A 21-Year-Old’s Diary Entries From Late September, 1972
by Richard Grayson
Tuesday, September 19, 1972
Vito called me up last night and asked me to go with him to Mara’s house, where he had to pick up a book. I wasn’t feeling like it, but bless Vito, he got me out of the house.
We had a really good time at Mara’s house, just sitting and talking in her bedroom. Mara is witty and somewhat caustic, but deep down, you can see she’s a gentle girl. Before last night, I never realized how pretty she is. Today Buddy told me he’s Mara’s first cousin: small world.
After we left Sheepshead Bay, Vito and I rode around for a while. He’s very good for me, as he can always cheer me up. I guess I help him too, because he can’t talk about his homosexuality to too many other people.
This morning I was flabbergasted to read on the Poli Sci bulletin board that I was accepted into the Sex and Politics seminar; of course, Skip was, too.
Before class, I spoke to Avis briefly and she said she wanted to talk with me alone soon. In English, Kitch discussed Salinger’s stories, which I’ve loved since high school. I really enjoy the class.
Debbie was waiting for me in front of LaGuardia to have lunch with her and Mikey. In Campus Corner, Debbie said she went back with her boyfriend on Saturday night. Good: perhaps now she won’t be so clingy.
In a letter I got from Madison this afternoon, Leon said he wants me to watch to see that Mikey doesn’t get involved in campus politics this year so he can work on his grades and get into law school. But as Leon figured, I have to deal with Mike, who’s pushing Mikey into things.
Mrs. D came back into the student government office although Pablo’s still in Cuba for the sugar harvest or whatever. It was good to see Mrs. D again.
I spent an hour sitting in front of LaGuardia talking with people. Skip got a look at Mara’s blonde, leggy friend Chris and said, “A girl like that could turn even me straight.”
Also hanging out with us were Vito and Joey; Kurt, who was job-hunting; Yolanda, Melvin and Morty and that crowd; the loquacious Susan; and others. I love having a lot of people around me, but Dr. Wouk said she thought maybe I was “spreading myself too thin.”
I never did get to talk to Avis alone, as Shelli came along in the middle of our conversation. But I can tell that Avis is depressed; her tonsillitis is very bad and things aren’t working out with Scott.
Elspeth and I decided to have Gary join us as a new student member of the Curriculum Committee; that will be fun. And maybe it will cheer up Gary, who caught a bad cold on National Guard duty at Fort Dix over the weekend.
I drove Ronna back to her house in Canarsie. I wonder if we can ever bring ourselves to talk to each other about our relationships with Ivan and Shelli.
I was really glad to get Leon’s letter. He starts off by saying, “It’s very good to hear that you’ve decided to apply to grad schools in English rather than Poli Sci,” though he said I wouldn’t like Wisconsin: “Everything is empirically oriented here.”
In response to my writing him that I’ve decided to become promiscuous, Leon wrote back: “Please beware that Platonism is the crucial support of the unruptured consciousness.”
Wednesday, September 20, 1972
An awful lot happened today. This morning in LaGuardia, I read aloud a short story I’d written to Mike and Dean Smith. They both liked it, but more importantly, in class, Prof. Baumbach liked it and he gave me some good criticism.
In Bio, I barely was able to listen to Prof. Fried’s lecture, as I sat in between Josh and Scott and both of them kept talking to me.
Cutting Psych, I sat down in LaGuardia next to Alan Karpoff, who’s an amiable chap, a bit sunnier than his twin. Alan was trying to write a letter to Laurie; the other day, I ran into Jon K and was shocked at how friendly he was to me and how he said he’d give Laurie my regards. The Broeklundian people were so cool when I was a sophomore, I didn’t think any of them knew I existed.
Who should come into LaGuardia today but Stanley, his green bookbag in tow. This was his first day out after surgery, and he’s no dope: it’s one day too late for Stanley to register for the term.
Nancy came over and we chatted for a while. I wish she liked me more – but you never can tell. Mara told Vito she didn’t think I liked her – and he said, “No, Richie wants to have an affair with you,” which isn’t that far from the truth.
I had lunch at the Pub with Avis and Scott, Debbie and her dumb friend Mandy (who’s in my Bio class), and good old Gary. It all seemed quite pleasant, though Scott had to leave early.
I think Debbie was hurt that I was paying more attention to Avis. As we got up from the table, Avis said cryptically, “Richie, you’re the only man for me.”
Back in LaGuardia, while Debbie was watching me copy Lisa’s Psych notes, Stacy came over and I started talking to her. I guess that bothered Debbie, for she left quietly; I just turned around and she was gone. I’ve got to have a talk with Debbie tomorrow.
Then Avis and I went over with Vito to his homey apartment on Coney Island Avenue. Vito and Avis are old chums from Midwood, and the three of us get along so well, engaging in conversational flights of fancy.
In some ways, they are my two favorite people, and it was wonderful to be with both of them at the same time. Jokingly (I think), Avis said she wanted to have an affair with me.
Back home, I found a letter from Allan Cooper, who seems happy in Florida. After doing a little studying, I returned to school this evening for Kingsman copy night.
I had a good time going out to eat with Maddy, Ronna, the job-hunting Bill, and Henry. Slade was there and we had a great long talk about writing and stuff. He liked my story and proudly said, “I taught you everything you know.”
After dropping Slade off, I came home to do some more reading. The phone rang at 11 PM, and it was Avis, crying. She says “the same thing is happening again” with Scott: he finds the relationship unfulfilling and he won’t let her get close to him and help him. I couldn’t stand to hear her cry.
Poor Avis. Poor Scott.
Friday, September 22, 1972
It’s 6:30 PM and in half an hour I’m going to pick up Stacy and then Avis; we’re going to Whitman to see Jane Fonda, who’s just back from North Vietnam. I don’t really want to go, but then again, maybe I do.
In Bio this morning, Scott asked if he could use my car to go to Kings Highway after class, so I gave him the keys. After an interesting lecture on death by Prof. Fried, I went for coffee with Josh, whom I like for that no-bullshit way he has about him.
In LaGuardia, everyone was reading Brooklyn Today. Mark’s article on Mike, “Student Activist in a Sea of Apathy,” came out, and I found it hilarious. I don’t know if it was the editing or what, but Mark’s lavish praise for Mike sounded ridiculous, making Mike seem like a candidate for sainthood.
When we walked with Mike to his car, I said to Mikey, “Well, I guess that article can’t make him any more unbearable to live with.”
In Psych, Bart lectured on attitude formation. As we were heading out of class together, I made the date with Stacy, and then I purposely had lunch alone with Debbie, to have a talk with her and straighten things out.
Vito had called last night, telling me that Debbie’s insecurity had “touched [his] heart.” Happily, after we talked at lunch, I think Debbie and I are in for a better relationship now.
Avis was in front of LaGuardia with my car keys. She asked if she could come with me and Stacy tonight. (Scott had told her, “Look for me there.”)
When Vito came over, we began planning a sexual encounter tomorrow night between me, Avis, Vito, Matt and others. Vito and I were kidding, but I’m not sure Avis was.
Alice stopped by “to punch Maddy” for not running her story. She didn’t find her, alas. In fact, today’s issue of Kingsman was nowhere to be found, either.
In his first story for the paper, Craig wrote about the Jane Fonda event tonight and said that Hoa Binh, which is sponsoring it, had previously sponsored Al Fatah. According to Ronna, someone took offense and stole most of the copies.
Nancy sat down next to me and we talked for a while. I think she’s such good friends with Vito because he’s no threat to her sexually. Then I drove Debbie home; she said she’d call tomorrow.
It’s after midnight and it wasn’t a great evening for me. Driving to the Junction after I picked her up in East Flatbush, Stacy said she just wanted a good relationship with one boy, that she was tired of seeing a lot of people. I feel same way now.
But I realized something during the course of the night: I’m so tired of being with people who’d rather be with someone else.
We picked up Avis and the three of us went into a very crowded Whitman Auditorium. The thing was delayed, and we looked around to see people we knew: Melvin with Stefanie; Carole and Irv; Elspeth and some guy.
Then Avis spotted Scott going into the balcony with Timmy and a couple of other guys. She kept craning her neck to see them, and that’s about when it hit me:
Avis would have rather been with Scott than with me; Debbie would almost always rather be with her boyfriend; and Stacy probably has somebody she’d like to be with more than me, too.
In the auditorium, I felt glum and fell mostly silent the rest of the evening, through Jane Fonda’s speech about North Vietnam – she was passionate and sensible and told horrific stories of what she saw there – and then a meal at the Foursome, and watching TV in my basement later.
I feel as though I’ve been giving and giving of myself and getting nothing back but a bunch of people saying “thank you.” God did not put me here on earth to solve everyone else’s problems. I got over Shelli by myself and others can do the same.
I’m sick of being number two to two people or of being number three to three people. All I want is one person I can be number one with.
Wednesday, September 27, 1972
It’s a little after midnight. Tonight I went to a double feature at the Beverly with Vito and Joey, and I’m rather glad I did, as I was in danger of falling into one of my depressions earlier in the evening.
The cat is with us to stay, apparently. He must belong to somebody, as he’s so affectionate: he likes to sit on my lap and lick my face. It’s so nice to have someone who’ll be that cuddly, even if it’s only a pet.
I decided to cut Bio this morning – Prof. Fried sent a guest lecturer in his place anyway – and instead sat around the lobby with Elspeth, Avis and Alan Karpoff.
Elspeth said she was feeling better today. Yesterday morning Stacy had to take Elspeth out of their Art class when Elspeth became ill after taking too many Quaaludes. Elspeth said it had been nothing and she felt better right away, after Stacy took her to the Day Care Center to lie down.
The old stomping grounds hasn’t really changed very much, except that this term WBCR is piped in through a speaker.
Timmy came over and showed us the transcripts of the testimony at Melvin and Leroy’s disciplinary hearing. They both got off with a warning.
Mike and I have been bickering lately, but today I realized that he’s just really upset over the breakup with Riesa. Poor Mike: he’s not used to being without a girlfriend.
I called Gary’s house and his mother said he was still pretty sick although his fever had come down from last night’s 103°. Poor Gary.
In Fiction Writing, we heard a couple of stories. If I thought my stuff was soap opera-ish, it’s not anywhere near as bad as some kids’ stories.
In Psych, Bart lectured on something fairly interesting, but it was so hot and sticky in the classroom that I couldn’t concentrate.
After a short meeting with Prof. Schlissel to go over the American Studies mistakes in the Bulletin, I went to lunch with Avis, who said that Scott came over to her house yesterday and they’re back together again.
But Scott only comes to her when he’s lonely, depressed or horny – and I don’t think they’re going to have an easy time of it. However, it’s Avis’s life, and Scott’s, and I must not interfere.
She brought up the subject of Shelli and how I’m always very cool to her. I told Avis that I didn’t really like Jerry’s wife and I had no plans to go out of my way to be friendly toward her.
Afterwards, I saw Debbie, who was – as usual – depressed and depressing. Perhaps she was just having her period. That’s always the way I figure I can excuse girls’ black moods. I wish guys had that excuse, too: I’d be having my period a couple of times a week.
Skip and I went to the Poli Sci seminar where Prof. Cehelsky began our discussion of sex and sexism. We’ve got a lot of heavy reading, from Engels to Simone de Beauvoir, a big book a week, and the course seems interesting.
In the middle of the class, a black kid came in, announced that tomorrow would be his sixteenth birthday and gave everyone candy. It turned out to be a ripoff: he wanted us to donate money for some trip.
I got drenched walking home from the bus stop and was miserable. However, tonight, being with Vito and Joey and seeing Minnie and Moskowitz and Slaughterhouse-Five (again) cheered me up.
Saturday, September 30, 1972
I’ve got those “Saturday evening blues” again. Perhaps it’s just the weather: today it was cool and rained heavily all day. Winter is coming, and that depresses me. But perhaps it’s something more.
I picked up Stacy last night, then Avis, and we met Beverly at the theater, and Mikey came along soon after she did. Mike couldn’t make it.
We sat in the balcony and we all enjoyed the movie, especially Mikey. Of course, I first saw The Candidate back in July, before Mikey and I went to the Miami convention.
Afterwards, we went to Jahn’s and had ice cream. Beverly is quiet, but she’s a terribly nice person. Avis seemed very happy all evening and Stacy looked nice.
The other day Vito said Stacy “looks like a dyke”; I think he’s crazy. Come to think of it, the other day, Josh said Stacy was “very unattractive,” and I don’t think he knows what he’s talking about, either.
Still, it’s hard to imagine two guys more different than Vito and Josh, so I wonder what I see in Stacy that they both don’t. Or vice versa.
Stacy’s parents sold their house and are looking for a new one in Belle Harbor. Speaking of that, after Jahn’s, we all drove out in the heavy fog to Mikey’s house at the beach.
Avis and Beverly went in Mikey’s car, and Stacy came with me, and as we drove to Rockaway, we flirted and made sexual remarks, although not with too much enthusiasm on my part.
We looked at the ocean in the cold night and then sat around Mikey’s bedroom, talking. I drove Beverly home to Bensonhurst, took Avis to her building, and then drove around with Stacy.
I kissed her goodnight and she kissed back. Perhaps she was disappointed I didn’t do anything else. Perhaps she thinks I’m asexual, the way she thinks of Allan.
I got another letter from Allan. He seems to be trying to enjoy himself, but I don’t think he’s very happy in Tampa. He says the kids at the University of South Florida are “clods.”
I got to bed at 2 AM and woke up late this morning, feeling groggy. When I called Gary, he said he was better and was even planning on going out with Wendy tonight.
Kurt called. Unable to find a job, he’s quite depressed. It’s the same old story.
Avis called and asked me to do something with her. I was looking forward to it until she called to say that the rainy, cold weather was getting her down and she felt a little sick and wanted to stay home.
So remembering Stacy’s invitation to come to her house tonight, I called her. But I’ll probably be terrible company.