied that she’d been over at Stacy’s last night and that Stacy had remarked about how everyone had been “shitting” on her (Avis), but I guess that means Scott mostly. For whatever reason, Stacy doesn’t like Scott.
I think Avis is interested in Ira – and vice versa, so it looks like we won’t see each other this weekend. And this comes about just as I was beginning to believe that she and I might really have something nice going. But así es la vida.
The Curriculum Committee meeting today was devoted to theater workshop courses in the Speech Department, and I spoke up at the meeting as I feel out the various faculty members: Prof. Kaye is pompous; Shoemaker’s a fluttery doll; Verbit’s a schmuck.
After the meeting, Mike said he’s quite worried about a Jewish Student Union-Third World confrontation, and not just a word-confrontation, either, but one in which people will get physically hurt.
I drove Bill to the bowling alley for his Phys Ed class on my way home. Bill said he’s been using girls as sex-objects lately – tsk, tsk.
Driving around later, I saw Scott’s friend Marvin working on his car by his house. I pulled my car over and introduced myself (he didn’t remember me) and we talked as he tinkered with the engine.
Marvin said he and Timmy talked to Scott on Tuesday, but that the only way they could reconcile would be if a long time cooled things down and if Scott’s personality changed. Marvin seems like a really together person.
Monday, March 13, 1972
A cool, sunny day. I arrived on campus at 10:30 AM, too late to go to English, and I didn’t go to Soc, either, so I just sat around in LaGuardia, talking with Leon and Alan Karpoff.
Leon’s gotten accepted to several grad schools for Comp Lit, but he may not go next September and instead might work or buy a farm.
The Student Assembly was supposed to do the budget today, but I didn’t go to the meeting or listen to the discussions of Allan, Aaron or the others about it. I’m just so turned off by politics and student government now.
Casey came in to LaGuardia; it’s spring vacation at the University of Pennsylvania law school. Casey looks fine and is as pragmatically ebullient as ever. His girlfriend or fiancée came in and they went off to lunch with Steve Katz.
I had lunch with Avis. I don’t really think that I love her, but I do feel very affectionately toward her. She’s sort of seeing Scott again.
They both came to my EXCO course together, along with five or six others. Today we made some herbal teas and rapped about a lot of things; the kids in the group want to start an herb garden on campus.
After the class, I returned to LaGuardia, where Leon, Mason, Mikey and I discussed how horny we were. Carole gave me an invitation to her engagement party, which is in SUBO in late April. I’ll go, just for fun. Why not?
In Creative Writing, Mr. Galin seemed to like my story; he really praised my writing. On Wednesday we will discuss my play, all 62 pages of it.
In LaGuardia, I saw Shelli with Jerry, and I smiled broadly at Jerry but got no response. I now feel that I’m superior to them; I’ve gotten too healthy for Shelli’s sick games, or Jerry’s, for that matter.
After a coke with Ira, I went home to study for tomorrow’s Bible test. Mark called me tonight to thank me for the birthday card. I met him and Consuelo at Jahn’s half an hour later, and Mark got his free birthday sundae there.
He seems to be a bit unhappy at his job at Newsday; as he said, “I feel like I’m in limbo.” But he really loves Consuelo, and she is a very sweet and loving person despite her eccentricities.
Tuesday, March 14, 1972
It’s almost midnight now. I’ve spent the evening watching the results of the Florida primary. That ole racist, George Wallace, took 42% of the vote and nearly all the delegates, sweeping the field in the anti-busing tide.
Hubert Humphrey took second place with 18%, followed by Scoop Jackson with 14%. They both should be helped. The so-called front runner Muskie finished a miserable fourth with 9% and Lindsay and McGovern at about 6% each. The Democratic race is in a shambles.
But the day for me began early. I drove to school in a pouring rain and took the Bible test. It was all right and I think I wrote a fairly good essay, comparing Jacob to David.
I had lunch afterwards with Mikey, Mike and Allan. When I told them about last night’s dinner with Mark and Consuelo Savage, they agreed that Consuelo was weird.
But Mikey quoted Jerry as saying that marrying Consuelo was the best thing to ever happen to Mark. In response to Mikey, Mike said, “What does Jerry know? Look who he’s going out with.”
Then Mikey looked at me and said to Mike, “You’re very tactful, you know?”
And Mike said coolly, “Richie knows I think he was stupid for going with Shelli.”
I think it was put better earlier in the day by Scott when he said that a year ago Shelli and I were “two lost souls.” Anyway, I really enjoy talking to Mikey, Mike and Allan; we’re really sort of a family or a fraternity.
A heavy hailstorm was falling as we left the restaurant, and as I cancelled my appointment with Dr. Wouk – I felt I needed a “vacation” from therapy – I just hung around LaGuardia.
In the lobby, I talked with Elspeth and Elihu and Laurie and Mason. The latter was really horny today. (I was getting horny, too, especially watching Sheryl at the Grapevine table. I really enjoy looking at girls who don’t wear bras. God, what pleasure.)
I drove Scott home. He was with Avis yesterday, but he says he has no plans to date her again, although that might change. He said Avis is really “getting herself together,” and while he was on the subject, he said the same thing was true of me, that I was definitely more “together” than either Shelli or Jerry.
Scott said that Jerry used to really put me down all the time when they double-dated. It must be terrible to be so bitter: about Elspeth, about his mother, about me. I really feel sorry for Jerry – and for Shelli too.
Wednesday, March 15, 1972
A curious day. This morning on campus, I sat with Avis and Mike and Ira, talking about nothing as we usually do.
In English, Kitch and the class went over more styles of literary criticism. I’m finding myself more drawn to literature and language and stuff and less drawn to politics and social science.
I cut Soc, as did Gary, and we went to the Pub for an early lunch with Leon and Alan Karpoff. Gary doesn’t fit in too well with them, and there was a definite strain. But I enjoy variety, and I enjoy the company of Leon and I’m going to continue being friends with him as well as with Gary.
The Spigot came out, with more shit about JSU this and JSU that. Dean Wiepert told me, “This Jewish Student Union is being extremely obnoxious, trying to run everything, including those of us in the Brooklyn College administration.”
I decided to spend club hours watching Tristana, the Buñuel film Leon was showing. I sat with Mikey and Mason and tried to concentrate on the film despite the fact that the burger I had for lunch was wreaking havoc with my stomach.
Then I looked towards the back of the screening room and I saw Jerry walk past Scott and the girl he was with and sit down. Then I kept thinking of all the put-downs Scott said Jerry used about me, and I got upset.
After the film, I quickly left for LaGuardia, where I met Debbie, who came with me to my Creative Writing class and listened to the class’s criticism (mostly good) of my play. It’s funny: they found things in it that I didn’t know I had written.
Anyway, Mr. Galin called me over after class to stay late. He said parts of the play were “wonderful” and that I had “a lot of talent.” Debbie and I made plans to meet tomorrow and I felt jubilant as I entered LaGuardia.
Bubbling over, I chatted with Shelli until Jerry came and took her away without a glance at me. But I saw her unexpectedly again tonight, at Slade’s EXCO course in SUBO.
Slade’s going to be a great teacher. I really got a lot out of our discussion of Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, which I had Shelli read when we were going together.
Anyway, at the end of Slade’s class, Shelli called me aside and said she felt strangely ill and asked me about my anxiety attacks and if they were similar. She looked awful, and sucker that I am, I drove her home.
But was she really ill or was it something else?
Mike is sort of a surrogate shrink to me, and when I called to tell him about what happened, he said, “I think Shelli is turning off Jerry and wants you back.”
“But of course,” he continued, “that’s the last thing you want.” Mike told me how his own girlfriend said that she and everyone else in Shelli’s Psych 25 class “laughed at her because she’s so fat and stupid.”