A Junior's Diary 1971 (1)
9/1 An almost-autumn day. For the first time I wore the jeans Shelli had bleached and appliquéd. She and I got downtown to Planned Parenthood this morning just as it opened up. They took the girls in for urine samples, and I was worried since Shelli didn’t come out for a long time. She finally did, saying that ironically she’d finally had her period. We all went in for a rap session with a couple of nurses. They gave us coffee and donuts and we discussed birth control devices. It was fun – I was the only guy there, and one nurse said they like to see that. Then the girls went for their gynecological exams. After a couple of hours, Shelli came out looking happy. They gave us a two-month supply of pills at a nominal cost. We were so happy and relieved and in love.
9/3 Shelli phoned with bad news. Elspeth had called her early this morning to tell her that Jerry’s mother died during the night. I put on a tie and jacket and went to Mrs. Sherman’s funeral. It was sad. As we watched the hearse pull away for the cemetery, I spoke to Elspeth, who was very upset and angry that no one else from school – Jerry’s friends – had showed up. Jerry is still in Europe, and his father says Jerry “killed” his mother. I went over to the Student Union and was so glad to see Shelli and Avis that I practically hugged them in the street.
9/4 Dr. Polen sent me a postcard from his summer home, reminding me of our session on Tuesday. I still haven’t decided whether to continue with therapy. A letter arrived from Jerry; ironically, it was dated over a month ago and just got here. That poor guy. Maybe he’d like to stay at my house when (if?) he comes back.
9/5 I’m worried about Shelli; the Pill is making her dizzy.
9/6 Surprisingly, Elspeth paid me back the money she owed me. She told me about this fantastically beautiful guy she met last night: 23, 6’2”, blond, blue eyes. Only one problem: tomorrow he’s going on trial for grand larceny. Typical of Elspeth’s crushes. Meanwhile, Scott probably has syphilis, making Avis really upset.
9/7 Shelli got into registration early because our friend the Wackenhut guard was standing at the door of the gym. She pulled three courses for me. But she wasn’t feeling well. I wish she’d stop taking that stupid pill.
9/8 On campus early, I ran into Elihu, who said Jerry was there. But Elihu spoke disdainfully, said that Jerry was affected and spoke with a British accent and carried a handbag. I found Jerry with the others in Hamilton. We didn’t say much – I didn’t know what to say. He talked about his trip. I think the best part was meeting his friend Borje in Spain and then staying with Borje’s family in Sweden. Shelli and Elspeth came from registration, and Shelli said we should all go out for lunch. At first Jerry declined, but I persuaded him to join us at the pizzeria. It was such a strange scene, and the first time he’d talked to Elspeth in over a year. He’s staying with his father on Staten Island, and it’s rough. All the mirrors were covered and he kept cutting himself shaving. Later Shelli went for a walk with him, and he cried to her. He told her I love her a lot and that she shouldn’t go out with other guys. He also said he still cares for Elspeth, but that now she hangs out with drug addicts and creeps. Poor Jerry.
9/9 Dr. Polen called, wanting to know why I skipped our appointment. He told me to make sure and come next week.
9/10 I’m too dependent on Shelli. I used to be me, but now I’m just Shelli’s boyfriend. Somewhere along the line she became the dominant one in our relationship. For my own good, I may not see her anymore. I need to feel like a man again, and intentionally or not, Shelli has taken away my masculinity. Tonight Shelli told me something Jerry said yesterday: that in the beginning she was protected by me, but now I’m more insecure and less stable than she. That scares the hell out of me. I feel as though my world were falling apart. Am I holding Shelli back?
9/11 I was depressed all afternoon. I called Jerry, but either he was talking very low or the connection was bad; I could barely hear him. Tonight I got myself all spiffed up, wearing that new crew-neck sweater from Campus Closet and my bleached jeans with the appliqués on the knees, and I went over to Shelli’s. I brought with me three white carnations, an all-white card that said, “What we are is what love is” and the new James Taylor album I got for her. She makes me feel masculine and I love her.
9/12 Shelli and Avis and I went to see The Love Machine. Avis said that Scott had only a prostate infection, not syphilis. Avis thinks Scott is some kind of god – but he constantly hurts her. Like, he gets very agitated if someone refers to Avis as his girlfriend, and he orders her about – sort of, anyway. Shelli had another stomach ache during the movie. I wish she’d see the doctor. I blame it on the Pill, not Jacqueline Susann’s stupid story.
9/13 I had a fair session with Dr. Polen. He told me my hair was too long and that I’d gotten fat. He told me to date other girls, that my relationship with Shelli was a “clutching” one, and said I shouldn’t “miss out on all those nubile, luscious co-eds.”
9/15 On campus this morning, it was just as if summer had never happened. More crowds than ever before. My Poli Sci and Anthro courses seem to be all right.
9/16 My Romantic Poetry course looks good. Shelli’s worried because her father is in a deep depression. I think I know how he feels. Well, not really. Jerry came to school, saying everything is okay. He’s sending a batch of his poems to a literary agent, hoping to get them published. Very bad headache tonight.
9/17 After class I sat around Hamilton with everyone making witty remarks about people who weren’t there. Shelli’s father won’t go to work. Her new shrink, Dr. Russell, recommended a psychiatrist for him.
9/18 I’m worried about my last few sexual experiences.
9/20 A horrible day. I spent the morning kvetching, I spent the afternoon kvetching, and I spent the evening kvetching. Sometimes you feel that one thing piles up on another, all bad, and if one more thing happens, you’ll go nuts.
9/21 What can you say about a twenty-year-old boy with a bad cold? That he watched soap operas and game shows and old movies? That he took Bufferin and Contac and Kaopectate? That he got bored out of his mind?
9/22 Fever today. Shelli came over later from the mall, and I was grateful for the company. She kept trying to hug me and I kept running away, not wanting her to catch my germs.
9/23 Somehow I’ve gotten through another day. Still sick as a canine. Shelli called. She’s started coughing and sneezing. Scott told me I didn’t miss anything important in Poli Sci.
9/24 I woke up from a good sleep feeling pretty well. I called Shelli and was dismayed to hear her sounding awful. Anyway, it was good to get back to school.
9/25 Shelli had the doctor last night. She’s got to stay in bed for the weekend. The three white carnations I gave her two weeks ago – Moe, Joe and Flo – died.
9/26 Channel 13 put on a marathon twenty-four hour version of The Forsyte Saga. I watched the whole thing. I feel beastly (see, I’m even talking like a Galsworthy character!) I am enamored – no, perhaps obsessed is a better word – of writing something similar. But there are no families like the Forsytes today, not even Brian’s. My idea is a novel, a long modern soap opera about people bound by youth and friendship: like the crowd at school. Shelli’s still ill; bless for her watching every episode of the show.
9/27 In Hamilton Hall this morning, everyone discussed the Forsytes. School went fine. Tonight I really talked to Shelli for the first time in a long time (or so it seems). This separation is temporary and we’ll soon be back together. She’s feeling better.
9/28 I saw Shelli only for a minute between classes. But tonight I went to her house and we went for a drive. We kissed and petted and embraced. God, how my lips missed hers. Jerry called me later. He got a response from a literary agent, is still jobhunting, still a bit depressed. It’s good to be one with Shelli again.
9/29 Yom Kippur was very Indian summer-ish. Shelli and I were supposed to go out for Chinese food so that we could eat pork and be very unJewish. When I told this to Grandpa Ike last night, he said his father’s atheist friends back in Latvia used to do the same thing on Yom Kippur, only their pork didn’t come with egg rolls. Avis was supposed to join us (Scott was in temple) but in the end I said I didn’t feel like going, and Shelli and I had a big fight. She said she didn’t love me anymore. We made up and decided to spend the day together doing something else, so we went to the beach, where it was beautiful. We watched the tide roll in and drew in the sand and felt the salt spray on our faces. But something was wrong with Shelli, and later I found out what it was. She talked with Jerry last night after I spoke to him, and he asked her to go to Chinatown with him. She accepted and was feeling guilty. I know I’m going to be hurt again, but it’s the best thing for Shelli. We’re drifting apart; she’s a woman, and I’m still a boy.
9/30 I’ve been having more frequent and bothersome anxiety attacks lately, especially in my classes. My cold returned. At least my English class was good today: we discussed Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. Shelli and I met on the steps of Cavanaugh. When I said I’d speak to her tonight, she said no, that she was going somewhere with Avis. I told her I knew she was really seeing Jerry. She said I was right and I hurried off to Poli Sci, but I couldn’t concentrate and left in the middle of the class. I went to a student government meeting that was boring. As I was about to leave campus, I saw Jerry. We talked for a while and he asked me to come with him and Shelli to Chinatown. I declined.
10/1 I called Dr. Polen last night and spoke to him about my anxiety attacks. He said it was nothing to worry about, that we’d talk about it in therapy. Shelli called a bit after that. I was hurt, although I had no right to be, and I was cool to her. She and Jerry went to Wo Hop’s for dinner and then went over to St. Marks Place to see Yankee Doodle Dandy. Shelli wanted to talk more about something else: her father has decided to go into the hospital for shock treatments.
10/2 Shelli and I went back to Planned Parenthood today. They gave her a four-month supply of pills, which I paid for.
10/3 Professor Farmer invited the class to go on one of his architectural tours of Manhattan today, and I wanted to go. But Shelli needed me, with her father going into Gracie Square and all. She looked tired when I arrived at the apartment this afternoon. She got a phone call – she said it was from Avis – and afterwards we started to play Risk. But I kept winning and she got mad and finally threw the game board over and started crying. Then she said it wasn’t Avis who called, it was Jerry, but she told him I was there and she couldn’t talk. She kept crying and I told her to do what was best for her. Dr. Russell wants her to date other guys, and I guess she wants to. So maybe I’ll see other girls.
10/4 Today was an eternity. I’ve broken up with Shelli. Elspeth said, “For how long this time?” but I’m afraid we’ve reached the point of no return. When I arrived in Hamilton this morning, Shelli, Elihu and Scott were sitting around. Shelli found a note from Elspeth, which made references to how Shelli was getting along with Jerry. That brought the whole thing back. Shelli said she’s definitely decided to see other boys; this morning’s session with Dr. Russell decided that. I phoned Dr. Russell and shouted, “Pig!” into the receiver, just as Shelli had done with Dr. Polen. But it just made me feel like an idiot afterwards. In Poli Sci, I couldn’t concentrate. I went home depressed; I didn’t want to see Dr. Polen, but finally I decided to go and I took a cab downtown. The stupid driver wouldn’t stop talking about mutual funds, whatever they are, the whole trip. Dr. Polen said that my fear is that Shelli will sleep with another guy and I’ll think I’m a shit, lousy in bed as I am in everything else. He suggested I tell Shelli either she doesn’t date other guys or it’s all over and we’ll just be friends. Maybe it wasn’t fair giving her that choice, but as Dr. Polen says, I have to think of myself. So it’s over. There were tears, “I love you’s,” “I hate you’s,” and as I left her house, I didn’t look back. She called Avis and Jerry; I called Elspeth and Elihu and Scott. By tomorrow everyone in Hamilton will know.
10/5 Shelli and I sort of came to some kind of unspoken understanding late last night. Then she told me to call Jerry, as he was afraid I hated him. He told me straight: he liked Shelli and would ask her out again – and I told him I was depressed and didn’t want to go school. Mom let me have the car this morning and I drove out to the beach. For an hour I stood thinking at the beach on the block where Brian lives. On the way back home, a man and a little baby hitched a ride with me. I went back to school finally, but I didn’t go to class. Shelli also cut her class and we talked by the lily pond. She spoke to Jerry again after I called him, and I felt she and he were close and that I was the outsider. We hurt each other a lot, but I kissed her as she went off to Bio. Jerry showed up on campus. He had told Shelli that he was going to take me out to lunch, but I’m afraid I was very cool to him. I came home feeling depressed.
10/6 We didn’t get a quorum for the student government meeting, so I went to the Greeks with Shelli, Scott and Avis. Everything was okay.
10/7 I couldn’t get into “Tintern Abbey” in class today. Shelli’s showing the strain of this past week. She came over late this afternoon and we made love. It was very nice. Then I drove her to the subway so she could visit her father in the hospital.
10/8 In Hamilton this morning there was the usual gabbing. I noticed that Shelli left for a while, and when I found her, she was crying. She said I’d turned into a “phony,” a “product of Hamilton Hall.” Scott took us to the mall to have lunch, then dropped us off at my house, where we made love. It was wonderful, being with her like that again. She has a date with Jerry tomorrow night.
10/9 Maybe I should become a divorce lawyer, like my cousin Missy once suggested. For the first time Shelli told me what she weighed – 205 pounds. She’s never told anyone before. We went to see Anna Karenina with Greta Garbo, and afterwards I took her to buy buttons for her cape; she said it would be cold tonight on her date with Jerry. We had sex while her mother was out. She felt very sick afterwards, so I stayed with her. Perhaps she felt guilt about her date tonight. I don’t know. For Shelli, I feel love, hate, everything a man can feel about a woman.
10/10 Shelli says she still loves me, but she’s growing close with him now. They’re discovering new things about each other and I am certain they’ll soon be lovers. I feel as if I had a bad wound and every day people kept re-opening the scab. After I wrote to Jerry this summer how much I loved Shelli, he must have known the hurt he’s causing me. I’ve never done anything nasty to him. I know he’s thinking of himself., just as Shelli is, as I am, as we all have to. But why does there have to be so much hurt?
10/11 Last night I tried to call Shelli and her line was busy. I dialed Jerry’s number and it was busy, too. So I got hysterical. I got this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I tried to commit suicide, I took six or seven Triavils and called Shelli. She was cold and it was over between us. Because of the pills, I slept, but I kept thinking of Jerry and Shelli. For the past week I’ve been dreaming of her making it with other guys. This morning I just didn’t want to get up. I didn’t cry. It was Columbus Day with no school and nothing to do. She called this evening and I was polite but distant. I later went over to see her; she had been crying. And she cried more when I said I could now only be her friend. Jerry says he thought about her all summer, and he loves her very much, will make her love him, and he’ll wait forever. She said she doesn’t love him, but perhaps in time she will. I wrote a note to Dr. Russell, apologizing for my immature behavior over the phone.
10/12 On campus the city flag was at half-mast because Mr. Nixon in the mail room died. Wrong Nixon. Didn’t see Shelli today. Talked with Avis and Scott about their weekend in Boston; they ended up with colds. Had lunch with Elihu and Joe and bunch of other people. Dr. Polen and I had a good session. A good day for a change.
10/13 I was interviewed for the paper this morning about the student court. I paid attention in my classes and maybe I learned something. There was a moratorium rally: speaker after speaker, more rhetoric, shouts of “right on.” Tonight in the car Shelli and I made out like old times. But I felt I was doing something with another guy’s girl.
10/14 Shelli got mad at me for something and she told me she called Jerry when she got home last night. He read over the letters I wrote him this summer and he said he may not see her anymore so as not to hurt me. Elayne came over and asked if there was anything I wanted to talk to her about. I said no, so she gave me her “frank opinion of the situation”: Jerry’s a “cad,” Shelli’s enjoying herself, and I’m the fool of the comedy and need a good woman. I should have said something, but I just walked away and went home. Elayne upset me and I had a stomach ache the rest of theday.
10/15 This morning when I called Shelli I told her I no longer loved her and I didn’t consider myself her boyfriend anymore. I decided to cut Poli Sci, and Shelli came into Hamilton just as I walked in the door. She asked me to make an effort to be friends, and said she’d always give me everything I need. With Avis, I went to a party given by the Classics Club. Then, coming out of the Student Union, I saw Jerry. We talked coolly, about politics. Neither Elihu nor Elayne would speak to Jerry and he looked unhappy.
10/16 I called Shelli this morning; she said she was about to call me. I told her I had
a date last night and that I was very happy. She said that she was unhappy and that I had called at a bad time. There was something she had to tell Dr. Russell, but she couldn’t tell me or Jerry because it would hurt us too much. Perhaps she hates us both.
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Copyright © 2001 Richard Grayson