A 21-Year-Old’s Diary Entries From Mid-March, 1973
by Richard Grayson
Monday, March 12, 1973
“Why are things so complicated?” Josh kept asking me last night. He had to return a call from Darlene, the girl he was seeing when he was in Tampa.
She’s coming up to New York with Allan, and Josh didn’t want to have her thinking they could get back together again. Because, it seems, he’s got this girl Julia.
Julia is 17 and pretty, and Josh met her visiting his sister at Long Island College Hospital. (The doctors seem to have got Lisa’s Hodgkin’s somewhat under control; she’s not going to die, at least.)
Julia was sharing the hospital room because she swallowed 70 aspirins, her second suicide attempt. (The first time she tried to jump off the roof of FIT.) Josh says Julia puts herself down a lot and doesn’t do anything all day.
This morning, after our Russian test, Josh told me he’d finally spoken to Darlene late last night and she’s coming to New York anyway. She told Josh that all the girls there think of Allan as “just a friend,” that a few of them think he’s gay.
That’s certainly possible. I think a lot of us guys are somewhat gay, obviously including me, but it’s also possible that Allan is just scared after his sexual failure with Stacy.
Speaking of Stacy, she approached me today and I straightened everything out with her. She thought we “never resolved our relationship” but that everything is okay now. I even think I like Stacy once again – but I’d never get involved with her, even if I didn’t love Ronna.
I met Peggy at the Junction, strolling her three-month old daughter Sarah. She’s attending grad school in Classics at Columbia.
Also at the Junction, I ran into Dr. Stone, who inquired about “our mutual friend.” I told him Shelli was happily married and he told me to send her his love.
Ronna had to stay downstairs during club hours, so I hung around the office. Her friend Judy was with her: that girl lives in a dream world of fantasy relationships with Elton John, Felix Cavalieri and other rock stars. It’s so sad.
Avis seemed to be happier today. She’s been doing things with Beverly and another girl, her friend Joanne, who has dropped out of Bennington and is working at Merit Foods.
Costas told me, Sid, and Mara that his date with Sonya Schwartz, the winner of the “Why I Love Euripides Dervis” essay contest, was a total disaster. He took Melvin and Stefanie along and he mostly just talked to them the whole evening.
Mikey told me he called home today and found he had gotten his first rejection from a law school – Hofstra – and that his mother was crying.
After Afro-American Studies, I dropped by the office to pick up Ronna. On the way to my car, we ran into Steve Katz, who flew in from Pittsburgh to take some tests. He says he really likes school there and that Paula is fine.
When I told him about Mikey, Steve expressed the fear that Mikey may not get into any law school. I’m worried about him, too – although I think Mikey may be mentally prepared for not making any law school.
Out of town colleges seem to be off this week for spring break. I also ran into Glenn Madison today, and he said of dental school: “I’m working my ass off.”
The leaves on the trees are just beginning to bud and it seems like a time of renewal.
Thursday, March 15, 1973
Today was rather dismal: dark and gloomy. But I’m feeling strangely optimistic tonight.
For the past couple of weeks, a story – or perhaps a novel – has been percolating in my mind and I think it’s almost ready to come on paper. But somehow I’m afraid to even talk about it here. Superstition, I guess.
I slept soundly last night and woke up feeling cheerful this morning. I’ve been sticking to my diet and I’m a little proud of myself for that.
In English this morning, Prof. Murphy gave us the midterm assignment and it appears easy. On my right in class sits this kid Barney, who was the 1970 Tilden High valedictorian. Ronna, Stacy and Shelli all spoke highly of him and all of them had crushes on him. I’d like to get to know him, but he doesn’t seem interested in talking to me.
In LaGuardia, Elspeth was visibly upset; I think she’s afraid – once again – that she’s pregnant. As Scott said, “Three strikes and you’re out.” Does she keep doing this to get the attention?
I ran into Stacy, who said she “was touched” to get my letter. Avis told me that she and Stacy also had settled whatever differences they had, so Stacy is back in LaGuardia more often now.
Dean Gold has been named a Vice President of the college and the other deans are being transferred to each of the six new schools.
For a change of pace, I had lunch in the Faculty Dining Room with Scott and Linda, who has already been accepted into the Public Policy program at BC. They’ll place her with the government after she gets her degree.
Scott has been accepted at Brooklyn Law and Hofstra Law, but he’s not sure where he wants to go yet and he’d prefer to leave New York. Scott’s now working as a cabdriver nights, but he has an upcoming National Labor Relations Board hearing about his firing from CVS for union organizing.
Back in LaGuardia, Vito said he’s planning a surprise birthday party for Joey and that he and Joey are going to Europe this summer. I’m almost certain they’re sleeping together, but I won’t ask Vito if he doesn’t want to volunteer the information. In any case, I think that’s sweet.
Casey, on spring break from Penn Law, dropped by. Now there’s a man who has everything planned out: a law degree, a high-paying job, marriage this summer, a bright political career. I respect Casey, but I don’t know if there’s any substance there.
Today I got to see Ronna only briefly before she and Maddy went to the printers. This issue will be 24 pages, so they’ll be there well into the morning. But I shouldn’t worry about Ronna; she’s extremely strong and self-reliant.
She told me that she and her family will be seeing a psychiatrist soon.
Friday, March 16, 1973
6 PM. In an hour or so, I’m going to Ronna’s. We’re meeting Rose and Eddie at Gershwin for tonight’s performance of Richard II. I hope this evening goes well – double dates usually don’t – and I have this awful premonition that Ronna and I are going to have a terrible fight. I guess I’ll be on my guard and stop trouble before it starts.
Actually, I don’t know how Ronna can go out tonight. She got home from Williamsburg at the ridiculous hour of 7 AM, slept for two hours, then went to two classes. I suppose I shouldn’t judge her by my standards, though; she’s not a child, and if she says she’s all right, she must be.
Mrs. Ehrlich and I had a really fine session last night. We went over all the things I did – like writing the letter to Stacy and telling Ronna that I was angry last Friday. I’m really getting a lot out of therapy.
Mrs. Ehrlich is not as personal as the Wouks, but she’s not as aloof as Dr. Lipton was. And we are establishing a rapport. But then, I’ve been seeing her for two months already.
I drove home via the BQE and Belt Parkway; it was very foggy and the air smelled of salt water. Around midnight, I called Ronna at the printers; she seemed a bit bored but surprisingly cheerful.
In Russian this morning, Prof. Roberts continued to lecture on Dostoevsky’s life; I am getting so much out of that course.
Josh had a bad cold and called in sick at work, so after class we drove to Kings Plaza and had breakfast at The Crepe and the Pancake. Josh was worried about his sister. They were taking out her spleen today and performing an exploratory.
I’m kind of intrigued by Josh’s description of Julia: a beautiful (“not really in my league,” he says) blonde WASP. Although she’s got a job now and a shrink, she’s still suicidal.
We returned to LaGuardia, and I chatted for a while with Debbie, Avis and Mara until Ronna came out of her class and I took her home because I knew she’d be dead on her feet.
Dad called me and asked a favor. He didn’t have his car, so I drove to Manhattan and we put packages to be delivered in Brooklyn in my car and took them around to stores from Bushwick to Bensonhurst.
While I was at “the place,” I wished Grandpa Nat a good trip; he’s returning to Miami and Grandma Sylvia tomorrow.
My premonition, as usual, was wrong, and it turned out to be a very nice evening. When I picked up Ronna at her house, her sister was all made up for Sing at her school. Ronna and I are going to tomorrow afternoon’s performance.
We met Rose and Eddie at the theater and took our seats. The play was very good: Richard II is a really fine play, and I identify with Richard, who was more suited to be a poet than a king.
Ronna is going to give the production a good review, I’m sure. (I won’t talk to the theater critic about the show because I don’t want to influence her.)
We saw Mason and Libby there – Mason looks fine now, but Libby has been ill with swollen glands – and also Bobby with Ellen.
Afterwards we drove to Jahn’s for a bite to eat and then over to Rose’s house, where the four of us sat around talking. Eddie and Rose are a nice couple although they are definitely a Jewish-American prince and princess.
But if we didn’t reach much depth in the way of conversation, it was still a pleasant change from Ronna and me being alone together.
As Ronna said, just after we dropped him off, about a remark of Eddie’s: “I didn’t think he was the type to say that he liked to listen to the raindrops on the roof at night as he goes to sleep.”
When I took Ronna home, I gave her a big hug and came home to find out that I, too, am someone who enjoys listening to rain on the roof.
Monday, March 19, 1973
It’s early evening and I’m quite tired, but yesterday’s depression seems to have dissipated. Although I’m tired and a bit sick, tomorrow’s the first day of spring and all that. And I did survive today fairly well.
Last night was a restless one. I had a nightmare about drowning and woke up writhing and moaning. I still felt rotten this morning – so useless – but I went off to school anyway.
In Russian, we had a discussion of The Gambler, and after class, Josh said his sister is doing as well as can be expected.
I spoke to Shelli briefly today. I don’t know why, but I wanted to talk to her. Perhaps it’s a way of doing penance; I’ve treated her rather shabbily, I suppose.
In LaGuardia, I sat around with Debbie, who’s apparently seeing this Queens College sophomore, something I think is good news.
When Skip came in, he said that Leon called him last night and said to say hello to everyone. The reason Leon hasn’t written anyone lately is that he’s met someone – a guy – and is having, would you believe, a love affair.
Now that’s really good news: Leon has become a mensch. He says he’s not even relating to people in terms of metaphors anymore.
The noon crowd arrived in the lobby, Ronna among them – but she had to go do work at the Kingsman office, part of the duties of a managing editor.
As Scott, Skip and the others went to hear Badillo and Blumenthal debate, I had lunch at Campus Corner with Vito and Mara. Mara was depressed. “I want success,” she said, “but I’m just a run-of-the-mill person.”
After lunch, we had so much fun when Nancy and Joey joined us. Joey is always joking, though; I’ve never seen him serious. Instead, he’s always saying lines like “Pornography is in the groin of the beholder.”
I brought Ronna her lunch and hung around with poor deluded Judy (she even puts on a British accent) and Costas and Melvin.
After a good Afro-American Studies class on Booker T. Washington’s Up From Slavery – Prof. Mayers said recent documents show he was secretly funding some more progressive black organizations and wasn’t as conservative as we think – I collected Ronna and we drove home.
On the way, we ran into Slade, who said he was so poor, he didn’t have enough money for a haircut – and his Afro did look pretty huge.