A Writer’s Diary Entries From Late June, 1994

by Richard Grayson

Tuesday, June 21, 1994

1 PM. I know I vowed not to answer another voice ad on the Alternate Matchmaker. But last night I called and answered one I’d heard before, from a guy who is 22, who’s just graduated UF, and who wanted “to explore his sexuality” with “someone who can carry on a conversation.”

I noticed that “Mrs. Robinson” was playing in the background of his ad, and I asked him if he used a song from The Graduate because he is one. I said I was 33.

To my surprise, he called back about an hour later, and we stayed on the phone for 90 minutes, until well after midnight (taking a break to pee).

He didn’t ask what I looked like and so I didn’t ask him. His name is Gadi (Israeli) and he’s a musician; he said he could tell I was from New York City “from your voice and your attitude.”

While he doesn’t have a girlfriend now, he’s had them in the past, and I guess he’s trying to come to grips with his attraction to guys.

His family’s from Tampa, and he’ll be moving back there soon. None of his friends know about his feelings except for his best friend, who discovered him in a phone call months ago with a guy he met through an ad (“nothing came of it”).

His friend reacted quietly, but on the drive back from Tampa, he said, “What you told me . . . I think you’re very brave.”

Brave was not the word I would have used,” Gadi told me.

That night, the friend – with whom he’s very close – told him that he was attracted to him and preceded to initiate oral sex.

“It was very odd,” Gadi said, because there had been no warning. His friend ejaculated prematurely, and they both felt bad but repeated the sex play that night and the next morning. They’ve never spoken of it since.

I guess Gadi needs somebody to talk to more than he does a lover, and I need someone to talk with, too.

I hope he’ll call back. I like his direct style, and he’s bright enough to keep up with my puns and wordplay. He lives alone, except for two iguanas, on Archer Road.

I was so excited by our conversation that I couldn’t get to sleep for hours.

Yeah, I know: It’s silly to waste time in fantasy or speculation, but I guess if I had wanted to shut my thoughts off, I would have.

I got to the downtown library just as it opened at 10 AM. For two hours, I worked on my assignment, wasting a lot of time looking at odd facts (ten U.S. presidents had fathers who remarried after their wives died) in the volumes I used.

I tried to look up Gadi in the crisscross directory, but he, like me, wasn’t listed. I did look up Javier and saw that he lives with a guy – whom I assume is his boyfriend.

Driving home, I saw Javier, in white shirt and dress pants, walking along SW 2nd Avenue. I turned around at my place and drove back, stopping to offer him a lift.

To my surprise, Javier accepted. He’s clerking for a lawyer and had to go to the law library first. He said he’s moved to this neighborhood.

I told him I graduated and asked him why I don’t get mailings from the Human Rights Council anymore. He said there should be one soon, as they found somebody who will do all their advertising.

It was only a couple of minutes that we were together, but he looked so adorable that it made me very nervous. God, I thought I was over my crush on him.

I’m about halfway through Bruce Bawer’s A Place at the Table: The Gay Individual in American Society.

Though Bawer is a conformity-loving conservative, his skillful refutations of homophobic arguments, especially “enlightened” ones, are impressive feats of logical thinking.

His basic point is that what bothers most Americans about homosexuality is honesty and self-acceptance; most homophobic people tolerate gays and even appreciate them “if they’re ashamed of” their sexual orientation.

Gadi hasn’t called, but I suspect that he and a lot of guys his age – I was one of them for a long time – are “bisexual” as a way-station toward accepting their homosexuality.

Gadi he said he sees gay people on TV in and in the movies and on gay rights marches, and he can’t relate to them because he’s not somebody who thinks about sex all the time or wants to dress in women’s clothes or is going to stop being “himself”: “a normal guy” who loves music, likes sports and has iguanas as pets.

I used to worry that gay activists would judge me harshly for not being more out, but Javier rarely has made me feel that way. Even if I didn’t have a crush on him, he’s somebody I’d admire for his dignity and sense of self-worth.

As for Gadi, maybe he’s mostly straight and just has some bisexual urges.  Who knows?

I don’t know if Gadi will call me back or not, but I’m sure he’ll eventually get to wherever he’s going with me or without me. These things just take time.

Thursday, June 23, 1994

8 PM. Tomorrow I’ll find out whether I’ll be teaching at SFCC on Monday. When I got back from the main library this afternoon, there was a phone message from Sherrie Deas warning me that there were only 6 and 8 students, respectively, in the 1:40 PM English 102 and 231 sections, so I’m sure they will be canceled.

She didn’t say anything about the 12:15 PM English 231 section, which I know is nearly full. But they could pull that from me if they need to give it to a full-timer whose class had to be canceled.

I’d warned Ivana and a couple of other students who registered for my class that it was uncertain I’d be teaching it. Tomorrow afternoon I’ll call Barbara and find out; until then, I’m not going to work on a syllabus. (I’ve got a course outline.)

But there were two messages this afternoon, and the other was from Tom Shroder of Tropic Magazine asking me to call him back.

Excitedly, I did – and he was out to lunch. When I called back a third time, I got him.

He seemed rather offhand but said my “Legislators in Love” piece was “whacked out” – I think he meant “wacky” – but they wanted it anyway. He told me to send him an invoice for $300 with my social security number and any material I had on the scandal.

Because he was so brusque, I have a hard time believing Tropic will actually print the essay. If they do, I’ll have a great credit, my first in the Miami Herald, and $300.

Up at 7 AM today, I became uncomfortable about not getting accepted by USF yet, so when their admissions office opened at 10 AM, I called.

It took half an hour in voice-mail limbo – the endless playing of “Rhapsody in Blue” lulled me into a stupor – but eventually I learned that all my stuff had gotten there and was told that it would be sent to the library school tomorrow.

I got the feeling this should have happened weeks ago. I don’t know if I missed the June cutoff for full applications, but I could still move to Tampa – or I could stay here in Gainesville till the end of the year.

This morning I went to get a new printer ribbon and mailing envelopes at the stationery store so that I could finish printing out a reasonably legible second copy of my short story collection manuscript. (I needed two copies for the Sullivan Prize at Notre Dame University Press.)

Later, I mailed the submission off to Indiana at the downtown post office.

This evening I printed out yet another 219-page manuscript to get it ready for the Drue Heinz Prize, for which I’ve not yet sent away for the guidelines.

All this effort in entering these contests will probably come to naught – but the odds are better than the lottery or even The New Yorker, and at least I now have another decent book manuscript.

I spent nearly two hours working in the library on the finding assignment and have just a few more questions left to answer.

At 3 PM, as I was driving to the law school, I saw Professor McCoy and his equally elderly wife holding hands as they walked on SW 2nd Avenue. Either they are very affectionate or were holding each other for support.

They posted the spring book awards and the honors list on the bulletin board. Getting the award for Advanced Techniques of Legal Research put me second alphabetically.

Tom McA booked Intellectual Property as well as three (!) other classes, so I guess he really deserved his place among the top three students.

Our Women and the Law class was booked by Christine, the divorced woman my age, and Pauline. They deserved it.

I was glad to see Pauline get recognized. Ditto for Dwayne L, who booked Weyrauch’s Legal Counseling. It’s good that some black students get awards.

I was also happy that Rick A booked Nunn’s Race Relations Law (even if he’s white).

I looked up the students in the top ten list of graduating seniors and saw that David A and Ryan got Honors and not High Honors their last semester.

Depending on how high their GPAs were before that, I may have jumped over them. I probably graduated seventh or eighth in my class.

I wish I didn’t care.

I had hoped I would be admitted to the Order of the Coif, but maybe it’s not just based on grades.

Or perhaps they just wait until the small summer class graduates next month. In our class photos on the third floor and in our yearbook, the spring and summer graduates are combined.

I thought I remembered Mashburn saying that Coif took the top 10% of the class. In the last three graduating classes, including last summer’s, the 95th percentile cutoff was 3.51.

In the library, I discussed our assignment with Ruthie and said hi to Rosalie, who’s going to Dallas tomorrow and then to Seattle next week.

I found a couple of answers to the library assignment and discovered that my Westlaw password (the generic one) worked.

I printed out the latest Supreme Court decision – Ladue, on free speech – and searched newspapers.

Wolf got mixed but respectable reviews and was numero uno at the box office last weekend.

I guess my first conversation with Gadi was my last. Too bad.

Friday, June 24, 1994

7 PM. I’ll teach both sections of English 231 starting Monday. I don’t know why Barbara didn’t cancel the 1:40 PM class, but I guess enough students registered.

I learned this when I called Sherrie late this afternoon. So this weekend I’ve got to work on my syllabus and preparation.

This takes a lot of financial pressure off me; I’ll be relieved not to worry so much about money.

Between SFCC and Nova, I should be grossing over $3,600 this summer, which is more than I’ve made in past summers. Actually, I haven’t taught in the summer for the past decade.

Last evening I read the Supreme Court’s Ladue v. Gilleo case and got about 50 pages into Brad Gooch’s biography of Frank O’Hara before my attention wandered; I felt it was too much information and wished I had a Readers Digest Condensed Book version of City Poet.

Tampa NOW-PAC sent me a five-page candidate’s questionnaire on women’s issues that I enjoyed answering in detail, using some of what I learned in Dowd’s class.

I won’t go to Tampa in July for a face-to-face interview, a prerequisite for their endorsement. But doing so would probably only injure their credibility.

I’ve got to spend this weekend preparing my syllabus and planning what I’m going to do in class. I’ve never taught Advanced Composition at SFCC before, and I’m going to be hard-pressed to be organized.

I hope I can be more focused than usual, though.

Monday, June 27, 1994

4:30 PM. It’s going to take me a while to adjust to the schedule I’ll have for the next six weeks, but so far everything looks good.

I got to school at 11:40 AM after I’d had my cheese sandwich, carrots and a sweet potato. I’ve decided I need to save my microwaved frozen vegetables till I come back to avoid farting broccoli or black-eyed peas while I’m teaching.

I didn’t have a key either to my old inner office or the outer door for Unit 4. The unit secretary, Mark, is a friendly, long-haired doctoral student in anthropology, a Chicago native who’s transferring from UF to Indiana in the fall.

There are a couple of other teachers around, but since it’s the second summer semester and in the afternoon, it’s pretty quiet on campus. Mark leaves at 2 PM and the office effectively closes then.

I filled out my schedule forms (for the department, the unit, and my office door) and a substitute-availability form, then went upstairs to give Sherrie what she needed: those forms, plus my syllabus and first-day handout for their files.

My first class has about 20 students in a pleasant but claustrophobic room next to the unit.

Ivana said she had a great time back home in Belgrade but that seven weeks flew by too quickly; I told her I’d bought a car.

I don’t know how I came off to my students, but the class seems pretty quiet so far. After going over the first-day handout, the syllabus and texts and assignments, I let them go half an hour early.

The second class is in the L building, so I visited Rhoda at my old unit before going in to teach.

In this class, there are only ten students, including two older women, but everyone seemed nice.

I thought I’d have more to say, but it’s difficult the first day, with people who have just registered coming in late.

(One girl in her first day at the college sat there the whole time before I discovered that she was supposed to be in a Reading class instead.)

I know they’re worried about producing a research paper in six weeks, but I’m sure that we can do it.

Back home, I ate and went to Publix for groceries.

In the mail, I got my financial disclosure form from the House of Representatives, but because I’m not really a candidate until the campaign raises $5,000, I don’t have to fill it out.

I also got the notice from the Drue Heinz Award; while I can’t send out the manuscript until July, it’s ready to go.

Thursday, June 30, 1994

4 PM. The first six months of 1994 are over already, even if Saturday is the midpoint of the year. I plan to drive to Tampa early on Saturday and see if I can find an apartment to rent.

I got to school about 11:30 AM and chatted with Mark and with Anne Kress, a full-timer who I think is really cool.

She’s a Barbie fan who read my story: a hip, highly intelligent woman in her 20s or 30s who’s teaching Women in Literature next semester.

I also talked to some of the few other faculty and students who are around the building this term.

After teaching Didion’s “On Keeping a Notebook,” Whitman’s diary entry about Lincoln, and excerpts from Emerson and Thoreau yesterday, today I had my students write their own personal essays in class.

I got three new students today while a couple of others have dropped the class.

While my students were writing, I talked to them individually about their tentative research paper topics, most of which were too broad or too vague.

Unlike classes I’ve taught all year, these classes are mostly filled with traditional-age college students. But because this is at least the third English class they’ve taken, they’re not fresh out of high school.

Still, I’ve got types you’d see in high school: jocks, druggies, metalheads, intellectual dreamers, religious Christians. Of course, they are much more than these stereotypes, as their papers show.

Now I’ve got to make up topics for their first at-home paper, which means I have to go over the next several reading assignments carefully.

Coming home, I got the mail, which included a letter from a Christian radio station in Lakeland. They requested my candidate bio, a head shot, and my position on “moral issues (i.e., freedom of access, women’s health clinics, taxation, prayer in schools).”

The letter was signed, “Sincerely in Christ.” I’m sure my stand on the issues should really go over well at radio station WCIE (Where Christ Is Everything).

I haven’t heard much about today’s final Supreme Court decisions. I know they upheld the Florida judge’s ruling that abortion protesters had to stay back 36 feet from a clinic in Melbourne but invalidated a ban that went to 200 feet around the building, and they struck down the Hispanic districts in the 1990 reapportionment of the Florida legislature.

Since I got home this afternoon, I seem to be doing everything in slow motion. I guess I need time to unwind.

Six weeks from today I have to be living somewhere else. God, that’s scary.

But at the very worst, I know I can always find an apartment somewhere in Gainesville. With a car, I don’t need to live so close to the school or to shopping.

I hope last night’s reading of “Twelve Step Barbie” went well. I wish I could have been at the Klein Art Gallery in Chicago to see it.

On the other hand, I don’t have any control when it’s not me reading the story but an actor under the direction of a theatrical director.

And we all know what a control freak I am.