A 21-Year-Old’s Diary Entries From Late March, 1973
by Richard Grayson
Tuesday, March 20, 1973
Despite the cold weather, it’s finally spring, and I’m really feeling good.
Last night when I went over to Ronna’s, I was surprised to find her father there. He and Ronna’s mother had been to see this French shrink, Mrs. Klein, about the kids.
It was sort of nice having Mr. Caplan say, “Now bring my daughter home early, young man,” even though he wouldn’t know if I did or not and probably couldn’t care less anyway.
Ronna and I spent an idyllic night in my room, talking and making out. This is really the best relationship I’ve ever had with anyone. We decided that it was Kismet that brought us together.
I took her home at midnight and promptly fell asleep once I got home. I had decided to cut English today, but I went to LaGuardia. The usual crowd was there.
Scott was dressed up to go to his NLRB hearing. He’s been trying to get Mikey to apply to this new law school in San Francisco, but Mikey won’t.
Mikey mentioned that on the Rockaway bus Friday morning, he’d seen Ivan and Vicky. She was on spring vacation from school and they were going to his family’s town house on Sutton Place for the weekend.
I confided to Avis my feelings of inferiority vis-à-vis Ivan, and she said I was crazy, that she found him obnoxious: “You’d walk into his house and he’d show off his stereo, wardrobe and waterbed.”
Mason reported that Leon’s “person” is named Fred.
“Rather a pedestrian name for someone like Leon,” Stanley said.
Avis said, rather mysteriously, “I’m sure Leon’s been in love before.” I think she knows some secret about him. I know that before I ever met anyone from LaGuardia and before her sister transferred to Emerson, something was going on between Ellen and Leon.
Teresa came over to tell us about her love troubles: she wants to marry this guy Roger, whom she met in Manhattan buying skis. The only problem: he’s “swishy.”
“But better another guy than another girl,” Teresa said. Then she reported that her ex-fiancé has stooped to the level of Tempo Dances – and she knows that because Elspeth and Mandy met him at one on Friday night.
An illuminating general discussion of love and sex followed. LaGuardia Hall is where I really get my education.
After lunch with Avis, Mikey and Bill Breitbart – who got accepted to med school in the Philippines – I went to Cutting Crib and got a great layered haircut. When I picked up Ronna at her studio Art class, she said she liked it, too.
I wish she’d wear her contact lens. Everything went blurry on her for a little while today, she said.
On the way home, I bumped into Bill Davis, who says he’s hoping Cliff Robertson will get him a job in the movie business.
Thursday, March 22, 1973
In half an hour, I’ll be leaving for my appointment with Mrs. Ehrlich. I really don’t feel like going, as I have so much work and many other things to do.
Ronna just called from the printers. She sounded happy because the paper’s only going 12 pages this week and they should be out of there by 11 PM. Ronna could use a break like that.
Tomorrow she and her sister and grandparents are taking out her mother for her birthday, so I won’t get to see her. I didn’t get to see her today, either, but she’s always in the back of my mind.
In LaGuardia this morning, I sat with Linda and Craig, then went to English, where I handed in my midterm and listened to Prof. Murphy lecture on The Faerie Queen. Stanley did not show up to class but handed in his paper to Murphy this afternoon after spending the morning doing it.
There’s considerable politicking going on at school, and it appears that Phyllis and Sid have thrown in their lot with Mike for student government president; even Ronna said she’s thinking of running for rep as a Mugwump.
Mikey and Mike were putting up leaflets saying, “The Mugwumps Are Back.” It would be so great if the Mugwumps got in again, and I’d like to be around to see it.
I met Stacy at 12:30 PM and went up to her office in the Psych lab, where she gave me this verbal learning test for her experiment. Stacy said I “performed like a good masculine specimen,” whatever that means, and kissed me on the forehead, leaving me to close up her office, as she had to meet another subject for her experiment.
Stacy said that she and Cynthia will be a part of this spring’s Folk Club Concert: “I hope you and Ronna will come.”
I hung around with Teresa at the Grapevine table; she’s so involved in searching for a perfect relationship with a guy. Nearby, Mandy and Skip were chatting away together. Now they’re an odd pair, I thought, until Skip put on her coat and walked around doing a perfect Mandy imitation.
I had lunch with Susan, who’s very involved with her poetry. Still, I wish she’d do more with her life.
Allan is scheduled to arrive this weekend, so Elspeth and I called his house in Tampa using a phony credit-card number; Allan’s mother said he left around 3 PM yesterday, so he should be here soon. Josh later called me, saying he’s glad Allan is coming but isn’t looking forward to seeing Darlene.
I drove Mason and Mikey home to Rockaway, then came home to study and have dinner. Gary called, very impressed with himself now that he’s working for some Soc professor at Brooklyn and he got into grad school at Columbia.
“Think of the prestige,” Gary said. “It’s an Ivy League school.” My God, is prestige so important?
I’m really starting to get worried about my own applications to graduate schools. What if I don’t get accepted anywhere? I’m going to apply to BC’s M.A. in English program just in case.
Friday, March 23, 1973
I’m not used to staying at home on a Friday night, but it looks as though that’s where I’m going to end up tonight. But I have work to do.
I haven’t started reading The Idiot yet, and it’s due in a week. I’m also thinking of sending in an entry to the English Department’s playwriting contest, the Ottilie Grebanier Drama Award.
An awful lot of strange things have happened lately.
My session with Mrs. Ehrlich went well. First I started telling her my dream fantasies about her: that she was in the Mafia or was an ex-nun. Evil and good, she noted.
We went on to interpret this other dream I had: I was riding a bicycle along Rockaway Beach Boulevard, going from Grandma Ethel’s house over to Stacy’s, when, along Beach 116th Street, a female monkey became enamored of me, hopped on the handlebars and kept hugging me until I lost control of the bike.
In a sense, Grandma Ethel represented all that was good and meek and humble (the nun) and Stacy represented aggressiveness and manipulation (the monkey, the evil Mafia). Perhaps Mrs. Ehrlich was “the monkey on my back”; I don’t know which way I’m going with her.
When I got home, there was a phone message from Allan. I called him at Fat Ronnie’s house. Allan arrived in the afternoon and today he was going to return the car he drove up to Morristown, New Jersey.
I offered to drive him back to Brooklyn but I had to call him this morning and cancel – because last night a bowling ball fell on Dad’s foot and he was in terrible pain and I thought I might have to drive him to the doctor.
It turned out that he took a cab. But the doctor said Dad had broken his toe and would have to stay off his feet for a few days. Marc left today to visit the Bergers in Maryland.
As for me, after class I hung around LaGuardia for a while, then went to eat at this nice new luncheonette with Skip, Scott, Mason and Libby. The others went to Skip’s place to get stoned afterward while I returned to the campus to meet Ronna.
We went to the Mugwump screening in SUBO. When we got there, Mara was being screened by Mikey, Mike, Phyllis, Melvin and Bobby. I hope they take Ronna as a candidate, but she thinks they won’t.
I can’t wait to see her tomorrow night.
Tuesday, March 27, 1973
It’s 6 PM, but I’m completely wrung out, physically and emotionally. There just seems to be too much pressure and too many things going wrong. I’d like to go away for a while, somewhere in the country, away from life’s troubles.
I never have been able to stand too many things going wrong, and that worries me. If I cannot cope with things now, how will I manage later in life when I am on my own? It’s really nothing now, after all – I suppose.
Last night was pretty awful. Jonny was throwing up all night. Perhaps it is a stomach virus, but maybe it’s just a reaction to his friend’s death. That’s a heavy thing for a 12-year-old to cope with.
And Marc is also ill: he has a rash all over his body. Last night Mom thought it was chicken pox, but now she thinks it might be German measles. Marc refuses to see a doctor; in either case, I haven’t had either disease and will probably come down with one or the other – which is just what I need.
And Dad still has to be driven to and from work, and God knows how Grandma Sylvia is feeling in Miami. These things just added up, along with the little annoyances of the day, to make me upset and tired.
I applied to graduate school at BC today, so I should have somewhere to go next year if I’m rejected everywhere else. But what about after that? I read a magazine article which said there are just no jobs for M.A.’s and Ph.D.’s. It’s such a fucked-up world.
English was so boring this morning; I doodled and squirmed in my seat as Murphy droned on about Shakespeare. Since reading and seeing Twelfth Night in eighth grade, I’ve always loved Shakespeare, but that kind of lecture kills the fun of his plays.
It was a sunny, if cold, day, and I sat outside with Mason, who looks better than he has in a long time. His hair is shorter and he looks like he did when he was a freshman and Susan was in love with him because he looked “Byronic.”
Another person who looks really good is Vito. Today I noticed how thin he’s become. He’s lost almost forty pounds, and he looks terrific. “All for Joey D’Atri,” Skip said. Joey and Vito have been hanging around The Boys in the Band rehearsals, so I guess Skip knows that they’re sleeping together.
There’s been a regular gay explosion in LaGuardia. Today Mikey went to the Gay People meeting to get their support for Mike in the presidential election; Leon’s come out; Pablo’s adventures are becoming increasingly overt; and it looks as if Allan is bisexual (Josh said, in his typical sensitive manner, that Allan “is becoming a fag”).
Skip wonders if even Scott’s Don Juan adventures have been a defense against his homosexual feelings.
At this point I am certain I’m more heterosexual than I am gay, but part of me is gay and it doesn’t really matter anymore. Ronna knows something about it and it doesn’t matter to her, I think. She thought I was bisexual even before we dated, and Susan told Ronna when I asked her out that it shouldn’t make any difference. And there should be no guilt involved.
I hung around for a while with Hal. He told me, “I’m glad you’re fooling around with Ronna. She’s one of the few people at this school that I really like.”
I was grateful for Ronna today, too. We had lunch together and then took a walk. It was so nice (and is so nice) to have a special someone, someone as nice as Ronna.
I would just like to go to sleep tonight and wake up in the morning with everything fine and dandy.
Thursday, March 29, 1973
Slowly it’s becoming spring. The days are becoming warmer and milder, and there’s the promise of summer in the air. I’m living as best I can, trying to enjoy everything that’s put before me.
Last evening I met Avis at school and walked her to Roosevelt, where she and Alan Karpoff were going swimming. (Vito said he’d seen Alan in the locker room “and now I know what Avis sees in him.”) Avis said she wears her bikini in the pool but can’t stand the guys ogling her.
On the way back to LaGuardia, I again ran into Bill Davis, who told me that 20th Century Fox picked up an option for a made-for-TV movie script he wrote.
Vito and I hung around the lobby, really talking alone for the first time in months, and I realized what me feel friendly towards him in the first place when I met him last May, on the day Jerry and Shelli got married.
Joey came along, but you know, I’m not certain that they actually are lovers. When I told Vito about the “All for Joey D’Atri” remark that Skip made, Vito wanted to know what Skip meant by that. I just shrugged.
Anyway, beneath the surface, Vito is very caring. He told me not to put myself down vis-à-vis Ivan, saying, “The only thing he’s got over you is chest hair, and not everyone likes that. Even if I do.”
I did manage to spend a little time with Ronna last night, although she was busy at the paper. When I came down to visit, Melvin had fallen asleep on the couch, and I said to Ronna that he looked so angelic, and all of fifteen years old: “I can see why you once thought you loved him.”
“Just for a few months,” she said, as we walked outside and said goodnight. It was about 11 PM when I came home.
I slept late, cutting Murphy’s class, to arrive at school at noon today. Avis and I got into this really heavy conversation with the new head of the Jewish Student Union, Ben, about the “truth” of Orthodox Judaism and “the purpose of life.”
God knows what it is. God? The conversation gave me a headache and I stepped outside and ran into Harvey. He’d come to campus to look for Linda and asked me to hold his medical textbook. I looked inside: what complicated things he has to learn.
Ronna and Susan gave Felicia her birthday presents – I got her a card – and the four of us went to Merit, where Joanne made us sandwiches for lunch. Ronna took hers to the printers, so I sat down outside on the quadrangle to eat with Susan and Felicia.
Stacy stopped by and asked rather seductively why I never smile and would I smile for her. It was embarrassing, in front of Ronna’s two best friends.
Last night Ronna said she was afraid of Stacy, of “what she can do to” me. Well, she can embarrass me, for one thing. But then again, I have to admit I’m a guy.