A 22-Year-Old’s Diary Entries From Late October, 1973
by Richard Grayson
Monday, October 15, 1973
I awoke early this morning to get to the Election Committee meeting on time. Although I’d rather have stayed in bed, I must admit there’s something about getting up at 7:30 AM and driving over the Verrazano Bridge that early that’s really nice.
Before the meeting, I spoke with Mike Fogerty about the Mets and football. He played football in college in Arizona, and although I don’t know much about the game, I listened intently.
Besides Dean McCormack and Ed Merritt, the only others at the meeting were Pat McGinnis (who brought her 3-year-old son) and Paul Nelson, who’s in the Progressive Labor Party and on the newspaper.
We have enough candidates to have an election next week although some committee positions will be uncontested.
I am unopposed for the University Student Senate – I guess no one else wants to go to Manhattan for meetings – and am one of two candidates for five seats on the Student Life Committee, so it looks like I’ll have a vote in the Faculty Assembly.
We’ll see how far my political career at Richmond goes – but I hope to meet people, maybe do some good for the students. I don’t ignore ego-gratification and my ambitious nature, either.
Leaving the building, I noticed a face I hadn’t seen in years: Jack from Brooklyn College! I called out to him and we shook hands. He took too many leaves of absence at BC and so is going to Richmond for his B.A.
Jack looked the same, except his hair was longer, same as mine. He said he’s got his own place in Brooklyn. Because he was late for class, he rushed off.
I remember how I freaked out when Shelli went out with him. How absurd it all seems now, why Jack and I stopped being friends, when Shelli has now been married to Jerry for a year and a half.
Now I remember the breakup with almost fond memories. The beginning shock and ego-jolt was awful, of course, and I felt completely helpless.
But as the days went on and I discovered I didn’t die, I rather enjoyed getting into myself; accepting sympathy; pampering myself on Saturday evenings with herb tea and face masks and sad Christina Rossetti poetry and Mary Tyler Moore on TV.
I really learned more about myself at that time than I ever had before or since. It’s two years ago already; it’s hard to believe.
This afternoon I spoke with Gary. Yesterday his father pulled away with the car before Gary had settled down into the back seat, and it aggravated his neck injury. He’s been using the heating pad constantly. Talk about accident prone!
Before class tonight, I spotted John Pulaski and gave him a lift to the car service where he works. He has his own apartment near school and drives a car at night; he wasn’t at this morning’s meeting because he worked until 6 AM and then went home to sleep.
I like John very much. He reminds me a lot of Ivan, only a little rougher around the edges. Anyway, I’m glad I’m getting friendly with him and Andrea.
Prof. Jochnowitz’s class on phonetics was a bit confusing, and I came home feeling tired. Ronna went to the movies with Susan tonight.
Sunday, October 21, 1973
5 PM. I just became disgusted with the World Series, as the Mets are behind in the final and decisive game by four runs. Even if you believe, miracles don’t always happen.
Last evening I went to Ronna’s house to pick her up. Her mother was there with Hiram, although from what Ronna tells me, Mrs. C has definitely decided against marrying him.
Ronna mentioned that earlier in the day she bought a bra at Hope Chest and said Avis is back at work there; I must call Avis and find out how she is. Ronna seemed a bit quiet; I know she was upset by our fight earlier.
She thinks I’m getting the “eleventh-month itch” or that I’m afraid of getting involved with her. I can’t fully bring myself to tell her that why I’m afraid of intense involvement and commitment is because I don’t know if, considering my bisexuality, I’m being fair to her.
This problem can’t resolve itself until I can be more honest with her, with Mrs. Ehrlich, and most of all, with myself. But I think I’m making a good start.
We drove into the city intending to see a movie, but the theater we parked near was sold out until its midnight show. So we walked down Second Avenue a few blocks – it was cool and windy – to the Columbia and bought tickets for the 9 PM showing of The Paper Chase.
In the meantime we walked around and went into Bun ‘n’ Burger, where Ronna had a hamburger – in the all mishigass, she hadn’t had any supper – and I had some tea.
Returning to the theater, we found the ticket holders’ line snaking around the corner, and when we got inside, we had to sit one in back of another rather than side by side.
I enjoyed the film a lot – it’s about a guy struggling through Harvard Law School – but the movie made me glad I decided against going to law school. I would have felt stifled by all the memorization, the analysis, and the Socratic method.
Returning to the car, I switched on the radio and heard startling news. On Friday night, Nixon had announced a compromise to get around a Supreme Court fight appealing a decision that Nixon had to hand over the White House tapes.
Yesterday, when I was at Grandpa Herb’s, I saw Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox announce he was defying the President and was going to fight him in the courts.
Last night, Nixon fired Cox, and in protest Attorney General Richardson and his deputy resigned. The Congress and the country are outraged, and there’s talk of impeachment. I can’t remember such a Constitutional crisis ever.
Ronna and I went back to my basement, where we shut out the lights, put on a Gordon Lightfoot record, got out a blanket, and sprawled on the couch.
I enjoyed it a lot, even though I didn’t come. (Ronna did.) But sex is something that you can’t enjoy if you take it seriously; it’s better to laugh and play like a kid in bed. It was 3 AM when I took Ronna home. The stars were so bright, we could see the Pleiades.
I was awakened today, first by a Veterans Day parade, and then a call from Elihu, who came in from Providence for the weekend despite having a lot of work.
We exchanged gossip. He couldn’t see Ellen because she’s at a film conference upstate, and Jill is in London; Elspeth is back working at Mays.
Dad was away all day today at the menswear show at the Statler Hilton. He and Grandpa Nat were so aggravated yesterday because someone stole all the samples Art Pants was going to display.
Yesterday Grandpa Nat seemed upset with me for “wasting my time in school” when I could be helping Dad with the family business, and then, when I went across the street to see Grandpa Herb, he said the most important thing in life is acquiring money.
How can I explain to my grandparents about my preference for D.H. Lawrence over double knits? I guess to them, I wasted all day reading, looking through every review in the New York Times Book Review and fantasizing that one day there a book of mine (“a promising minor talent”) will be reviewed next to a photo of me by Jill Krementz.
Saturday, October 27, 1973
It’s 4 PM on a mild autumn day. I’m relaxing on my bed, listening to Joan Baez. I think I’m becoming happier with myself and getting over my October blues.
October has often been a difficult month for me. It was in October seven years ago that anxiety attacks first led me to seek psychiatric help. Three years later, I decided to leave therapy with Dr. Lipton and start with Dr. Wouk.
And two years after that (two years ago), I broke up with Shelli, and that led me to a whole reassessment of myself. Now, as October, 1973, is ending, I feel that I am reintegrating two parts of me: “the good guy” image I show to the outside world, and my “secret self,” my fantasies and private thoughts.
I woke up in darkness today and drove to Sheepshead Bay to pick up Josh at 7 AM. He’s still giving his teachers a hard time. I wish I had the nerve to do some of the things Josh does, like going up to an English professor after class to say, “Your class is such a bore that I can hardly stay awake.”
Josh takes advantage of me, I know. Today he not only conned me into driving him to the GREs, but also suckered me into taking his two friends. After I did that, I picked up Ronna at her house. She had a sleepless night and had to watch Billy and Robbie last night.
I dropped them all off at Poly Tech, then came home to crawl back into bed. I had a dream about Ronna taking the test, and I realized I care for her more than just liking her.
I do like the look of her: short, a little chubby, round in the breast and ass; she looks good in dungarees and a sweatshirt. It doesn’t matter if you call caring about someone “love” or not; as a rule, labels mean nothing.
I studied linguistics and shopped in the health food store, and around 2 PM, Ronna called. She said the test was all right although she’s afraid she didn’t do well.
Before the test, she and the guys went to the Poly Tech cafeteria, and Josh was nice to her; somehow it gives me a good feeling to know that my friend was being protective toward Ronna.
She took the train home with Fred Simonson and was about to take a nap so that maybe we can go to Mark and Consuelo’s tonight.
Mom called Cousin Robin yesterday, and she said that she’s happier now that she and Joel are separated. He sees a lot of Michael, and she’s going out with a 24-year-old messenger (which is making Aunt Sydelle crazy).
Sunday, October 28, 1973
It’s dark although it’s only 5 PM, but Daylight Savings Time is over. And it’s cloudy and you can sense a storm coming. But it hasn’t rained in weeks.
I feel more secure and happier than I have in a long time. I suppose it was last night that did it.
At 7 PM, I went to Ronna’s and she was ready, but we decided to wait until her sister’s blind date came. Sue was really nervous and kept changing clothes and switching hairstyles. To compound her anxiety, he was very late.
“Where is he already?” Sue said, playing the guitar to keep herself occupied.
Not realizing how it would come out, Ronna turned to me and asked, “Do you know how to make a guy come?” The three of us convulsed in laughter.
Once I was able to talk, I said, “I do know a few ways you can make a guy come,” and Ronna made a pretend-grab for my crotch. We laughed more and she gave me an ironic glance. I love fooling around like that.
Sue’s date showed up at the same time as Ronna’s mother did, with a sleeping Billy, whom I carried upstairs to bed.
Ronna and I arrived at Mark and Consuelo’s apartment and found him, Marty and Dick going down to the basement to play pool. Ronna and I went upstairs, where I got a tremendous hug from Consuelo and a peck on the cheek from Ruth.
After I introduced Ronna to them, we engaged in a discussion of teaching: Ruth’s got a fourth-grade class and Consuelo’s got four-year-olds in a day care center.
As some old 78 Judy Garland records were playing, Mendy arrived with his sister Devorah. He and Ronna talked journalism while I looked around the apartment, which is certainly a big improvement over their old place over Mel’s Record Rack at the Junction, with all those cockroaches.
Lou arrived with Ray, who didn’t talk to his old girlfriend (remember “The Bitch”?) all night. The house started filling up as I sampled Mark’s pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin pie.
Elspeth and Robin brought two guys who looked like they were still in high school. Elspeth chided me for not calling her; she said she doesn’t see too many people now that she’s not at Brooklyn College.
As Elspeth was telling me about going to the Moody Blues concert with Leroy after Russell stood her up, suddenly we heard the arrival of Jerry and Shelli, who had driven down from Boston for the weekend.
Following Marty’s cue and nod, I shook Jerry’s hand and said hello to Shelli, who talked a lot to Ronna. They’re living in Roxbury, don’t know too many people in Boston, and Shelli’s a freshman (she had to start all over) at Emerson. They looked sloppy but all right.
It felt as if the whole thing between us had never happened as I talked with them with the friendliness I talk to Marty and Ruth or other old acquaintances. Consuelo brought out little David, ten months old and so cute; I held him and gently scratched his fuzzy red hair.
While Mark was diapering David, I noticed that the baby had the little stuffed dog I gave him in his crib. It was all worn out, but it made me feel good to know he sleeps with it.
Ronna and I circulated separately and together. She was quiet most of the time, but when she said something, it was worth listening to, and I was quite proud to have Ronna with me.
Downstairs, we watched Ray and Consuelo cream Shelli and Mark in a game of pool. Before we left, around 12:30 AM, Mark gave Ronna the recipe for pumpkin bread and we thanked him and Consuelo for a lovely time.
And it was a lovely time: Ronna and I agreed to that over tea back at her house. She said that the old LaGuardia legends like Mark, Ray and Marty were surprisingly nice and not intimidating. I kissed her goodnight for a long, long time.
I haven’t enjoyed myself so much in ages.
Wednesday, October 31, 1973
3 PM. As the kids get out of school now, they should start ringing our doorbell and shouting “trick or treat.” For no discernible reason, I feel kind of festive myself.
Last night’s session with Mrs. Ehrlich went well. We decided that my being a psychiatrist in my dream and playing the shrink with Ronna are signs that I’m becoming my own therapist – and not incidentally, a way of becoming Mrs. Ehrlich so as to get closer to her.
I talked about how I felt differently now toward Stacy, and Shelli and Jerry, and how I think I’ve become much healthier emotionally. I am even beginning to see “the light at the end of tunnel” (hopefully it will come faster than the Vietnam peace did): the time when I will no longer need therapy.
I left Mrs. Ehrlich’s office feeling good and I slept wonderfully. This morning I had a healthy breakfast, washed my hair, and dressed well: I know I looked good today. I’ve been exercising quite a bit and I’ve been studying a lot.
I decided to go to BC this morning, and the first person I ran into there was Meyer, who said he didn’t get paid a cent when they used his New York Times article in the new ads for Jesus Christ, Superstar – but now he’s getting a lot of invitations to film screenings.
I walked into the huge new Student Government office in LaGuardia. When Mike had to go out, he asked me to sit at Mrs. DeSouza’s desk – she hadn’t come in yet – and watch things.
I was thumbing through the Faculty-Staff Bulletin when I came across bad news. Dr. D’Avanzo died two weeks ago; she was only 33. I liked her French classes a lot, and she was a nice person.
When Mike returned, he told me that the University Student Senate is a do-shit thing. Now that I’ve been elected as the Richmond College delegate, they said they’d send me the agenda for the next meeting. But Mike refuses to appoint anyone as University Student Senator from Brooklyn “on principle,” whatever that means.
In the lobby, a kid said he wanted to join Kingsman, so I took him downstairs. Teresa and Stefanie were there, but Costas soon arrived. When Teresa told the potential cub reporter to come back at noon to see Corinne, Costas gave her a dirty look.
Later, Teresa confided that after last week at the printers in Williamsburg near her house, Costas told her, “Let me run my own my own newspaper.”
“I’m going to blow this relationship,” Teresa said.
The office filled up as Sid, Timmy and Phyllis came down, and then in walked Sean and Ronna from their Acting class. Ronna and I went out into the hall to talk; I noticed Sid and Corinne were fooling around nearby.
Ronna said Ivan called her last night, but he was cool and this time he didn’t go on about how great Vicky was; however, Vicky is in town to have a cyst on her coccyx bone removed. Ronna seemed glad about the call and she might even take Ivan up on his invitation for her to visit him.
Ronna and I stopped in the Student Government office so I could retrieve my things. “We’re going to eat,” I said, and Mike said, “You wanna use my office?” Ronna gave him a dirty look (later, though, she told me she was pleased) and Cindy hit him.
When we walked into the deli, there seemed to be no available tables; however, Avis, Carl and Davey were in a table in the back and they motioned for us to join them.
Avis had a bad cold, but Teresa has convinced her to go to visit Helmut in Germany during intersession. Ronna and Avis both said Shelli’s father is very bad, still in the hospital getting shock treatments; the poor man is nearly out of touch with reality.
Avis amazed me by saying, contrary to my understanding, that Beverly never left for Colorado after all. She finally gave in to her mother and is staying home in Bensonhurst, doing virtually nothing. But she promised Avis she’d start therapy soon. Poor Bev.
Watching Carl at lunch, I can see that he really likes Avis a lot, and I’m sure something will develop between them. As Ronna went off to class, I gave her a kiss and went to a BC Independent Democrats meeting that Ron Harrington had told me about.