A 21-Year-Old’s Diary Entries From Early November, 1972
by Richard Grayson
Wednesday, November 1, 1972
I met Scott before class today. He told me that he’d thought he had the clap, but it turned out to be another prostate problem. As a result, he’s not supposed to have sex or spicy foods for two weeks.
I guess that’s inconvenient, based on what else he said: “Rich, you probably know no girl’s really turned me on this past year.” (No, I didn’t know that.) “But I’ve met one now.” Her name is Serena, and I guess she sounds nice.
In Bio, that scatterbrained Mandy asked if she could come over on Sunday so I could help her study for the test, and I couldn’t say no to her. We had a good lecture in Bio, and my Fiction Writing and Psych classes were also interesting.
At noon, I had lunch alone with Avis, which was kind of nice. I don’t know if she knows about this Serena that Scott’s been seeing, but she seems to have finally realized that a relationship with Scott can’t really lead anywhere.
Jacob, she said, keeps calling her, wanting to sleep over at her house. “But I’m not physically attracted to him,” she said. “He’s a baby.”
Anyway, she said she needed someone to go out with, and I suggested Alan Karpoff. “I know he likes you,” I said.
“That’s perfect!” she cried, taking my hand.
I know Avis could never go for me because she thinks of me only as a chum, like Beverly, so why shouldn’t I encourage her to see a nice guy like Alan?
As for myself, I’ve decided to stop looking for a girlfriend for a while. Perhaps I’ll find someone next year, in grad school. But I know I’m not going to find anyone in LaGuardia Hall – which is where I went after lunch.
Pablo vetoed the budget the Assembly passed, and they’ve got to start over from scratch.
Skip and I went to our Sex and Politics Seminar in SUBO. Today we discussed orgasms and dominance and submission. I really enjoyed reading The Story of O, but I wasn’t turned on by it.
Listening to Skip talk in class, sometimes I think he’s a professional homosexual. You hear about gays everywhere now: on TV shows, in the classroom, on the street. Finally, when being gay seems to be fashionable, I have become more sure than ever that I’m straight.
After class, I went down to Kingsman and sat on the couch next to Ronna. We talked and read the paper and shit, and I was attracted to her very much. She’s not beautiful or a genius, but she’s awfully cute and really feminine in a way I like: soft.
Also, Ronna’s got this great kind of self-deprecating humor that I find adorable. Spending time with Ronna made me so happy that on my way off campus, I even was friendly with Shelli.
Saturday, November 4, 1972
I’ve been studying Biology all evening. Actually, a little schoolwork is a nice change from all the recreation I’ve been having lately.
Last night I found Avis waiting for me at the Gershwin steps, and together we walked to Whitman.
I told her about my conversation with Stacy, how I’d completely forgotten the concert Stacy was giving at SUBO at the same time as the movies, but that Stacy seemed to understand when I told her I’d made other plans.
I wasn’t lying when I tried to calm Stacy’s nerves on the phone and told her I knew she’d be great. To be honest, I probably would have preferred to hear Stacy sing than go to the movies, but I’d already committed to Avis and I couldn’t find Alan Karpoff all yesterday, thinking maybe he could take my place – because with him there, Avis surely didn’t need me.
Anyway, before the films began, we looked around the auditorium to see who else was there: Ivy and Hal; Matt, Joey and Spezz; Elspeth and Teresa; and Ray with a lovely blonde girl – so I guess he’s not seeing The Bitch anymore.
I found Women in Love a bit tedious and overdone, yet it made a lot of good points about sensuality and the importance of friendship between males. Sunday, Bloody Sunday was, even seeing it for a fourth (almost fifth) time, an enjoyable experience – but we left before it ended, as Avis hadn’t eaten dinner and was starving.
Over at the Pizza Den, we had a bite and we reminisced: about our first meeting in LaGuardia (Avis said, “I thought you were the strangest person I’d ever met”) and the last time we’d seen Sunday together, when I was with that Edie girl and she was with Jerry and Shelli, on the day she broke up with Scott.
And she’s now realized – finally, I think – that any relationship with Scott can go nowhere. After I walked Avis home, I thought about it and decided I’m going to fix her up with Alan Karpoff: she’s my best friend and I want her to be happy.
This morning I picked up Debbie and we drove into the city, parking in a lot on West 48th Street. We had lunch in this hamishe delicatessen; Debbie’s gone off her diet, but she’s not at all fat.
Last night she was with Jim and maybe they’ll work things out. I like Deb, she’s a great girl, but she’s not really my type.
We did have a nice time today as I lived up to my promise to take her to her first Broadway show. Parts of Lysistrata dragged, but it was generally good, and Melina Mercouri is such a beautiful, complete woman who was magnificent in the show.
By the time I dropped Debbie off back in Sheepshead Bay with a kiss on the lips (with Avis, it’s always on the cheek), it was already dark. I came home and have been studying ever since.
Sunday, November 5, 1972
Definitely not one of my better days. I slept very poorly last night due to a bad sinus drip. I’ve just been running around so much these past few days, I feel debilitated, ready to catch cold.
Besides that, I’ve noticed that I’ve been getting paunchy and also my face is breaking out – so it’s back to a diet, sit-ups, Stridex and Clearasil. But at the moment, I feel fat and pimply and greasy and generally repulsive.
Today was very windy, dark and grey, which didn’t make me feel any better. And this morning I read the Times survey which predicts Nixon will win “at least” 48 states.
I’d like to be on a tropical island somewhere right now, with a warm sun, cool blue water, and no problems or pressures. My Bio midterm is tomorrow, and I didn’t get much studying done; I just can’t get into shit like genetics.
At least I got out of going to Mandy’s house; I suppose I should be grateful for that.
At 3 PM, I went over to Skip’s apartment for the “consciousness raising” session required for our Poli Sci seminar. Skip had cleaned up the place a bit, though of course the cats were climbing all over me as I sat in that chair that’s suspended from the ceiling.
The other guys, Eddie and Vlad, didn’t talk much at the beginning, and we didn’t really have a topic, but it was a pretty good “rap session,” as they call it. We discussed girls and dope and possessiveness, and I felt that talking and listening to the other guys in the group was helpful.
Skip said something to me that sort of shocked me. “You’re just as promiscuous as I am,” he said. “Just not sexually.”
I guess Skip has a point. I told the group that right now I can’t see myself sharing my life with just one person, and they all agreed with me.
Afterwards, Skip, Eddie and I went over to Trump Village, to wait for George McGovern at a rally. It was freezing cold, and after more than an hour of waiting on a jam-packed, closed-off West 5th Street – after witnessing and participating in loud arguments with Nixon supporters (Brian got into a fistfight with one) – we left Coney Island.
These Nixon people just see what they want to see – and on Tuesday they’ll sweep Nixon into a second term.
At home, I called Stacy as I promised I would, but her lab partner, a guy, was over and she said he was “very distracting” and she couldn’t talk.
Mikey phoned to tell me that Alan Karpoff was so mad I told Avis he liked her that tomorrow he’s going to “call me out” for a fistfight.
Guys are crazy. If only Mikey had told me this earlier, I would have had more to talk about this afternoon at our men’s consciousness-raising group.
Wednesday, November 8, 1972
A raging rainstorm swept through the city today; I’ve never seen it rain so hard for so long.
This morning I watched the final election results. Nixon ended up with 61% of the vote, but the Democrats remained in firm control of the Senate and House.
I feel so bad for McGovern, who didn’t deserve to lose so badly. They say Nixon’s winning all the Wallace votes; Dad says that by ’76 the country will be so right-wing, it will be Agnew vs. Wallace.
And they’re blaming McGovern’s big loss on Miami and our convention and how we came off to the American people. But I was there, and I saw something beautiful happening: us, our people, the students, the minorities, the people against the war, all coming together.
But maybe we were too inflexible, too imbued with the conviction that we were right and fuck the Joe in the street – because yesterday the ordinary guy went for Nixon. Thank God his coattails weren’t very long.
I got soaked going to school this morning; I had to put the car in the parking lot. In Bio, we went over the answers to Monday’s midterm, and I’m certain I got at least an 80.
I went to English and then Psych and finally got to LaGuardia at noon. Stacy was there – a surprise – and Avis and Alan Karpoff were sitting together, and I got the impression that they’d been talking for a long time. I’m glad Alan went from being mad that I told Avis he liked her to asking me for her phone number on Monday.
The four of us – me, Stacy, Alan and Avis – went for lunch at the Pub, joined by Carl; he may be Alan’s twin, but I found him an unwelcome addition.
Avis and Alan sat together across from me, and seeing them as a couple, I began to have feelings of jealousy. I never felt that way about Scott because, after all, he was her boyfriend before I really got to know Avis well. She was just Shelli’s friend when we set her up with Scott.
As I looked and listened to Stacy sitting next to me – she was talking about her two obsessions, California and Joni Mitchell – I realized I feel more deeply for Avis than I do for her.
Back in LaGuardia, I hung around the Kingsman office with Ronna; I think I’m going to ask her out for a date. It’s funny: the other night I had a dream about Ivan, and it made me wonder what he’s up to in Boston these days.
Poor Sid took McGovern’s loss harder than anyone. Even on Monday, Sid was expecting victory. The rest of us were disappointed, but we were prepared for it.
Because of the bad weather, our Poli Sci seminar was brief today, and after class I hung around LaGuardia for only a little while before I drove home, dropping Bobby off at his house in Marine Park.
Tonight I called Vito. I’ve hardly seen him lately, what with midterms and his working on the show. He says he’s been sleeping a lot. Anyway, we had a nice conversation and it was good to talk to Vito.
At times I think I’m living my life solely for other people’s approval. Well, that’s going to stop.
Friday, November 10, 1972
It’s 1 AM. I enjoyed myself immensely today.
Yesterday Dr. Wouk said that she thinks the most important thing about life is to enjoy it. I asked her if that wasn’t hedonism. “Call it what you will,” she said, but implied that as long as we don’t deliberately hurt people or ourselves, everything that makes us happy is hunky-dory.
This morning in Bio I got my midterm back: 85%. After class, I went out for coffee with Stacy and we had a good, open, honest talk.
Unfortunately, she said she’s snowed under with work and didn’t want to go out this evening. Maybe we can somehow make a go of it; I hope so, anyway.
After Psych, I spoke to Avis in LaGuardia. She’d just seen Scott’s new girlfriend Serena. Scott tells me how pretty Serena is, but characteristically Avis didn’t think so; she “felt like strangling her.”
I went to lunch with Susan, Ronna and Henry, and it was a nice change of pace to eat with them. Then I had a second “lunch” (just Coke, actually) with Steve Katz, Marty and Kurt at the Pub. Marty told me he wants to get his Ph.D. in Poli Sci; Steve is leaving in January for grad school in North Carolina; and Kurt is still doing virtually nothing.
Back on campus, Mark was in to interview Pablo for a feature story in the Courier-Life newspapers; he brought Paz the sheepdog along, and we played with her while he spoke to Pablo.
I thought I would stay in and study tonight, but I got restless and went over to Vito’s. Joey was there, and we decided to go, along with Vito’s little brother, over to Gershwin to see a free show of films by experimental young directors.
Because Vito and Joey were so loud they were embarrassing me, I sat with Melvin, Stefanie and Timmy. The films were a bore. On the way out, we met Avis and Alan, who were stoned out of their heads, and with them Mason and Libby, just a little bit stoned.
Then we got Carvel and went back to Vito’s house and ate the ice cream with his mother and their landlord, Lou, and watched The Blob on TV. I feel so comfortable at Vito’s house and I had a really nice evening.
Monday, November 13, 1972
I woke up feeling awful this morning; my sinuses have been killing me for days. I parked illegally – and later got a ticket – and rushed to Bio. Scott was still talking about this girl Serena; Josh said the Kinks concert was good and I should have come to Boston with him and Fat Ronnie.
I was feeling tired and drawn, so I decided to forgo the rest of my classes. As I was heading into LaGuardia, I ran into Avis on the other side of the revolving door. She looked radiant, said she’d had “a terrific weekend” and was out with Alan till 4 AM Saturday and saw him again last night.
That gave my ego kind of a bruising. How can she fall in love with him so quickly and all the time she was with me, it was nothing? Still, as long as she never could love me, it’s better that I’m certain of it now.
I sat down in the lobby and overheard Felicia tell Robin, “You think you love someone, but two months later you can’t remember the feeling.”
“Sometimes you can’t remember the person,” Robin replied.
That’s true enough: when I saw Shelli this morning – with Elspeth, of all people – I felt absolutely nothing.
Paul came in, glumly showing me his induction notice. Paul seems almost resigned, as if he’s accepting going to Vietnam. I told him to contact the War Resisters League, or turn gay, or do something, anything, to avoid going into the army.
I hung around with Alan for a while; now that he’s Avis’s boyfriend, I want to get closer with him – and he is a sweet guy, after all. He and Avis asked me along to have lunch with them, but I declined.
Instead, I had lunch alone with Ronna. Afterwards, we went for a walk to buy art supplies on Flatbush Avenue and we sat around the office, talking. Suddenly, I find I am becoming very attracted to her.
She’s been doing so much work on the paper that she’s been cutting classes; Ronna’s a very busy person. But I think, given half a chance, that we could fall in love.
Later, I was standing outside with Joey when Stacy came by, telling me about her weekend of skeet-shooting. When she left, Joey said, “I can tell that that girl has absolutely no sense of humor.” Alice always says that the most important thing in a person is a sense of humor.
I hung around the office, bullshitting with Costas and Mara, then came home to study.