A 21-Year-Old’s Diary Entries From Mid-April, 1973
by Richard Grayson
Monday, April 9, 1973
Last night when we were in my room, petting heavily, Ronna had an orgasm, but I couldn’t come, and we both got tired from the effort.
Lying next to me, Ronna said, “I understand how you feel: like a kid who’s run home three miles for dinner only to find it’s not there. But Mother loves you anyway.”
The resentment I had felt melted away when she said that. “Understanding how we feel is the most important thing,” I told her.
And as I was putting on her coat, she said, “I know you don’t like me to say it – but I can take care of myself, you know. I love you. Even if I don’t say it much.”
I awoke early this morning and thought I looked good; I have accepted that I’m a vain person and will probably always be that way.
When I got to LaGuardia, I found its front entrance splattered with red paint, and the men from Buildings and Grounds were working to remove it.
Probably it was another Jewish protest for the non-cancellation of classes for the last two days of Passover, the red paint symbolizing the lambs’ blood on the houses of Egypt (in Exodus).
Prof. Roberts led a discussion of The Idiot in class today; undoubtedly, Dostoevsky in Translation is the best course I’ve taken in four years of college. I walked Josh to the subway after class; he’s seeing Julia again, but he isn’t talking very much about it.
Back in LaGuardia, Stanley showed Alan and me another film article he wrote for the Columbia Spectator. People were in and out of LaGuardia during the noon rush; I walked outside to talk with Ira. He didn’t apply to any graduate schools and doesn’t know what he’s going to do next year.
Ronna came along, and we walked Stefanie to the bank; she and Ronna may go biking to Cape Cod this summer. On Hillel Place, I ran into Saul, who looked terribly scuzzy and who said he’s taken a leave of absence.
Ronna and I had our lunch behind the library. She told me that Edie, the girl I took to the movies at Kings Plaza to see Sunday, Bloody Sunday the night I met Jerry and Shelli and Avis last winter, was living with Leroy now – and that she’s slept with Hal.
Ronna also said that Robin is dating Pablo, but Vito tells me that John always sees Pablo at the GAA Firehouse in the Village.
Prof. Mayers canceled class today, so I went for tea with Vito and Timmy, did a couple of hours’ work in the library, and then came home.
Wednesday, April 11, 1973
It’s midnight now, and I’m feeling better than I did yesterday. Today I didn’t get a speeding ticket or a parking ticket, let alone both like I did yesterday. Maybe all the bad stuff happened in one day?
I woke up feeling refreshed this morning and went off to school. In Sugar Bowl, I had coffee with Mikey, Bobby and Debbie.
Debbie says she won’t vote for Mike for SG president because she doesn’t like him or his methods; she says Mike is an egomaniac and that power will only make him worse.
I have to admit that Mike sometimes does fancy himself as the savior of humanity, but he does get a lot of things done.
The Russian test was fair, Josh and I decided after class as I walked him to the subway. Back in LaGuardia, Rhoda Jacobs came by and asked Mike if anyone would help her get petitions in the cafeteria for her City Council race, and I agreed to go with her.
We went to Boylan and Whitehead and approached over a hundred people and got only four signatures. People were too involved in important things, like playing cards or comparing engagement rings or whatever. Rhoda and I were totally disgusted.
I talked to Mara’s cousin Buddy later. I was surprised to learn that he wasn’t friendly with Ira or Craig anymore, people in his frat who he’d gone to Europe with. Buddy said I’m not missing anything never having been to Europe. “Everything you could possibly want is in this country,” he said.
I met Hal, who was in the same predicament I saw him in on Monday: he forgot where he was supposed to meet someone.
“Why don’t you write these things down?” I asked.
“Because then Ivy would find out,” Hal said. He’ll never change, I thought. But then, later in the day, I learned that he and Ivy are engaged. So I don’t know if he was joking with me earlier. Well, it’s all comedy. (I can say that because I’m not Ivy.)
I went with Stacy and Alan to McDonald’s but didn’t participate much in their conversation. I have no hostile feelings toward Stacy anymore, but I don’t want to ever get involved with her again; she has too many problems.
When I met Ronna at noon, she felt and looked much better. Although she’s decided against running, we went to a Mugwump meeting.
Besides Mikey, Mike and Mason, there were no old faces as I looked around the room the Mugwumps had met in so many times before; most of the people were unfamiliar.
And when Mike and Mikey began discussing things like Kent State and the American Express demonstration, almost no one there remembered. It was very strange to me.
After the meeting, Ronna and I went to the deli and to buy a birthday present for Phyllis – although she’s someone whom I trust less and less the more I get to know.
I did a stupid thing and told Mikey that Phyllis assumed he was gay because he doesn’t go out. When will I ever learn to keep my mouth shut? There is nobody less gay than Mikey, so I thought he would think it was funny.
I wish Debbie could have hit it off with Mikey; now she’s involved with this guy at Queens College.
Before I left campus, I saw Gary and Wendy briefly. All Gary talks about now is Columbia and sociology, and I feel I don’t have that much to say to him anymore.
Tonight I finished supper early and went into the Village, getting presents for Ronna on West 8th Street. I got her a Paul Simon songbook, a silver turtle pin, a wicker basket filled with scented soaps, and a 1929 (used) postcard from Niagara Falls.
My girl is going to be 20 years old; she’s a woman already. My god, in two months, I’ll be 22. It seems I just had a birthday. Where do the days go?
Saturday, April 14, 1973
The days are getting longer, but spring hasn’t really come yet; it’s been too cold. And I woke up today with the start of what appears to be a beautiful cold. I’ve been treating it for hours with herbs and huge doses of vitamin C, but I still feel rather weakish.
At least I’m not as ill as poor Marc, who’s got 102° fever and spots all over his face; it may be his allergy again. I don’t know if I feel up to doing anything with Ronna tonight; I hope she won’t be disappointed if I decide not to.
She’s been with her father all day, and I’m expecting to hear from her soon. Ronna told me she had a really nice birthday yesterday. In addition to the gifts I gave her, she got presents from family and friends.
The most imaginative presents came from Susan and Felicia: a plant, a pretty top, an “I’m horny” button, and a copy of Lady’s Chatterley’s Lover whose note inside put Ronna in hysterics when she read it. Later she showed it to me: “Any woman can! Why do you think Richie preferred this book to Stacy Bernstein?”
Last evening I picked her up at 7:30 PM and we went to Kings Plaza to see The Hospital, which I’d seen before but which I still enjoyed a lot. Afterwards we went for a long drive.
Ronna has a Spanish test on the 30th, so we postponed our trip to Washington until the first weekend in May. Back at my house, we ate carrot cake and went down to the basement.
Ronna felt very strange being twenty. She said her grandfather told her it’s time to get married already. We talked about how she could have been married now, with a couple of Ivan’s babies to take care of.
I doubt that Ronna and I will ever get married. Our relationship is intense, but that doesn’t mean it’s meant to last forever. She’s awfully afraid of getting a bad marriage and of one day finding herself alone at 40 like her mother.
But anyway, Ronna and I are almost more like best friends than lovers, and I know we’ll always be friendly. Still, last night we petted heavily and for the first time I had an orgasm and she didn’t. So I guess I can’t complain that much about our sex life.
I got an acceptance from Stony Brook in the mail today, and I’m really pleased about it and I have to reconsider going there now.
I also received the instructions for commencement in the mail today. My graduation’s on June 5, one day after I turn 22. Looking over the form to send away for tickets, Mom said, “I’d never have thought you could do it – not after that first day.”
She meant, of course, that first day in September of 1968, when I was just too scared and fucked-up to go. But the next year, I finally went. Even now, I wince when I have to remember that year I wasted, the year I couldn’t function.
Still, maybe it wasn’t a waste. I needed time to get myself somewhat in shape for the world. And now I’m facing another plateau, and I know I’ll make it – but that’s not saying I’m not scared.
I’ll miss Brooklyn College very much, but I think I’ve gotten all I could from it and I have no regrets about anything. I’ve got to move on, while keeping in touch with all my old friends and the things that I’ve learned about myself and other people.
Dad and I went to Rockaway and visited Grandma Sylvia outside by the ocean. She doesn’t look bad, but she’s bitter about not being able to get around and is interested only in moving to Florida for good. But Grandpa Nat does not want to give up his work.
Wednesday, April 18, 1973
1 AM. It’s been a lovely night. Ronna called me when she got home from Susan’s this afternoon and I rushed to pick her up. We were going to Lincoln Center to try to get student rush tickets to a play.
I parked the car in a lot, but the line in the theater looked too long and there wouldn’t be tickets for us. So I grabbed a taxi – Ronna was annoyed at that – to the East Side and we made the 8 PM showing of the film version of Godspell.
It was pretty good, perhaps a little too hokey with the Jesus bit, but I enjoyed it. After we left the theater, Ronna said she wanted to walk back to Lincoln Center; it was my turn to be annoyed, but I learned to like it.
It was an amazingly warm evening, and we passed so many interesting stores, high-class hotels like the Pierre, and things like the hansom cabs by Central Park. Ronna was wearing a skirt, and it was nice to see her legs for a change.
I drove her back to her house and we sat outside talking. Without realizing it, we had compromised tonight: one taxi ride and one walk.
We aren’t very much alike in many ways, but maybe people can bypass that hurdle. We do have love and mutual respect and, I think, understanding. I gave her big, tight hug and said I’d see her on Friday.
Today was a hazy, humid day. I went to school to do some research in the library, where I ran into Avis, who was getting some books for Alan; later, she was going out to Beach 90th Street to watch him surf.
A year ago I thought I was in love with Avis, but now I realize that was just a silly infatuation; still, I know we’ll always be good friends.
I caught up on two other old friends. Last night I called Alice, who was being visited by Renee and who was a bit under the weather. Alice’s journalism career is going well: she shared the front page of the Kings Courier with Mark again this week.
And I visited Gary in Whitehead, where he was collecting his Sociology research findings for Prof. Nishi; the survey he’s working on seems very interesting. Gary said he regrets not seeing more of me these days.
As I left campus, I had to do a double-take when I saw Beverly. She’s got a very short haircut and I’ve never seen her looking so attractive.