A 20-Year-Old’s Diary Entries From Mid-May, 1972
by Richard Grayson
Monday, May 15, 1972
It’s 5:30 PM now, and tonight I have the Kingsman dinner at 7 PM, and I’m looking forward to it and don’t even mind being decked out in a suit and tie.
Today, was, I guess, a day that people will remember for years. I was lying in bed a little over an hour ago, dozing off at some soap opera when the program was interrupted by a bulletin: George Wallace was shot while campaigning in a Maryland shopping center.
Details are still very sketchy, but it looks as though he’ll make it: he’s in surgery now. But it leaves so many unresolved questions. Elijah and Lisa and I were joking about Wallace just this morning.
I saw Avis this morning; her weekend trip to Bridgeport was okay, she reported unenthusiastically.
Kitch’s final was a ridiculous essay topic, but it’s over, thank God, and I handed him my postcard. After I got out of the test, I walked Mike to his car to move it for alternate side, and we had a good talk, as we always do. Mike and I rib each other a lot, but we’re good friends.
On the quadrangle, I played with Mason’s baby brother and talked with the gang. It was a warm, humid day, and it felt kind of hazy.
Inside LaGuardia, I met Stacy, who said that she and her sister are definitely going to Greece this summer. She said she’d call me later this week and surprised me by saying that she’d already made me a birthday card.
Leon overheard that and came over and said, “Only 19 days” – and that’s true: on June 4th, I will have reached my majority. Stacy was so friendly today, I began to wonder. But she treats me like a yoyo, I think, pulling me in and pushing me away.
Seven of us – me, Gary, Mikey, Mike, Leon, Steve and Alan – crowded into a corner table at the Pub for a riotous end-of-term lunch. Steve and Alan got a little drunk and we all talked and joked and had a really great time.
Back in LaGuardia, I saw Renee, who told me she’ll be unable to graduate until January. She seemed to be her usual sharp self and I couldn’t detect the effects of any marital discord.
We had our final Creative Writing class, and Prof. Galin said he’s giving me an A, so I know I have two A’s this term, in his class and Beer’s Sociology. Prof. Galin is going to England on sabbatical to finish his play, but before that, he’s teaching Modern Drama the first summer session, so I may take him again.
So ended the last class of my junior year; now I am a senior at Brooklyn College. As I remarked to Evan while leaving the campus, it’s hard to believe we’ve been at BC for three years, since that first day of class when we met on the Flatbush Avenue bus.
11 PM. This evening I walked into SUBO with President Kneller and Holly Henderson, and we went up to the Gold Room. Ronna, looking pretty, was behind a table which had on it the name cards of the guests (about 120 in all).
First came a smorgasbord and cocktails, and I mingled. Slade gave me a present – a copy of Winnie-the-Pooh – as well as his address in Denver; and Larry gave me his fall address in Boston, where he’s got a fellowship; I also chatted with Marc Nadel, famed cartoonist, and Jeff, Pablo, Henry and others.
Melvin and Costas showed up in top hat, tails, and sneakers. The whole APO contingent was there, and the Abelard House girls, and of course everyone on Kingsman; all the deans and Dr. Whipple; Aaron and Dick and Bobby and just about everyone not on the paper who’s in Karen’s good graces.
The food was rather awful, but I mostly avoided it and talked with the people at my table: Teresa, Elspeth, Bruce, Mendy and a few of the nicer people from Jewish Student Union.
Karen took the podium, and awards were given out. Jeannette, the editor of the night-school paper ken, walked out when she felt Karen insulted her. Mrs. Passer from the Dean of Students’ office got a standing ovation – and a bouquet presented to her by Craig.
The ceremonies and dinner over at 9:30 PM, I kissed Karen and said goodbye to everyone. Elspeth asked if I could drive her home, and I said yes, on the condition that Leroy not come along.
On the drive to Coney Island, Elspeth talked and seemed constantly on the verge of tears. She’s in a very bad way and I fear she’s susceptible to Jesus or speed (she said she’s seriously contemplating both). I urged her to try therapy.
The latest reports say that Wallace is improving although there’s fear that he may be permanently paralyzed. His would-be assassin is a young social isolate, like Oswald or Sirhan.
Tomorrow is the Michigan and Maryland primaries, and Wallace’s expected victories will probably be enhanced by a sympathy vote.
Thursday, May 18, 1972
When I met Mom at breakfast this morning – I guess that sounds funny, but she and Dad are up at the hotel so much, I don’t see them all the time – she told me about a news story that broke last night.
It was revealed that in testifying before a grand jury investigating the “low exacta riot” at Yonkers, Mets pitcher Jerry Koosman said that Lennie had given him $500 the night of the riot.
The story was played up in the News, Post, Long Island Press and even the Times, and the article made Lennie look as guilty as hell. Mom said he was just being a nice guy and giving Koosman the $500 for an appearance he made at the Male Shop. Dad wasn’t mentioned in any article I read. Anyway, it took Wallace and his paralysis off the front pages.
I took a drive to Staten Island this morning, then went to the college. Leon and I had fun watching Harvey talk to Archie as they confused each other with their usual weird speaking styles and awkward turns of phrase.
Leon, Mikey and I sat talking for a while– if Mikey and I go to Miami for the Democratic convention, Leon will be coming with us – and then we decided to go to lunch. But on the way, Mikey ran into this girl who was in our freshman English class and one of his classes this term.
So Leon and I plopped down on the grass, listening to Mikey give this girl an Eco major’s line, asking her if she knew about “sweetheart contracts.” At that point, Leon and I decided to head over to the Pub by ourselves. When Mikey joined us later, he said he could have made a date with her, but he didn’t.
Leon said how strange it would be next year to be eating lunch and hanging around with a new group of people in Madison, Boulder or Chicago, depending on where he decides on grad school in comp lit.
Back in LaGuardia, Mike was in a bad mood after an argument with Riesa, and Skip said he had the solution to a bad mood: he, Leon and Mike went downstairs to smoke.
I went with Mikey and Avis to bring back some food for Steve Katz, who was cramming for a Classics final. Later, we sat on the grass in front of LaGuardia in the hot sun. Avis is having her beautiful long silky hair cut tomorrow; I’m afraid to see the results.
Marty came by, saying that Ruth’s operation had gone pretty well and she was in the recovery room. When I said I would visit her, he told me not to come until Saturday, when she’ll be more alert.
Avis left to take her test, and Marty, Leon, Mike, Skip, Mikey and I discussed politics and our planned trip to Miami Beach. (Grandpa Nat is back, and he said he’d give me the key to the condominum.)
Back at home, I was pleased to hear that Jonny had made the SP and will skip a grade; the family went out to dinner to celebrate.
It was a good day. My life is like a pendulum.
Sunday, May 21, 1972
Mother Nature fooled the weatherman today. It was overcast this morning, but gradually the clouds dispersed, and by the middle of the afternoon we had a warm, sunny, gloriously beautiful day.
I slept restlessly last night, bothered by a sinus headache. This morning, I had a big breakfast, then went outside to read the Sunday papers – of Nixon’s trip to Moscow, of politics and the antiwar demonstrations planned for Washington today. (Yesterday Leon said he might go down there.)
At noon I drove off to Rockaway and visited Grandpa Nat and Grandma Sylvia. I gave Grandma Sylvia the Mother’s Day card I saved for her return from Florida. She has to use her cane all the time now.
They tried to push some food on me, but I resisted – yet I didn’t resist Grandpa Nat’s offer of ten dollars. They said Aunt Sydelle was going down to Miami this weekend, and that when she returns, they’ll give me the key to the condominium.
I didn’t stay very long, and when I returned home, I gave Avis a call, and we arranged an outing to the park with Scott.
I picked him up first. Next Sunday he’ll be leaving for Europe. He’s going all by himself, with no itinerary – and he half-confessed that he’s cared shitless. Still, it must be an exciting business. . .
When we picked up Avis, I was stunned to see how beautiful she looked, with her hair cut sort of . . . oh, I can’t describe it, but it’s really nice.
Eastern Parkway was closed to traffic for the Crown Heights Street Fair (remember going there last year with Shelli?), and Scott and Avis and I walked around.
Avis bought a twittering bird-toy and I got a balloon but gave it to this cute kid who wanted one; Scott rang the bell on a fire engine and we all looked at the painting, exhibits and stuff.
We walked into the Botanic Gardens and through the serenely beautiful Japanese garden, the herb garden and the gorgeous fields and flowers. It was a really beautiful day – like Scott said, he couldn’t understand how there could be wars or riots in such a world.
The three of us went home at 5:30 PM, stopping off at Carvel’s. While we were eating ice cream in the car, I looked at Avis and I found myself with an erection.
I find the whole situation at once natural and ludicrous. I can’t help my feelings for her, yet she can’t feel anything stronger than friendly companionship towards me. I’m afraid that if I ever told her how I feel, I’d lose any relationship with her.
Tuesday, May 23, 1972
I received two phone calls late tonight which marred the serenity of this almost idyllic day. The first was from Mike, giving me a message from Mrs. D. It seems that the Honest Ballot Association will make their results known at 10 AM tomorrow in LaGuardia.
I’ve got my fingers crossed that it’ll be a routine thing, but I’m prepared for the worst.
The second call was from Elspeth, inviting me to her party Saturday night. I wonder if she realizes why she’s giving this party, on the weekend of Jerry and Shelli’s wedding.
I suppose I shall have to go, so as not to hurt Elspeth, who’s been upset; anyway, I want to say goodbye to Slade.
Elspeth’s big news was that Mark and Consuelo are having a baby – and she seemed upset that I couldn’t get very excited about that, but I just can’t. If having a baby is what they want, fine.
After trying to reach her unsuccessfully for weeks, I got a call from Alice this morning, and I picked her up at 11 AM.
She quit her job with Paul Gillette after two weeks – and gave me a hilarious rundown on his obnoxious ideas and ways – and so she’s going to Europe for the summer, leaving a week from Thursday.
Alice gave me my birthday present today: an adorably charming children’s book, Edward Gorey’s Fletcher and Zenobia Save the Circus, which I loved.
We dropped in at the college, finding Avis in a Darvon-induced stoned and nauseous state, so we stayed with her until her final. Then we walked around a little and finally decided to go to Prospect Park.
We rented a couple of bicycles and rode around the park; cycling is really a lot of fun. Alice and I rode to Church Avenue, where we bought pizza and coke that we ate on the grassy esplanade on Albemarle Road.
Then, returning to the park, we sat by the lake, talking about ourselves as only old friends who know each other since second grade can.
She talked about Howie, who at last report lost fifteen pounds and was living with a girl and a baby (she’s not sure if it’s his); about Andreas (I believe she really loves him); about her brother, working at the embassy in Tel Aviv, with whom she’ll stay in Israel.
I dropped her off at home, then went to see Dr. Wouk. I wanted some ideas on how to prevent “sagging” this weekend of Jerry and Shelli’s wedding. Dr. Wouk told me to go up to the hotel – Mom and Dad said he has shown up twice and they have to give him free dinners – or keep very busy in Brooklyn “or think about me instead.”
He also said to avoid pumping Avis for information about what the wedding was like, and he gave me his number in Greenfield Park if I need to call him.
These next few days will be rough emotionally – but I have confidence that I will handle it well.