A Writer’s Diary Entries From Late May, 1996
by Richard Grayson
Monday, May 20, 1996
4 PM. This morning I was monitoring Westlaw, and at about 10:40 AM I spotted an eight-sentence wire service report: “Court hands victory to gays in Colorado case.”
I immediately emailed Bob, Craig and Kathy, and I’ve been going back and forth with them all day.
The vote in Romer v. Evans, not unexpectedly, was 6-3, with Scalia issuing a blistering homophobic dissent for himself, Thomas and Rehnquist.
Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion was great, from its opening quoting Harlan’s dissent in Plessy (issued almost exactly 100 years ago today) to its conclusion.
It found that Amendment 2 violated equal protection on a rational basis test, and said its only justification seemed to be “animus” toward gays.
Scalia noted that the majority never mentioned Bowers, and I think he’s right and that the court today implicitly overruled Bowers while dodging the question.
I felt exhilarated, and at one point, tears came to my eyes.
I know Russ must agree with Scalia, but he was busy with challenges to the sugar tax amendments, and anyway, he was delighted when I admitted to Tucker that, yes, I was staying on for a while.
Anyway, Romer is to gay people what Brown v. Board of Education was to blacks, and Scalia is more right than wrong when he said the court had taken sides in a culture war.
Bob asked me to write a 300-word article for the Guardian, the Human Rights Council newsletter, which is going to the printer tonight. I wrote 800 words and told Bob to edit, cut or not use any of it as he saw fit.
I read Romer twice before I wrote about it, and I was so pleased. I told Liz, Linda and Jon, who probably couldn’t care less.
Although I started turning Matt’s memo on e-mail employee privacy into final form, I didn’t get very far.
Home for lunch, I found some good mail: the Nova check, which amounted to $1,330, and the page proofs for “The Fruit Brigade: Neil Simon’s Gay Characters” from Gary Konas, with the book expected out late this year. I need to sit down and proofread the pages, but I don’t have time today.
I also got a lot of stuff from Lucy Komisar about the report of the PEN Internet Committee, which includes me.
Now that I’m staying on, Tucker again asked me to help him edit the business plan because Jon is meeting Rick Matasar on Friday and wants to have it ready to show him.
Anyway, I’m really fartoozt.
8 PM. I just finished reading the New York Times and I’m ready to go to sleep, though I expect Terence will phone later.
Maybe I’ll take the phone off the hook so he doesn’t wake me. Hey, if I don’t have his number, he can’t expect me to be available all the time.
I got an odd call from the Legal Services Corporation of Montana. Apparently they were responding to some application for AmeriCorps/VISTA that I filled out a couple of years ago.
They asked me to apply for a job, but I told them I wasn’t interested at this time. Still, it’s nice to know that opportunities are out there, even if they might be in Montana.
I spoke to Mom who said that Marc got a 3.9 GPA on last semester’s grades and passed his exam to be licensed as a certified electronics technician.
Bob e-mailed to asked me if I could forward Dottie Dreyer a copy of Romer; I sent him one I got from Delphi.
And Ronna e-mailed, saying I should call her when I’m in New York for Teresa’s wedding.
ABC’s World News Tonight and the PBS Newshour led with the Colorado case, but they were fairly brief reports. In truth, the impact of Romer is more of a psychological boost than any concrete change in the law.
While the Alachua County charter amendment will now be overturned, the repeal of the anti-discrimination law was obviously legal.
As Kathy pointed out, we now have the votes on the Gainesville City Commission to pass a gay rights law, but Pegeen and Sande are being sworn in only on Thursday, and they need time before they bring up what will be a controversial bill.
Thanks to the Nova check, at least I have money in the bank now.
Tuesday, May 22, 1996
9 PM. Last evening I watched the movie Scent of a Woman, in which Al Pacino tore up the scenery playing a blind man.
Afterwards, Terence phoned, but only because he told me he’d call; he needed to take a bath and do other stuff, which was fine with me.
Although I had wanted to talk to Terence about all that happened yesterday with the Romer case, I realized that he either wouldn’t be interested or it would take too much work to explain everything to him.
As fond as I am of Terence, we don’t share the same references, and it would be cruel to get him to care for me if I knew that we could never really talk about so much in my life that’s meaningful to me.
I’m going to try not to let my loneliness and need for intimacy lead him on. He’s used to being pursued by guys, and if I don’t press him, he won’t follow up.
Tonight at Abby’s house, sitting at a table with this couple, Ron and Steve, I put mailing labels on our new HRC stationery and folded and stuffed envelopes.
Like Bob and Tim, Ron and Steve share most of their interests – and that’s important for a couple.
I congratulated Craig on being mediagenic. He was on the 11 PM news on Channel 20 last night, on Classic 89 this morning, and quoted in today’s Sun and Alligator.
Both he and Bob praised my analysis of Romer and seemed astounded that I could turn out good writing on such short notice. When they asked how I could possibly do it, I told them, “I’m a writer.”
Abby played her Klezmatics album, and it was enjoyable to do busy work listening to klezmer music. Earlier I had felt exhausted, but the two hours I spent folding, stuffing and sticking labels onto envelopes had a relaxing effect.
On the way home, I stopped at the office.
Thursday, May 23, 1996
4 PM. My neck hurt a great deal last night, and again I got out the heating pad. After making a brief appearance at work this morning, I drove to my doctor’s appointment.
I weighed two pounds more today than I did two weeks ago, but my blood pressure was the same: 140/80. Of course that’s my waiting-to-hear-the-results-of-my-HIV-test blood pressure. Just now, shopping at Albertsons, the machine gave me the result 125/70.
Dr. Kantrowitz went over the test results: I’m HIV-negative, and also I never had any kind of hepatitis according to the results, so that positive antibody test I had in New York a decade ago must have been an error. Dr. Kantrowitz said I should think about getting the hepatitis B series of vaccines.
My other results were in the normal range except for my HDL cholesterol, which was low.
My overall cholesterol is 167 because my LDL (“bad”) cholesterol is low, but low HDL by itself is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease – although it’s never been proven that raising HDL will do anybody any good.
Dr. Kantrowitz told me what Dr. Randall said in New York in 1986: To get my HDL up, I should do more aerobic exercise or I might try taking an alcoholic drink every day.
She said she’d prescribed muscle relaxants for my neck if I wanted them, but I’d be better off with heat, massage and exercise and maybe a cervical pillow. After I spoke to Mom, she called to say she’d send me one for my birthday.
Back at CGR, Robertson brought his visiting parents in to see the office. Since I don’t speak Portuguese and they don’t speak English much, all I could do was smile at them a lot.
Patrick had to withdraw his offer for a temporary teaching job at Broward because he’s decided to resign as acting department head. He doesn’t want the problems inherent in dealing with such difficult faculty members as Judy and Greg and a secretary like Cynthia.
That’s probably for the best. Patrick has enough problems, especially with his wife undergoing that horrible cancer treatment now. It sounds like basically they do everything but kill her.
Marty Peters caught me as I was leaving my office this morning and asked me to give a little talk this afternoon on what CGR does to half a dozen Indiana law professors who are touring the school. I hope I did okay. As I left campus, I saw Don Peters shepherding the same group.
I drove downtown to see if I could get into the Hippodrome for the City Commission meeting.
I had purposely tried to arrive late, so I had to stand in the back. But I also was too early in that Sande and Pegeen weren’t yet sworn in and I had to listen to the remaining members give tributes to the departing ones, who made long, mawkish speeches.
Apparently despite some sharp disagreements, in a small town like Gainesville there’s a lot of personal interaction and camaraderie among the elected officials, their staffs and the city’s appointed officials.
It was interesting to see the power elite – or at least the people who are involved in civic life – all in one place.
I walked in at the same time as the arch-homophobe Courtland Collier, but what could I do but smile politely and nod at him?
After the Commission meeting, I drove by Goody’s to see if Terence would get off work at 5:30 PM. In the back of my mind I had this fantasy that I’d take him to the Democratic Party reception and show him what my world was like.
But he wouldn’t want to be there, any more than I’d want to hang around his friends.
As I thought about it in the parking lot, I figured he was probably working late, so I stopped myself from going in.
Terence has called the last couple of Friday nights, and I expect that if I don’t hear from him tonight, it’s over. There’s no reason for me to keep bothering Terence except that I’m lonely.
I drove back downtown, parked in the public library lot, and walked over to the Matheson House, where the Democratic Party reception was. Sue was taking contributions at the door. As usual, I felt a little awkward in a crowd.
At first I gravitated to Richard and Jeff and his wife, but aside from working together, we don’t have much to talk about, so I grabbed my crudités and mingled, saying hi to Ed the librarian, Patricia Lassiter and Richard Smith, and nodding at others, like Tom Ryder of Goerings Bookstore.
Helen and the AFL-CIO leader got everyone’s attention and talked about party unity and introduced the candidates.
Sande was sweet, but Pegeen was impressive; she thanked Bob, who was her campaign manager (even though he and Tim were on vacation) and all the other people who helped her get elected.
Pegeen had $1,000 in funds left over and gave checks to the North Central Florida AIDS Network’s Joe Antonelli, and people from the Alachua Conservation Trust and two other charities.
Leaving at 6:30 PM, I stopped at the library and checked out their copy of I Survived Caracas Traffic from the new books section just to give it an outing.
I stopped at Mother Earth to buy some whole grain cereals and went back to the office to check my e-mail before heading to Abby’s house.
Abby and Vince went to Alaska for six weeks, so there weren’t many people present: Richard, Ed, Craig, John K and this 60-year-old guy Chuck from the county Democratic Executive Committee, who got elected as an alternate delegate to the Chicago convention.
Without any women there, Chuck apparently felt free to talk about porn videos and the cute boys at the party and Commission meeting.
I didn’t mind – it’s the kind of thing I talk about with Terence, but not something I’d do in a group. When Chuck started getting really graphic, I found it distasteful, but then, of course, I’m a prude.
I sealed the stuffed envelopes using the sponge after I realized how bad they tasted, and I left at 8:30 PM, taking some copies of the HRC Guardian with me. The editing mangled my article a little, but it began on the first page and took up all of page 2, and they got my identification right, so I can’t complain.
My neck aches.
Tomorrow I’ll flesh out the memo on ProCD, Inc. v. Zeidenberg and the enforceability of shrinkwrap licenses and “Web-wrap” licenses, but I’ll need to do more work on it over the weekend.
Also, Russ asked me to write a letter of recommendation for him and I’ve drafted an effusive one to give to Jon, who plans to “interview” Russ tomorrow afternoon and obviously then offer him the position as a faculty member.
I hope Russ remembers I wrote him a nice recommendation, just as I remember that he ordered my book when many of my friends did not.
The only mail I got today was a rejection of “Spaghetti Language,” but the editor asked me to submit three other stories on a disk.
John K and a guy on my GayJews list suggests gay people not vote for Clinton because he’s signing the GOP’s horrible Defense of Marriage Act, which says states don’t have to recognize other states’ same-sex marriages.
While I despise Clinton’s shuffling to the right, I also hate single-issue politics. I’m more upset with his cave-in on welfare “reform” that will throw thousands of kids into poverty, but I also understand Clinton probably needs to do these things to win in today’s America.
Monday, May 27, 1996
Not a bad Memorial Day. The really bad neck pain went away while I slept last night, although I still feel as though I compressed my vertebrae by holding my neck too far back, and my upper back still keeps going out slightly.
Probably the neck pain will return, though. I was definitely going to try to find a chiropractor tomorrow, but I’ll wait to see how I feel.
This afternoon at the office, I revised the ProCD memo and put the finished draft in Liz’s mailbox. It’s much sloppier than my usual work, but I don’t feel I have the time to refine it. I doubt if I can turn another memo out by the end of this week, though.
After putting two loads of laundry in the washer this morning, I went to the post office, and later I used some of the postcards I bought to send queries to universities about their graduate programs.
(I used the quarters I got in change from the P.O. machines for the dryer and the New York Times vending machine.)
The rest of the morning I potchkeyed around and did low-impact aerobics. (I know I need to do something more intense – but at least I’ve been taking niacin to try to raise my HDL.)
I spent an hour on the phone with both Mom and with Elihu. Mom liked my Neil Simon article (though she never discusses the gay content of anything I write) and talked about where her family might have come from.
She asked if I could find out if her Uncle Jerry and Aunt Elaine still live in Palm Beach County. Mom’s funny: she doesn’t speak to her brother, didn’t see Grandma Ethel for years, and never visits Aunt Claire, who lives 15 minutes away – but for some reason she wants to know where her relatives are.
She doesn’t even know if Aunt Tillie and Aunt Minnie are still alive. (I assume Tillie isn’t and Minnie is.)
Elihu said he dropped America Online for AT&T and was re-elected to the co-op board. He’d been very busy at work, but things have slowed since April 15.
Because Elihu’s boss is extremely querulous and unpredictable, he’s unhappy on the job – but not enough to do any more than glance at the classifieds.
He hasn’t been going to try to meet anyone because the weather’s been bad. Yeah, right – but hey, I’d probably give the same excuses myself.
We did have a nice talk. I told him why I’m staying at CGR and how ridiculous this thing with Terence is (and since I haven’t heard from him in a week, the comedy is probably over).
I got a brief e-mail from Alice, thanking me for sending her the Allentown paper’s report on the Drama Desk Awards – she’ll show it to Peter.
Coming home from the office at 5 PM, I listened to All Things Considered, and thinking of all the barbecues going on, I had one of those fat-free vegan burgers for dinner.
(I can barely remember the taste of the real thing, and my stomach gets queasy at the thought of that much fat and blood.)
After finishing the Times, I read some more of David Ives’ little plays. A line in one of them gave me a title and frame for a story: “The Five Stages of Eating in Cuban-Chinese Restaurants.” (The line was about the five stages of miniature golf.)
Anyway, the five sections of the piece will be Denial, Anger, Grief, Blame, and Fried Plantains. I have provided no content yet, but I’m content for now. Ives does use language splendidly.
Midnight. Terence phoned at 10 PM.
If he hadn’t called, I would have been certain it was over. We talked all this time, until I said I needed to get to sleep. It’s good that I’m learning more about Terence because some of the stuff gives me pause.
Unlike Jody, who was a 4.0 student, Terence says his GPA at Lake City Community College is woeful because last year he used to drive to the college and then not attend class.
UF will admit him, but in order to get into the College of Business, he needs to take classes to bring up his GPA. He can take the classes at UF, but he says he’ll probably take them at SFCC because it’s cheaper.
He says he’d like to major in marketing and one day go into advertising, but his plans seem awfully undeveloped to me.
It bothers me that so much of our conversation is just about sex. The guys in Live Oak who brought Terence out used to go to that rest stop with no facilities on I-10 and have anonymous sex with truck drivers.
Terence went once, just to see what it was, but he said he didn’t do anything. He said the same thing about a visit to a bathhouse in Jacksonville. I believe him.
I lived in New York in the 1970s and 1980s and I know all about the backrooms and the trucks on West Street, so – prudish as I am – little shocks me. Still, it’s troubling to see how a kid in a small town can get such a scary view of what being gay means.
That’s why it’s important that we have clubs in high schools and community centers where gay and lesbian young people can relate to each other – and see older role models – without so much of a focus on sex.
Thursday, May 30, 1996
4:30 PM. Teresa called before I left for work this morning. She said that when I come in, I should take my rental car to the house in Oyster Bay and I’ll stay there for the night.
She also said she might put me with her cousins in Centereach or possibly in Brooklyn. Of course, with Teresa, you never know.
I offered to pick Deirdre up at JFK on the evening before the wedding; Teresa said that none of Paul’s kids, although they’ve lived on Long Island their whole lives, would know how to find the airport.
I expect I’m going to have to play everything by ear – something I told Ronna later.
Yesterday’s court hearing on Ronna’s second-parent adoption went fine, and she’s now legally Chelsea’s mother. (In the background, Chelsea was complaining about the activities of the “bad lady” in the Cinderella video.)
I’m sure it will be a hectic week with little sleep and lots of digestive upsets, as my routine will be all bolloxed up – but it will probably be memorable.
I didn’t do much work at the office today. Instead, I worked on an old story, based on Elihu’s e-mails about Les – although I’m not sure I have the right to publish it.
I knew Netanyahu would win the Israeli election. Too bad for the peace process, liberal Israelis, and the Arabs – but I’m not going to let myself get upset.
On Lexis, I discovered that Sunday’s Bergen Record had published a column of excerpts from Publishers Weekly reviews of short story collections, and they included Caracas Traffic.
While it’s not a new review, it’s something, and I sent away for a back issue by mailing a $3 check to the paper in Hackensack.
Russ finally got through all his personnel forms; I remember how much there was to fill out when I was hired in October 1994.
When I got home for lunch, there was a message from a man who identified himself as an attorney in town who “congratulated” me for embarrassing UF law school with my writing.
He suggested that next time I write something so illogical and offensive, I consider doing so anonymously.
I concluded that this was a reaction to my HRC Guardian article on Romer v. Evans. But back at work, Jeff mentioned my letter in the Sun today and I realized that was what the caller was referring to.
After I did that riff in my diary about Admiral Boorda being a fashion victim, I combined it with the story of the U.S. attorney in Miami resigning after he bit a topless dancer. (He said that the situation was due to stress because he just lost a big drug case.)
My letter said that white heterosexual males in power need to handle stress better, and basically it was a tasteless standup comedy shtick.
The paper printed it at the top of the Op-Ed page under the header “Heterosexual males stressed out.”
Now I understand why the caller was upset; I advised the U.S. attorney, “as a fellow alumnus of the University of Florida College of Law,” that “there are other ways to deal with job stress than to bite another human being, even if you view her only as a sex object.”
That’s pretty outrageous, especially for Gainesville. I’ll let my answering machine handle calls for a while. That may even include Terence.
I called his number and it’s back on, so he must have paid his bill. “Hey,” I said to his answering machine, mock-heartily, “I thought you were going to call on Tuesday and we were gonna do something. What happened?”
A mistake? Probably. Part of me hopes that Terence will not reply – but I bet he will.
Why did I spend 45 minutes reading about the Justice Society of America comic book heroes on the Web today? Well, the latest ABA Journal, which featured a cover article on creativity, said reading anything interesting can be useful for unlocking lawyers’ creativity.
I emailed Ivan at VisionComm, and apparently he did work there, but the response says he no longer does. Could he be CEO in January and out in May? Apparently those Silicon Valley jobs don’t last long.