A 21-Year-Old’s Diary Entries From Early October, 1972
by Richard Grayson
Sunday, October 1, 1972
A lot of shit has happened and I’m feeling shaken and emotionally confused.
Last night I spoke to Vito, and he was upset that he would see his old boyfriend Anthony at the Newman Club dance and he was afraid there’d be a big scene and all.
As it turned out, Anthony didn’t show up to the dance, and that was the only good thing that happened last night.
Just as I was leaving for Stacy’s, Scott called me, saying that his friend couldn’t make it to the Film Festival and he wanted me to go along with him. I told him that I was busy but that she should call Avis.
Scott told me that he’d already called Avis before me, but she was going out with Jacob. That took me aback because Avis had pretty much lied to me so she could go out with Jacob, and when I arrived at Stacy’s, I was already a bit out of it.
She and her sister and I sat around for a while, then Stacy and I went to her bedroom and hung out, just talking. She said her parents were home and that we should go to my house.
We did, and in my bedroom, I finally made the first move and kissed her. We kissed and petted heavily, but damn it, I couldn’t get it up for anything. I was enjoying it, but the more I tried to will an erection, the more it stayed limp.
Stacy realized something was wrong, and I gave her some story about my being close to another girl. Am I impotent? I never had any trouble with Shelli, but that was so long ago.
I was nervous, of course, about Stacy’s expectations. Or maybe it’s just that I’m gay after all. Or perhaps it’s that I don’t find Stacy that desirable.
She did say I had a nice body and was a good kisser, and I thought her breasts, though small, were quite nice. (She wears a bra, saying her gynecologist told her to, that it’s better for women to wear them.)
But it didn’t feel loving, the way it was with Shelli. I felt as though Stacy didn’t care who I was. And then, as we lay there in my bed, she started to tell me about these other guys who were not good lovers.
She said Allan had tried to screw her once and prematurely ejaculated on her thigh before entering her, and nothing ever happened between them again. Will it be the same with me?
I took her home and kissed her a lot, but I just felt crushed and didn’t sleep all night.
Josh picked me up this morning and we spent the day in Manhattan, at the flea markets in Chelsea, at a pizzeria, and getting stuck in the Steuben Day parade.
Josh is a nice guy, but I wasn’t good company. He doesn’t like Stacy at all, partially from knowing her through Allan. When I hesitatingly told Josh the story about Allan that Stacy had told me in bed last night, he said, “So her idea of foreplay is telling you about all your friends who’ve been impotent with her?”
On the phone late this afternoon, Avis explained that Jacob didn’t call her until after she’d called me to cancel. I guess I believe I her. And Avis and Jacob were in Z, the Greek restaurant, when Scott walked in with some girl.
Seeing Scott with that girl upset Avis so much she proceeded to get very drunk and she said she and Jacob had a terrible night and she wished she had stayed home after all.
What a fucking crazy world!
Monday, October 2, 1972
“What a dreary compromise is life!” Tonight my phone did not ring, and I didn’t feel like calling anyone, especially not Stacy, who’s the person I really should call.
So I spent the evening absorbed in schoolwork. For English, I read Mailer’s “The Man Who Studied Yoga,” about “a man who seeks to live in such a way as to avoid pain, and succeeds merely in avoiding pleasure.”
Am I such a man?
I didn’t see Stacy today although I did try to catch her at 6 PM when her Psych lab ended. Does she think me a fool or weak or what? And I don’t know what my feelings are toward her. I don’t think I could love her; at times I wonder if I even like her.
But perhaps if things had gone differently and I had made it with her, my feelings would be stronger and more loving toward her. I don’t know.
In Bio this morning, Scott told me about his meeting Avis and Jacob at Z on Saturday night. He was upset that I didn’t call him yesterday because he wanted to go with Josh and me into Manhattan.
In Fiction Writing, we heard a rather good story, and in Psych we had a lecture on cognitive dissonance. After my last class, I had lunch with Debbie, her pea-brained friend Mandy, and Renee.
Renee’s final annulment papers haven’t come in yet, but they will soon, and she said she’s much better than she was last week but that the whole thing has been a strain. She presented a cautionary tale about marriage for Debbie and Mandy; I didn’t need one.
Later, after our lunch party broke up, Debbie told me she’s worried about Scott hurting Mandy now that he’s started flirting with her in and out of our Bio class. Debbie said that at first she herself was attracted to Scott, but now she can’t stand him, especially after noticing how shabbily he treats Avis.
Avis was working in the lingerie store today, so I missed seeing her, and I didn’t see Gary or Vito, either.
At the Assembly meeting, where I’m something of an elder statesman by now, the various student groups’ spokespersons requested restoring their funds which were cut by the Finance Committee.
After last week, the Assembly was surprisingly orderly and well-mannered today, even if the Jews sit on one side and the blacks and Puerto Ricans on the other. I helped Henry with his notes on the meeting.
Back at home, I played with Morris until one of Marc’s friends came over, along with her neighbors, our twin step-cousins whom I hadn’t seen in years, to take him to keep at her house; I’ll miss that lovable old cat.
Wednesday, October 4, 1972
Another late evening; it’s midnight now. Perhaps I’m leading too active a social life, but God, let me enjoy myself while I can. I’m really happy with all my friends at college, and it will all be over in June. When they tell college students that these are the best years of your life, they’re probably right.
This morning I concentrated on my classes, studying early and then attending a Bio lecture on genetics, going over another kid’s short story in English, and then going to the last Psych class before Friday’s test.
When I arrived at LaGuardia at noon, I was hungry. Avis had gone to work and Debbie was nowhere to be found, so Gary and I had lunch at the deli by ourselves.
He told me Eileen wrote him this quite affectionate note. This weekend, she’s coming in from Boston, where she’s teaching, and he hopes to see her.
After the meal, Gary went home, and I decided to mosey over to the Assembly meeting, where Stuie put me to work as secretary again. Like every Assembly I’ve seen, this group pretty much blew the budget.
The blacks and Puerto Ricans are very docile and silent, and the Jewish Student Union seems firmly in control, leaving the campus Jewish groups well-financed this term. I’d talk to Pablo about what’s going on if I could ever find him.
Handing my Assembly duties to Ronna, God bless her, I had to rush back to LaGuardia to try to find Lisa, to whom I’d lent my Psych notebook. She was nowhere to be found, so I hurried off to my Poli Sci seminar. Ms. Cehelsky seems friendlier now, and I enjoyed the class today – but that research paper will be murder.
Back in LaGuardia, I retrieved my notebook from Lisa. Debbie’s boyfriend Jim came by with some problems about the Used Book Exchange. I helped him out and afterwards he shook my hand and introduced himself.
I said I knew who he was, that I was Debbie’s friend Richie. “You’re Richie?” he said. But he seemed nice – and when I drove Debbie home about an hour later, she said Jim had told her I was nice and good-looking, too.
I came home for dinner, then went right back to LaGuardia for copy night. I rewrote my SUBO story and talked with the gang. Karen and Slade both came by tonight, and Elspeth dropped in, specifically to see Slade.
Vito and I drove Nancy home – she’s always studying – then came back, only to be put to work by Bruce labeling some evening division mailing. We all sat around bullshitting; the highlight of the evening was watching Bruce give Maddy a huge hug and kiss.
I drove Elspeth home – despite everything, she really is a sweet kid – and of course Vito, who embarrassed me terribly with a lady gas station attendant, but I never laughed so much.
Friday, October 6, 1972
Last night, after getting tired of studying, I drove over to Kings Plaza and found Mara working at the handbags counter at Alexander’s. I asked her if she wanted a ride home and she said sure, and to wait for her upstairs at 9:45 PM.
So I read more of Philip Roth’s wonderful The Breast as I waited for Mara in front of Smuggler’s Attic and took her home to Sheepshead Bay. Mara doesn’t talk much – people think she’s unfriendly – and I nervously carried the conversational ball.
Anyway, I came home feeling proud of myself, for doing something I was afraid to do: take the risk of trying to get friendly with someone I really like.
After a Bio lecture on sexuality at 9 AM today – Prof. Fried said what Dr. Wouk told me yesterday, that we’re all basically bisexual – I went for coffee with Avis and Mandy.
Mandy will never be an intellectual – and perhaps because of that, she’s an honest person, someone I feel I could trust completely.
Avis asked me if I wanted to go to the movies with her and Beverly tonight, but I declined. Tomorrow night we’re going together to her sister’s party – and I’m not very thrilled about going to Morningside Heights, considering all the killings there lately.
My Psych test was okay, and after class, I asked Stacy to go see Dr. Zhivago with me tonight – and she said okay. I do like her and I do find her attractive. I’m debating whether to be honest with Stacy and tell her everything about last weekend, how I couldn’t get an erection, or to just keep quiet.
In LaGuardia, Vito was making a list of famous actors who would play everyone in LaGuardia Hall for a BBC serial, and he said he cast Michael Dunn, the dwarf, for my part.
At lunch with Susan, I listened to her talk nonstop – but it was interesting talk. She sees herself as the 20th century female Lord Byron.
I went to a meeting with Mike, Mikey, Bobby, Mason, Libby and Bill Breitbart planning “BROCO,” a newspaper they want to put out. Then I went back to LaGuardia to chat with Melvin and Stefanie and Matt and Yolanda before leaving home.
While I was eating dinner, Scott called. He was lonely and wanted to do something, and he had called Avis’s house and said her mother was cold to him. I suggested he call Mandy, but I don’t know if he did.
At Stacy’s house, I found her trying to help her mother with an experiment for Mrs. F’s Science 1 lab. We went to Kings Plaza and I paid for both of us. The movie was long but very beautiful.
During the film, while Zhivago and Lara were contemplating their fate, I put my arm around Stacy and caressed her soft shoulders. I looked closely at her: she’s not beautiful in the classical sense, but her face is handsome and she has a good body; clear skin; soft, small breasts; nice legs.
It was 12:30 AM when the film ended. We walked up to the roof parking lot and because it was raining hard, we ran to the car, me putting my jacket over her.
We were both sleepy, so I took her home straight-away; as we said goodnight, we kissed and held each other. I got several erections during the evening, at the movies and in the car, so I guess last Saturday’s problem was not such a big deal.
I suppose I could fall in love with Stacy, if only I wasn’t the type of person who goes into everything so cautiously.
I feel exhilarated now, no longer sleepy, and I like hearing the hard rain hit my window.
Wednesday, October 11, 1972
It’s been a long day for me. After seeing all my grandparents in Rockaway last night and then taking Mara home from work – she said “Bless you” but took my coming to pick her up matter-of-factly – I was tired, and I woke up too late today to go to Bio and then decided to skip Fiction Writing.
I met Avis in LaGuardia and we went for coffee. She told me at the Film Festival last night, people booed and walked out on the Godard movie with Jane Fonda.
Avis said things with Scott weren’t back to what they once were, and I thought about what Timmy said to me yesterday, that Scott is just using her and that she’s a fool if she thinks anything else. I know that Avis has been getting stoned a lot lately. Drunk, too.
In Psych, Bart started the topic of social stratification, and after class, I met Avis again and we went with Debbie to the deli for lunch. Yesterday Debbie saw Stacy give me a form to get play tickets, so today Debbie suggested, and I said okay, that we go to buy tickets on Saturday to see Lysistrata.
It was a nice lunch, with good talk; Debbie and Avis seem to like each other. Because it was such a mild, sunny day, Debbie and I sat outside in front of LaGuardia after we walked Avis to the lingerie store.
Slade came by, with Marc Nadel – to say goodbye, as they’re leaving on Saturday for their extended tour of Europe. Slade gave me an envelope containing a candy egg and a note: “The eggs’ warmest hi to BC’s oldest returning veteran.” It makes me sound like an institution, but he’s a good man, that Slade.
After Debbie went to class, Shelli came by, smiled warmly and sat down. She told me about her part in Hair and other stuff. Shelli was trying to be nice and I did my best to reciprocate.
Our Poli Sci seminar was very good today. Ms. Cehelsky was saying that there’s no use to Women’s Liberation, or any liberation, if we still operate in an inhuman, fact-oriented society.
I hung around the Kingsman office for a while, mostly speaking with Ronna, and then I had supper with Vito, who said, “Mara thinks you’re a schmuck but she’s glad you pick her up at work.”
I was very hurt by that, and of course I won’t do it anymore. Still, I tried and took a risk – and Dr. Wouk would say that was the important thing.
I got a letter from Leon in which he wrote, “I can’t recall one day that you weren’t in love.” (I told him I was in love with somebody or other, whoever it was that day.)
“Now it is up to you to do something about it,” Leon continued. “Don’t write about it – do something about it.”