A 21-Year-Old’s Diary Entries From Mid-October, 1972
by Richard Grayson
Thursday, October 12, 1972
I got a lot accomplished when I saw Dr. Wouk today; she is such a good shrink. Arriving in the Heights half an hour before my appointment time, I walked up Montague Street, looking in stores. It was a lovely day, and people seemed in a good mood.
First I read Dr. Wouk part of Leon’s letter, the part that told me to “do something” about being in love and how he said that “the best and worst of literary people filter life through a fine strainer of literary reference, but instead of the juice coming through, the dregs are allowed to pass through – and the juice is lost forever.”
That fits all my intellectualizing to a T. Like in Alice in Wonderland: “Jam yesterday, jam tomorrow – but no jam today!”
I told Dr. Wouk about my date with Stacy and how good it made me feel to be alone with her on a one-man, one-woman basis.
Then we discussed Mara; perhaps she said I’m a schmuck for picking her up, but that would only be an indication of her own feelings of inadequacy – namely, that she’s not worth my attention. In any case, I enjoyed picking Mara up and that’s all that matters.
And I talked about Shelli – and Dr. Wouk got me to admit I hate her. I shouted, “I hate Shelli!” again and again, loudly – and finally I’m beginning to realize that I can hate somebody without the wrath of the Lord falling upon me.
“You’re coming along,” Dr. Wouk said.
This morning I woke up late and rushed to Bio, then English; I cut Psych. In LaGuardia, Elspeth was stunned by Carole’s asking her to be a bridesmaid for her wedding to Irving.
I hung around the lobby with Nancy, who was her usual self: charming in a conversation and diligent about her schoolwork.
Vito and I went to McDonald’s for food to eat during the EXCO showing of Warhol’s Trash at noon. It was very crowded and I couldn’t find a seat and the projection booth, too, was crowded, with Mike, Debbie, Skip, Elspeth and Bobby.
So since I saw the film already, I used to the time to talk to Prof. Spielberg about applying to grad schools. He said I should go for a doctorate, as a master’s is shit. I’ve been thinking of going to Stony Brook, which is out of town yet within a reasonable distance of the city.
Friday, October 13, 1972
I survived Friday the 13th. It’s now well after midnight.
Last night Mike and Mikey came over to borrow the projector; they’re such an inseparable pair of friends.
This morning, when Scott and I went to Bio together, he told me to sit next to Mandy as he “couldn’t hack it.” Josh told me this girl who sits in front of us keeps looking back and staring at me; I was flattered, but I assume Josh is mistaken.
After class, I drove Scott to Grand Army Plaza, and Josh came along for the ride. In the library, while Scott was doing work, I found and took out two novels by Baumbach.
Back on campus too late for my 11 AM class, I sat down in LaGuardia with everyone. Ronna thanked me for her half-birthday card (I’d sent her a birthday card ripped in half), saying she’d needed a laugh after getting home from the printers in Williamsburg around 5 AM.
I had lunch at the Pub with Alan Karpoff, and for a change, it was nice having lunch with just one person. Alan really misses Leon, I think – perhaps because, like his brother, he and Leon weren’t on good terms when Leon left.
Alan’s a nice guy, not really that dumb; I hadn’t known before today that he used to date Vicky, Ivan’s girlfriend, who he spoke highly of.
After lunch we went together to Avis’s candle-making EXCO course in SUBO. I kind of think Alan likes Avis, and while I should have learned my lesson about interfering, maybe I can help to get them together.
Anyway, Avis gave an informative demonstration for me and Alan, Beverly, Mason and Libby and the other people there.
After some time looking at grad school bulletins in Peter Amato’s office, I went home, taking to their various destinations Stefanie (Melvin’s house, of course), Ronna and Morris.
Last night I called up Stacy to make a date to go to the movies tonight, and when I got home she called me up, saying that when she’d seen me in LaGuardia earlier, I was quiet and she thought I was trying to get out of going. But I wasn’t. It was just that my sinuses were bothering me.
Thankfully, my sinuses cleared up some time after I picked Stacy up. Walking around Georgetown before the movie, we ran into her old boyfriend, whom I’d met at the Folk Club concert last spring.
It was one of those strange meetings of ex-lovers: he and Stacy talked blandly for a couple of minutes as his date and I smiled stupidly at one another.
The movie, Funny Girl, was very good, thanks to Barbra Streisand, and I had my arm around Stacy and nuzzled her a little through the whole movie.
We came back to my house just as Marc was coming back from a date with Rita, and we had snacks together in the kitchen. After Marc went upstairs, Stacy and I went down to the basement and made out on the couch.
I was aroused and enjoyed it a lot, but Stacy took my hand away from her bare breast, so I didn’t go any further. I don’t love Stacy, but I like her a lot – and it’s so good to be able to kiss and hold and hug tightly another human being again.
I need to get to sleep. Tomorrow I’m picking up Debbie at noon and we’ll drive into the city and get tickets for Lysistrata at the box office.
Debbie’s upset because Jim is going to Washington for the weekend and she told me she’s afraid he’d “meet a girl who’d become special to him.” What fools we mortals be!
Tuesday, October 17, 1972
I’m feeling kind of depressed tonight. Sometimes I think I expect too much from life. It’s just a lot of things piling up: schoolwork, a cold I’m getting, the wintry weather, a general lack of communication with anybody, including myself.
There are days like this when I’d like to chuck the whole college pit, jump in a car and move as far from this city as possible. To see South Carolina fields at dawn, the ocean off the Florida coast, the mountains upstate, trees, birds, tranquility.
But there are other considerations in life.
I’ve been working on a story for Fiction Writing; it’s rather poor, a rushed job. I really can’t write anymore.
I had the tires put on my car today, so Mom drove me to school, where I had coffee at Sugar Bowl with Avis, who’ll be working at the lingerie store every day this week.
She spent Saturday night at Scott’s house; this weekend, it’s her parents who are going away, and I guess she’ll have Scott stay over.
If they’re relationship is good, fine – but I realized that Avis asks for a lot of the shit she takes from Scott. I almost think she’d run the other way if some guy came along who’d love her and be good for her.
In English, we discussed Bellow’s Seize the Day. I read it one sitting over the weekend, and it moved me a lot.
As we left class, Mason said he wanted to visit Leon this weekend, and he might go to Madison with Skip, who came in today zonked out on Quaaludes. Well, at least he found out he doesn’t have syphilis.
Stanley stopped by, on his way to a film screening at the Museum of Modern Art. He still thinks McGovern will win. Aside from Lou, Stanley is the only one who thinks that. I don’t even think Brian, who’s the McGovern coordinator in the 43rd A.D., believes the Democrats have a chance against Nixon.
Stacy and I talked briefly; she wanted me to come to her Psych lab to watch her rat, but I declined. When we meet in LaGuardia, Stacy isn’t at all affectionate – but I guess neither am I.
Still, I want to sleep with her. It’s been a whole year since I’ve been with a woman, surely enough time to be without sex.
Laurie came in to fetch Jon K, who’s working at the Day Care Center and she was friendly to me, saying she’s taking the GREs and wants to go to grad school.
Alan was there, and she asked him about Charlie’s arrest this summer, something I hadn’t heard about before. Charlie tended to wear pants or shorts with holes in them, and he doesn’t wear underwear a lot, and a cop saw his penis hanging out of his shorts or something.
After Laurie left, Alan remarked that she looks so much better now that the tragedy with her poor little sister is finally over.
I had a late lunch with Vito, and then we sat on the grass with Yolanda, Celeste and Mara. Mara is always in such a hurry, it’s no wonder she gives the impression of being a snob.
I was cool to Debbie, mostly because I couldn’t tolerate the sight of bubble-gum bubbles coming out of her silly mouth. I’m a grouch today, I admit it.
Won’t anything ever make me completely happy? Even for a little while?
Friday, October 20, 1972
It’s 7 PM and I’m going out soon.
Today was one of those days when life seems to resemble a comedy of manners more than anything else, or a chapter in one of those great, sprawling 19th century novels, like Dickens or Thackeray. But that form, so says Prof. Baumbach, is dead.
I had a toss-and-turn night, and it seemed like I had an erection that lasted for a full eight hours; somehow I woke up wearing an undershirt and no briefs. It was frigid this morning when I took the bus to the Junction, where I had breakfast at Jentz with Teresa.
Teresa says she still hasn’t gotten over her ex-fiancé Ted. Do people ever “get over” these things? Teresa also mentioned that Skip was making passes at Bobby during the screening of Trash. “It’s the muscles,” I said. Bobby told me that Pablo seems to keep trying to look down his shirt at his chest.
I met Avis at 9 AM and she came along to sit in on our Bio class, where we began our discussion of human sexuality. Josh keeps telling me this girl in front of us is constantly giving me the eye; she’s not bad-looking, either.
Scott has his Law Boards tomorrow and he’s really nervous, and so is Mikey.
Back in LaGuardia, I met Stacy as we had planned, but when I asked her if she wanted to do anything tonight, she said she was “going out.” I tried to remember what Dr. Wouk always says and I didn’t take it as a personal affront.
Stacy and I went out for coffee and afterwards I went with her to buy strings for her mandolin or dulcimer or whatever it is. Back at LaGuardia, she started talking to Shelli, so I went to class early.
I got 19.5 out of 20 on Bart’s Psych midterm. What a goof.
We had a fascinating discussion about the upper class. When I mentioned Mary McCarthy’s The Group as a novel about a group of Vassar girls, Bart said I should say “women,” not “girls”: “You wouldn’t say ‘Harvard boys,’ would you?”
When I returned to LaGuardia, Stacy and Shelli were still sitting together, so I went down to Kingsman and hung out with Ronna and Susan, who were such good company that I didn’t mind staying there.
I passed Scott’s old Orthodox girlfriend in the hall and noticed an engagement ring on her finger. Wow, a determined woman always gets what she wants.
When Avis, Beverly and I had lunch in Campus Corner, Avis had a fit of laughter that was really weird. We were discussing our ideal mates, and Avis said, “I’m your ideal woman,” to me.
“You’re too skinny,” I said.
In the Student Government office, I helped Lisa and Mrs. D move some heavy electric copying equipment, and then I chatted with Dean Smith about herbs; he knows a little bit about everything, it seems.
Then I went with Vito and Joey to McDonald’s, where we met Riesa and her friend. We ate together, and I realized Riesa is a lot more fun than I thought when she was going out with Mike.
“I gave Mike a lot of trouble,” Riesa said.
“He still thinks very highly of you,” I told her.
It’s the same old story, a fight for love and glory, a case of do or die – as time goes by. . . And the time is going by now, and Avis will be here soon.
It’s so late, around 3 AM, it’s practically time for me to get up.
At 8 PM Avis picked me up and we drove over to Bensonhurst to pick up Beverly, then parked near the college, where Fantasia was playing at Whitman. We got our tickets for the second show early and waited in the lobby . . . and waited . . . and waited.
The crowd was packed into the lobby like sardines, and after a while, air sort of gave out and we became faint and headachy. Finally the doors opened and we were swept along into the theater.
While that was happening, I was having my first anxiety attack in months; the crowd was so ugly at points. I remembered a quote I found the other day, reading an old letter – from Jerry, of all people: “Assume as much humanity as possible.”
But is it possible to assume humanity in this crowded, noisy, littered, uncaring city? I wonder.
Sitting in front of us were Timmy and a girl, Melvin and Stefanie, and Kurt – who had all sneaked in the auditorium early. Perhaps the only way to remain civilized: use the back door.
The film started at 11 PM and I enjoyed the music and animation, but it was putting me to sleep. (Or maybe it was the grass that seems indispensable when you watch Fantasia.)
At intermission, I got up from my seat, telling Avis I needed to pee and would be right back. While I was exiting the men’s room, some guy just missed throwing up on me. Upstairs were Vito and Nancy and Joey and Spezz, who was drunk and said he was trying to rape Nancy.
As Nancy, Joey, and Spezz went downstairs, Vito told me that Nancy “was coming on strong to Joey” and that he was “going to put a stop to that.” Poor Vito: he’s afraid of any of his friends having sexual relationships, thinking that we won’t be with him so much.
Maybe that was why Vito told me that he’d seen Stacy there with another guy. Thankfully, I didn’t run into her before we got back to the car and Avis, Beverly and I went to the Foursome to get a very late bite to eat.
When Avis dropped me off at home at 2:30 AM, I found a message on my desk that Elihu had called from Providence. I wonder how things are going for him at Brown.
I need sleep.