A 21-Year-Old’s Diary Entries From Early April, 1973
by Richard Grayson
Sunday, April 1, 1973
It’s a rainy night, and the air smells of the fish in Jamaica Bay. It’s April already. Where have these months gone?
Yet although yesterday’s euphoria has faded, I am quite content with my life. I have a lot of schoolwork to do – I’ve been neglecting it – and perhaps I’d like this coming week to be a little less heavy with things to do. But I shall manage.
Last night when I went to pick up Ronna for Joey’s surprise party, she was not ready on time. Instead of doing what I usually would do – say nothing but smolder underneath and be bitchy to her – I simply told her I was angry.
And apparently it worked, for I felt better right way.
The party was at Barbara’s house in Sheepshead Bay, and most of the guests were not close friends; most of them were not so much Joey’s friends as Vito’s. Nancy was there, and Spezz, and Stefanie and Matt and Mara and Maria and a lot of people from the Student Orientation Committee.
Ronna and I, I guess, are both quiet at parties, but it wasn’t so bad. Vito and Frank brought Joey along on the pretext of going to the movies with Barbara, and Joey seemed genuinely surprised.
The best part of the evening was the opening of the presents, which ranged from red bikini briefs to copies of Screw magazine. In opening and accepting them, Joey was really funny, as usual.
Vito and Nancy danced like mad, especially to their signature number, “Never Gonna Fall in Love Again,” and there was a nice cake, baked by Barbara.
Ronna and I left at midnight, dropping Stefanie off in Rockaway (Melvin went to Buffalo for a concert) and came back to my house, where we lay on my bed.
We started petting heavily and soon I was on top of her, simulating intercourse with our clothes on. She and I seemed to be in real harmony; first she came and then I came in my pants. It was exquisite, and we gripped each other tightly for a long time afterwards.
“I just want you to know. . .” she said softly.
“I do,” I said – know that she loves me.
It was very late, and I was sticky, so I kissed her on the forehead and a little while later I took her home.
The other night I found a poem by Ronna in an old Kingsman, from a year ago, when she was features editor. Called “Here and Now,” it goes:
When it’s ripe
When the chick is still damp
With the moisture of birth
While my eyes are almost tearing
I will hold it for you . . .
But now I am sure
That I know how I feel
At least I think I am
Waiting for what seems years
Will surely shake me
So, now when I can put my finger
On the spot where I hurt
And cry out to you –
I want you to know
That it is here now.
It was about Ivan, of course, but I think it shows what a beautiful, sensitive woman/girl Ronna is. If I don’t love her forever, I will always admire her and respect her.
Tuesday, April 3, 1973
I’m feeling very “up” this evening. Life seems to hold such promise, and I’m really excited about the future.
Yesterday at lunch, Mara asked me if I was going to be a success. “I always ask people that on Mondays,” she said. Last night on the phone Ronna lamented that she’ll probably never accomplish even half the things she wants to in life. Does anybody?
But it should be fun to try. I got some reading done in The Eternal Husband last night, but not as much as I had wanted to because of phone calls from Ronna and others.
Alice phoned. She’s been busy with work and her writing for the local papers, mostly feature stuff. Apparently, Brooklyn Today may fold.
We discussed the fact that Alice has been seeing Andreas for over two years now. She says she’s happy, and I shouldn’t question that, but I wonder how can take just her brief meetings with Andreas in the city; I know she doesn’t see as much of him as she wants to.
But their relationship can’t lead anywhere. Perhaps that’s just my middle-class hangup to think that relationships have to lead somewhere.
Kurt called, saying he was off Thorazine and that he’d gotten a job as a lab technician in the high schools. I feel sorry for Kurt more than I like him.
In English this morning, Murphy gave back the midterms (I got a B) and we went over Donne’s poetry. After I did some work in the library, I returned to LaGuardia to see this crazy girl who was in my Bio class dancing and handing out pink carnations.
Dean Smith came over to me and asked when I was graduating, if I was going to graduate school, and if I’d ever thought of going into personnel work. I said I hadn’t thought of that, but I might be interested, and he told me he wanted me to interview this alumnus, a big man in the PR field, for BC-TV.
I accepted unhesitatingly although now I’m a little scared. But I have three weeks to prepare.
Observing the national meat boycott, I had a meatless lunch with Ronna, Susan and Carl; it was an unlikely combination, but it went fine.
Back in LaGuardia, I overheard Elspeth ask Jon K about Russell, and Jon said that he and Laurie were staying away from Russell ever since he turned up on Jane’s doorstep in Berkeley, proposing marriage.
“Russell’s crazy,” Jon said, and he wasn’t surprised to hear that Elspeth had walked in on him wearing a dress. (Leroy, who accompanied Elspeth to Russell’s house that day, told me he thought Russell looked “cute.”) We discussed whether his being a transvestite should matter if Elspeth really does care for Russell.
I manned the Independent Democrats table for two hours, petitioning for Blumenthal for mayor and Rhoda for city council. Brian is back in town to help with petitioning; he said he likes his job and gave me his address and phone in D.C.
When Ron relieved me at the table, I went home, dropping off Elihu, who had been studying at the library – he’s in for the week from Brown– at his parents’ house. Elihu is a bit of an old woman, but I suppose he’s all right.
Thursday, April 5, 1973
Last evening it stopped raining, and I picked up Debbie and Mandy, and we got to the Ziegfeld Theatre early. Costas was already there, having taken a cab from uptown.
The film about Nureyev, I Am a Dancer, was okay, but for some reason Debbie and Costas started giggling uncontrollably, and then Mandy and I started to giggle, as it was contagious.
Then people around us got upset and shushed us and said things which only made us giggle more the harder we tried to suppress it. So Debbie and Costas had to leave the auditorium until they calmed down, and they missed half the picture.
I like Nureyev, but I really don’t care for ballet. After the film, we drove back to LaGuardia, and all of the Kingsman people were there for copy night, so I had a few minutes with Ronna.
In the car, Costas said he was talking to Melvin the other day about how Ronna and I were “a perfect couple”; that’s not true, but it’s nice that people see us that way.
Phyllis is spreading rumors that Costas and Mandy are having an affair. I think Costas actually likes Julie, but Ronna thinks he may still love Rose, because last week he asked Ronna if Rose and Eddie were “serious.”
Skip learned that Leon’s Wisconsin romance with that guy Ed is over. Leon wrote Skip, “The only way a person can be swept off his feet is if he’s a double amputee.”
I had trouble sleeping again, but I woke up feeling good. My diet is slowly working; yesterday Eddie came over to tell me how thin I look now.
This morning Shelli came by LaGuardia. In inviting Avis to lunch, she said, “Let’s get out of here. This place is hazardous to your mental health” – while looking at me.
I took a walk with Stacy, and we had a nice talk; even Vito has changed his opinion about her. Stacy took Debbie to run through her experiment; it’s funny how they used to be jealous of each other about me.
Ronna was with the others in Manhattan today until late morning. When she and Susan got back, the three of us were walking from Merit Farms to LaGuardia when I felt a presence behind us: it was Ivan.
He looks as good as he always did, and we talked friendlily. I watched him and Ronna together, and I didn’t feel jealous, just aware that they made a nice couple. Maddy called Ronna to the printers, so Ivan and I were left alone.
He’s decided to go back to engineering school and he’s visiting Vicky this weekend. Ivan is kind, but I see that he has problems. Bragging about it like a high school kid, he told me that he has to get stoned every night.
Ivan also talks a lot about possessions, like how much his watch costs, etc. Still, I sincerely like him even though by comparison, I always feel like a mess when I see him.
We didn’t really talk about our both dating Ronna except when he asked, “Do you tell her the movie’s going to start fifteen minutes earlier than it really does?”
I laughed and said, “I tell her it’s twenty minutes before.”
“Right,” Ivan said, also laughing. “She’s never ready on time, is she?”
I offered him a lift home to Rockaway, but guess who beat me to it? Stacy. She always liked him, too.
Josh still looks upset about breaking up with Julia. He told me that they were “too crazy for each other,” but he keeps writing her letters – the one I saw him writing in Russian yesterday began, “Do you think it’s possible to be in love after three weeks?” (yes, I peeked, I’m nosy) – and today he was sending her a copy of Gibran’s The Prophet.
Scott was upset with Skip for being outrageously campy at a séance Scott had invited him to. What I find sad is that Skip views himself solely in terms of his sexuality. Josh says Skip “likes to play with people’s lives.”
I hung around for a while with Vito, Nancy and Joey, who cheered me up so much that I realized I must have been a little depressed without knowing it. When I drove Scott home, he told me he visited Joel at Hofstra Law and didn’t like the school very much.
En route to Mrs. Ehrlich’s, I ran into Teresa. Elspeth had borrowed her Mustang and gotten it smashed up in Prospect Park. I asked Teresa how the car was and she said, “It’s limping, but it’ll get me where I want to go.”
“That’s how I feel about my body now,” I said.
I started to think about how difficult Ivan reentering our lives was. For months I’d been preparing myself as to what I would say to him – all melodramatic trash – but I never got to say those things.
Ivan’s visit was hard on Ronna, and I probably made it harder. Tonight I spoke to her at the printers and I made her cry because I was being so non-possessive, even suggesting she date Ivan, which made her confused as to my feelings for her.
Probably it was difficult for Ivan, too. I hope I didn’t make him uncomfortable by kissing Ronna goodbye when she left for Williamsburg with Maddy; part of kissing her was just natural, what we do, but I suppose part of it was possessiveness, showing him that Ronna was my girlfriend now.
Mrs. Ehrlich said that’s not necessarily bad. As we thrashed the whole thing out in our session, I decided I’ve got to accept the fact that I’ll never be as handsome or easily charming or as well-off as Ivan. I can only be a third-rate Ivan, but I can be the best damn Richie that it’s possible to be.
Mrs. Ehrlich says I’m beginning to open up to her now and getting over my fear that she’ll leave me like Rochelle Wouk did, and the same probably holds true for my relationship with Ronna: I’m getting over my fear that Ronna will leave me the way Shelli did.