Sunday, August 1, 1982
It’s about noon, and I’m very sick, nauseated, hot, depressed and exhausted.
I’m in Kevin’s apartment in Maryland, and I think this place added to my feeling of nausea, although I probably am ill; I spent an hour in the McAllisters’ bathroom in Charlottesville trying to throw up in the middle of Friday night.
Next time I come to Washington, I can’t stay at Kevin’s. It’s totally wretched here. He has white bread and hard-as-a-rock cereal to eat; orange juice is drunk out of old frozen juice cans; there are cockroaches everywhere; he can’t turn on the air conditioner till it hits 80°. The place is a slum.
It reminds me a little of my life in Rockaway, and if I had to live Kevin’s life here, I’d kill myself. It would have been worth $60 to stay in a hotel.
Well, here’s the story of the past couple of days:
At 4:30 PM on Friday, we went to UVA to get Wade, who’d been working on his dissertation. Then Ellen went to the Vinegar Hill Theatre to sell tickets for the 5:15 PM show while Wade and Gabriel and I walked through the downtown mall.
Back at home with Ellen at 5:30 PM, we had a great dinner – Ellen is a superb cook – and then she went back to the theater to work as Wayne came over. I did the dishes as a favor to them all.
We sat around bullshitting until Gabriel’s sitter arrived so that we could go out for the evening. Wayne and Wade and I went downtown to Miller’s for drinks and some political talk; Wade is still very enthusiastic about the Citizens Party.
Then, over at the Vinegar Hill, we caught the first night’s showing of Woody Allen’s A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy, which, if not a total failure, was quite disappointing.
We met Ellen back home and talked till 1 AM; then Wade made up the couch for me in the baby’s room.
Immediately upon lying down, I felt extraordinarily dizzy and I was made even more so by the pitch-blackness of the McAllisters’ house.
By 3 AM I was incredibly nauseated as well – I felt that empty-stomach kind of nausea, faint and sweaty and weak. For an hour I sat on the tile of their bathroom retching; it was awful.
When I didn’t throw up, I eventually began feeling better after a glass of ginger ale, and I finally did go to sleep for a couple of hours, only to be awakened at dawn by the baby.
But I felt okay, well enough to travel, and I got on the noon bus to Washington.
I was fine the whole ride, if a little bored, and I discovered the hellhole of the universe: Culpeper, Virginia, a miserable shack-like town. The bus arrived in D.C. at 3 PM and I got a cab to take me here.
After I took Kevin out to dinner at Lum’s, Rick and Gretchen came over at 8 PM and we gossiped about literary politics until 2 AM.
During the night I again became ill; I feel dreadful now.
Monday, August 2, 1982
About noon. Yesterday I felt sickish most of the day. At 2 PM I went out to buy McDonald’s for Kevin and me, but after a few bites, I was nauseated.
Rick, Gretchen and Eric Baizer came over at 3 PM. I enjoyed their visit because the constantly flowing wisecracks and gossip kept my mind off my stomach distress and headache.
Rick brought along the Encyclopedia of Short Fiction, just published by Salem Press, which has entries for me, Rick, Kevin and George – we’re the youngest guys in there.
After they left, I lay on the couch and talked with Kevin about his old girlfriend Dolores, who is still causing him so much trouble. Our conversation reminded me of therapy and also of my destructive relationship with Shelli: that horrible seesaw of expectations and hurt.
I went to sleep early as Kevin watched TV; I dreamed about Star Trek (which was playing on the set). Anyway, I slept long and soundly, something I desperately needed, and I woke up feeling a little better.
I’ve been able to get down some cereal and a pastry Kevin went out for when he picked up the mail at the post office.
Baker and Taylor ordered 32 copies of Lincoln’s Doctor’s Dog today, the largest single order the press has received. If only Kevin could get an order for 32 copies every day, we’d be fine.
Mom just called to say that she and Dad went to my apartment yesterday and they couldn’t turn the electricity on. I explained that was because Mike shut off the meter. Tomorrow he’s going to open the apartment for me.
Mom suggested I get a cleaning woman to take care of the place, especially since the landlord left my refrigerator door closed instead of open, and it’s got a smell.
That call makes me feel as though I’m returning back to my life in Florida. Mom said they’ve sent the cover for Eating at Arby’s. Dad is in Jacksonville now, so I can sleep in Davie tonight.
My plane leaves at 6:45 PM. I’m nervous, of course – and even more so because I have an upset stomach. But the flight is two hours long, and even if I’m deathly ill and anxious for two hours, I’ll still be home by 10 PM at the latest.
Also, despite the recent crashes, I did fly just three weeks ago and I also flew three weeks before that. Six weeks ago I left Florida, and now I’m coming home.
I wonder how things would have worked out if I had stayed in Florida all summer. I would be in really good financial shape, but I’d probably have gotten bored out of my mind. Now, at least, I’m looking forward to teaching in three weeks.
I know I won’t be able to do everything I’ve planned in the coming year, but as tired as I am, I do feel rejuvenated.
The past year – August to August – has been without question the happiest year of my life. If only the next could be as good.
I mustn’t forget Sean; it will be good to see him. I hope things haven’t changed that much between us. Again, we shall see.
Huh – That’s Miriam’s expression. Rick told me she’s marrying Robert.
All of a sudden, I feel excited; I wish I were in Florida already. It’s going to be a long wait until tonight.
4:30 PM. I’m at National Airport. My flight has been delayed until 8 PM and maybe later. It seems that it’s hard for me to get home. Oh, why didn’t I take an earlier flight?
I could have been home in a couple of hours from now if I paid the $81 to switch flights.
We’ll see if saving money is worth it. I have only about $30 in cash right now, but I still have $140 in traveler’s cheques. Back home I have about $1,800 in all my accounts, which should be enough to get me through the next month.
Gosh, I wish I weren’t so scared of flying. After all, this trip will be shorter than Saturday’s bus ride from Charlottesville to D.C.
Still, I can’t help remembering the Air Florida crash here in the winter and me being on their flight 90 last year. I am worried that this flight will encounter turbulence or that I’ll get really sick. I should always try to fly in the morning; I hate this waiting.
I left Kevin’s at 3 PM. On the ride to the airport, the Nigerian cab driver talked my ear off about computers and dope dealing. There was a long line at the Pan Am terminal and then I discovered that my flight to Fort Lauderdale will be an hour or more late.
What a drag to be stuck at the airport for another three hours. What a drag not to be getting home until so late.
6:30 PM. I’m now at Gate 38. I read latest issue of The Washingtonian and had dinner – though I didn’t eat much of it – at the now-familiar Golden Eagle restaurant.
I feel as terrified as I was that first time I flew to Fort Lauderdale on Christmas Eve in 1979. I remember the beginning of Erica Jong’s book and I wonder if I’ll ever get over my fear of flying.
I think of a fictional diary entry:
9 PM. My flight crashed on takeoff. I’m dead. My body is in the Potomac. I don’t know where my spirit is. It didn’t hurt much, but the few seconds of terror were hell. Is this hell? I’m still scared. Mom and Marc are still waiting for me. By the Pan Am board a sign is being posted next to flight 391 – “See agent.” I’ll never see my parents again, or my grandparents or brothers. Or Sean. Or anyone else I love. I mean “loved.”
Jesus, see what fear does to a writer! I’m a sentimental slob.
7:30 PM. The sky is clouding up – it looks like a thunderstorm. I’m getting really scared. The plane has yet to come in from New York, so there’s no telling how many minutes or hours it will be until takeoff.
With nothing to do, I called Cousin Scott, who said that everything is fine at home in Bethesda. The baby is doing well, and Scott and Barbara are learning to be parents.
On a whim, I started looking at the area phone books and found Shelli listed in the Northern Virginia directory. I called her. Naturally she was surprised. “Surprised?” Shelli said. “It’s a coronary.”
She’s been living here for a while and this has been a bad year for her. She was engaged to marry “a very special person,” an older man with lupus – but he had a stroke and is now a vegetable.
Shelli worked as a travel agent – she was in Miami a few weeks ago and will probably be back again – but she really wants to go to work in TV.
She said that Leon has been in bad shape in New York, especially since the death of his mother. I told her about Avis, Ellen, Ronna and the other people from Brooklyn College.
She seemed to harbor no grudge against me; I feel I have made amends. Shelli asked where she could buy a copy of my book and I said I’d send her one.
Tuesday, August 3, 1982
8 PM. Back in Florida, in my bedroom, I feel that my trip was the best thing I could have done.
Even if I became ill and was sometimes unhappy, I was taking risks and on my own; every once in a while I need to convince myself that I’ll never again be agoraphobic. Last night proved that. I didn’t panic.
When a woman asked me if I’d go to the bar and have a drink with her, I agreed and spent the time talking to her (she was going for a two-day trip to see her boyfriend, who just got leave from the U.S.S. Nimitz) and to others in the bar.
We finally boarded at 9:30 PM and took off quickly. There wasn’t a moment of anxiety in the two-hour flight, and I actually loved it. You know, it’s time I stopped saying I fear flying because I really don’t; what I fear is the anticipation of it.
When we landed in Fort Lauderdale at 11:30 PM, Mom and Marc were waiting for me. (Dad is on business in Jacksonville). Marc looked good – tanned and healthy – but I was surprised to realize how obese Mom is.
Back in Davie, Jonathan was watching TV (he got a Betamax to record shows), and he also looked fine. Mom gave me her bedroom for the night. Although I stayed up till 2 AM reading my mail, I did sleep well.
Since I couldn’t get in touch with Mike Maynard, I used the extra keys to get into the apartment. I made two trips to the warehouse to bring over stuff; Marc accompanied me on one and was good enough to work like a dog cleaning my refrigerator.
I went to various banks to do things with my money. Since Dad’s business is going so badly, Mom may need to borrow from me to meet expenses.
Luckily the Canadians will be moving into Grandma Sylvia’s old North Miami Beach apartment in September, so Dad will have some capital coming in – about $25,000.
I also went to the drug store and the supermarket, to Sunrise City Hall to arrange for my gas to be turned on tomorrow, and I paid my bills from Florida Power & Light, Visa, the Miami Herald and Southern Bell.
I still have so much to do, but my apartment is starting to look like mine again. Mike fixed the toilet and the drapes, but the bed is still weird.
I haven’t gotten to all of my mail yet – there are letters to answer (Scott Sommer, Ivy Garlitz, Bobby Frauenglas, etc.) and magazines to read. Pac-Man Ate My Cat was rejected by A & W, and I’m beginning to suspect that it’s not at all commercial.
I feel I have so much to do that it will never get done. It’s also obvious I grew fat in the last six weeks. I’ll have to join a health club.
Josh sent me several copies of Grinning Idiot; in Maryland, Rick said he had liked the magazine a great deal.
I have to call my friends in New York and hope that some of them will forgive me for not returning in August as I said I would.
I got the cover for Eating at Arby’s: peach palm trees, very much like what I wanted. What I’m going to have to do is start making lists to publicize the book. I do have 19 days before work at Broward Community College begins, and I’m going to be busy – it’ll be a change from the summer.
Brooklyn, Rockaway, Manhattan, VCCA, Charlottesville, Washington, Maryland – I’ve had a busy six weeks. If I had remained here, I’d be sick of the humid, hot and rainy weather by now instead of feeling glad to be home.
Sean isn’t home: nobody answers, so I assume he and his mother have gone to Gainesville. In a way I’m almost glad because I can get some things done without wanting Sean to be here all the time.
I feel I should have so much more to say, but I don’t. Six weeks away makes for a lot of catching up. But I don’t think I’ve licked my traveling bug – that is, I want to keep doing it. I look forward to my book party in New York this fall. And maybe I’ll go away next summer, too.
Saturday, August 7, 1982
Noon. The last couple of days seem like out of a nightmare, or a dream. Even now I’m still ill. My temperature is 101° and my head and back still ache.
However, my stomach is better; I just ate a turkey and cheese sandwich that I was actually able to finish without becoming nauseated.
Looking back, I see that I’ve been ill for a week and just didn’t let myself give in to the sickness until I was back in my own apartment.
The dizziness and nausea I felt at the McAllisters’ in Charlottesville last Friday night was more serious that I realized. Perhaps if I’d taken care of it, I would have not gotten this ill. But last Saturday, I had that three-hour bus ride to Washington and the long cab ride to Kevin’s.
Staying up last Saturday night was the worst thing for me, and I was sick all day Sunday. By Monday I felt better, but the stress of being at the airport for 6½ hours – combined with the flight itself (and I did feel pressure in my sinuses while I was in the air) – must have made this sinus infection worse.
Instead of relaxing when I got to Florida, I insisted on doing everything all at once – including some very heavy labor on a day when it hit 96°.
So my illness seems to make sense – as it does from a psychological point of view. I have just come through six weeks when I was completely on my own handling everything – my travel arrangements, getting sick in Rockaway, dealing with my grandparents – so well.
Part of me still hates to face the fact that I’m an independent adult, and so I reverted – probably unconsciously – to as helpless as I’ve been in a long time.
There are other things at work here, too. For one thing, I now have more sympathy for the illnesses of my grandparents; I treated them much too harshly in New York, and I am ashamed of that.
I also see that when push comes to shove, I’m mighty glad to have my family around. If they weren’t here, I’d be in a fine mess. Marc was especially thoughtful. (Marc said that he’s definitely planning on taking two courses at BCC this term, so this year I will have a different brother on campus.)
Of all my family, Jonathan is definitely the coldest and most unsympathetic. When I called him on Thursday, when I was in terrible pain, and said I might go to the emergency room of a hospital, he said, “Call me later” and hung up.
Dad and Mom came over last night, and Dad and I talked while Mom fixed up the apartment. He had a good business trip through Florida, and it was nice to see Dad again after nearly two months.
After they left, I felt sleepy – and I really slept an awful lot last night. My back now aches from being in bed so much, but I’ve been well enough to have a coherent conversation with Sean for an hour, and then to shower and shave and change and eat the first decent meal I’ve had in three days.
Sean sounds good – although he admitted he has mixed feelings about going to Gainesville next week. I feel bad that I haven’t seen him yet, but maybe I can see him tomorrow. I hope I’ll be better.
9 PM. Notes from the Sick Bed: I spoke to Sean twice today. As usual, we talked about this and that and nothing. Tonight he’s going to the bars with Jeff.
I have the feeling that Sean is more worried or frightened or concerned about going to college than he lets on. As usual, he tends not to talk things out. Right now I feel more like a friend to Sean than his lover.
It’s almost as if I put our sexual relationship in the past already. I’m glad I’m not lovesick over him – though I do love the kid, God knows.
Selma called. She’s been having trouble with the county wheelchair car service, which is being cut back because of budget restraints.
Selma’s anxious to begin her grad work in psych but has no money, so she’ll probably just take a course at BCC this term. Her son continues to be active in that born-again Christian group; she isn’t thrilled about it but says at least Alex won’t get involved in crime or drugs because he’s too afraid of the devil.
Mike and Cindy had a big (8 lbs., 15 oz.) baby boy in June, the day after they failed to show up at Larry’s party. Excuses, excuses.
Last week Rick told me that Miriam had written him that she and Robert were getting married. I can’t remember if I wrote Miriam back or not. When Rick said that, Kevin lit up with glee and said, “Then Zephyr Press can’t do your book” – though why Miriam’s marriage would prevent the publication of my book, I have no idea.
It’s obvious Kevin would like me to stick with White Ewe Press, and perhaps I’ll let him put out another collection in 1984 or so, if he’s still in business. But I need to see what Zephyr can do with a paperback book rather than a hardcover.
I may be kvetchy when I get really sick, but I did function on my own for the last couple of months in different places. I now believe I could move to take a new job in a city where I know at least some people – for example, Washington, Boston, or San Francisco.
Patrick wrote me a nice letter which he mailed to VCCA; it was forwarded here. He said I was one of the few 101 teachers in the first summer session to have the students do a term paper.
It’s been great being away from BCC for the past seven weeks. Two more to go now before the fall term begins.
I feel better now. I ate today, was not nauseated, and had only a slight headache. I look better than I did, too.
Perhaps the illness was a much-needed forced vacation. I got all that exhaustion out of my system. Part of me is scared that the winter of ’80 experience will repeat itself and that I’ll be sick for a long time. I do feel depressed but that’s part of my illness.
At least I could look at it this way: I got two major illnesses this summer without having to take off a day from work. And I’m not spending much money while I’m stuck in bed, though I gave Mom $50 to stock up my refrigerator.
My temperature’s down to 100°.
Sunday, August 8, 1982
8 PM. I started feeling much better last evening. My head is now clear, and I just hope it was my sinuses that were causing the trouble – and not something like tic douloureux. I guess I’ve always been scared of that disease in particular because Bubbe Ita had it and I remember how horribly painful her attacks seemed.
When I put on my contact lenses again, I discovered what I had suspected: I can barely see out of them. Tomorrow I’ll have to order (and pay for) new lenses.
I called Sean to see if he might want to come over last evening, but he’d already made plans to go out with Jeff. “Have fun,” I told him. “Don’t get drunk and pass out.”
I watched some political debates with local congressional and county commission candidates. Most of the novices are so bad in front of the camera they look more like joke candidates than I did. Some of them were ridiculously stupid, making gross errors (putting the start of the New Deal in the 1940’s) or being absurdly pompous (“I have made a thorough investigation of that matter and have concluded that life begins at conception”).
I can’t believe that I have so much more presence on TV than they do, but I guess I’m a decent performer in front of people.
By 11 PM, I was in such a good mood that I began reading, something I’d been unable to do while I was ill.
I got up-to-date on my back issues of Publishers Weekly and Writer’s Digest and I began thinking of more possible markets for Pac-Man Ate My Cat and for publicity and marketing ideas for Eating at Arby’s and the Zephyr Press book. (I wish it would have a title already).
I listened to jazz and thought about life and felt wonderful till about 6 AM, when I finally drifted off to sleep.
The phone woke me at 9:30 AM: it was Sean. He had thrown up in the bathroom of the bar and then passed out on the way home.
The poor kid felt awful and embarrassed, but I can’t help wondering if he doesn’t wonder about this himself: if he’s drinking this way at 17, where can that lead?
For the first time I said something to him, something very mild: When he told me he blacked out last night, I told him, “They call people who do that alcoholics.” I think I must have upset him because he hasn’t called back even though I invited him over today. Oh, well.
I read the Sunday papers, made French toast, went out for a little while, and cogitated. I think I work much better at home than in a writers’ colony.
I called Miriam in San Francisco after I discovered the letter I wrote to her and forgot to mail. She was delighted to hear from me and said that yes, she and Robert will probably get married after meeting each other’s family in New Jersey this fall.
My book publication party will probably be in November or December, and we’ll all meet there. She’s so sweet.
Catching up on other mail: Tom Whalen seemed tickled pink with good advance reviews of the Robert Walser book. Scott Sommer wrote, “Publishing a book – or, rather, watching what doesn’t happen to a book once it’s published, is becoming about as much fun as the annual polyp hunt by Dr. X.” He thanked me for my comments on Last Resort.
Also, Ivy Garlitz, my 19-year-old fan in North Miami Beach, invited me to her birthday party last night (obviously I couldn’t go); Bobby Frauenglas thanked me for some help I gave him and sent a nice article about the Atlantic Lit Review in Flatbush Life (it had some nice words for me); Steve Kowit sent a nice friendly note.
Monday, August 9, 1982
10 PM. I just came back from a brief trip to my parents’ house. Both Mom and Dad commented on how pale I looked.
Now, in the mirror, I see it, too: I definitely look as though I’ve been ill. My eyes look tired and lusterless; my skin is pale and dry; and my whole expression seems worn. I know that I’ll be healthy again in a couple of weeks, but this infection will take time to go away completely. Until I finish taking the penicillin, I don’t want to sit in the sun.
Although I haven’t been teaching or doing work, this summer has not exactly been a carefree picnic. I feel I’ve been in touch with some of the dark side of life – if that doesn’t sound too melodramatic.
Today, though, was mostly ecstasy. Sean came over at noon and didn’t leave until after 8 PM. We spent much of the day in each other’s arms. He, too, first noticed my paleness. Sean himself was sunburned like a Greek god. At first I felt a little shy with him.
We sat talking; I showed him the page proofs for Arby’s and let him read Pac-Man. Finally he kissed me, I kissed back, and we were off.
At first we had our shirts and jeans on – he had on that red Sasson shirt I gave him, the one I especially like. His hair is long, the way I like it, too. I was surprised that Sean seemed handsomer in reality than in my memory.
We kissed and hugged and told each other “I love you.” I guess a lot of sloppy words poured out of me all day. Out of Sean, too, a little.
When we got undressed and made love, it was perfect for me. Sean’s body is a gorgeous comfort to me, and I think I could hold him – or have him hold me – forever.
What I like about our lovemaking is that we can constantly change roles and positions. If I want to, I can be the submissive boy or the dominant man – and Sean can, too.
I don’t want to sound pornographic – which is to say inane – but it was very good to hold his cock in my hands again.
When we’re in bed, I forget everything – the difference in our ages, our backgrounds, our upbringings, our tastes, our religions. At one point during sex, I touched a penis and could not figure out if it was his or mine. No wonder we had nearly simultaneous orgasms.
By 3 PM I was hungry, so we showered and went out to McDonald’s. We were talking a lot about his going to Gainesville next week, and I think it’s upset him a little. He’s been having insomnia and a nervous stomach.
Hell, it would terrify me to do what Sean is doing. He’ll be living by himself in a trailer and starting a college where he has only a couple of friends.
His Social Security checks will cover the costs – when he mentioned Social Security, I finally realized that Sean’s father must be dead – but going to UF can’t be easy for him.
Sean has never been away from South Florida except on vacations. He’ll miss his mother a lot, and his home and the dogs and Jeff and his other friends. And he’s also going to miss me, Sean said. Several times today we talked about it and then fell silent in the sadness of the situation.
I am going to miss Sean terribly. But over the last seven weeks in New York and Virginia, I always felt part of him with me. We have a relationship that seems non-neurotic in that we can give each other so much and yet we can also lead separate lives because we know we have to.
Sean went with me to the post office and the library and then we came home and soon went to bed again. Our afternoon lovemaking was less intense and hurried passionate, but more playful and thoughtful and relaxed.
Perhaps I’m fooling myself, but I can’t imagine a better love relationship. We play each other’s bodies well.
I kept telling him how much he meant to me and how gorgeous (inside and out) he is. “I’m proud of you,” I said once – and I’m also proud of myself for having the guts and good sense to love someone like Sean.
No doubt about it: Sean has many flaws – but so what? (“Thank God” is more like it.)
Why he loves me is something I don’t quite understand. But I have given him a lot of myself – though it was a pleasure every time and I still feel I’ve got a better deal by a ratio of 6 to 1. There’s no one on earth I feel closer to right now.
Look, a year ago I was still unloved and unloving, never having known real male sexual affection. Hell, just four months ago it was still only a fantasy. Now – whatever the future – I know that I’ve had a relationship that’s been honest and real and loving.
Where it will lead, I don’t know, but I suspect Sean and I will always remain friends. I haven’t had many lovers, yet I feel a bond with all of them – and I can’t imagine ever not feeling that way about Sean.
Last Monday night, when I called Shelli, I realized how good it was to talk to her and how our estrangement had bothered me. Talking to Ronna on Sunday, I also felt a closeness that was forged in love.
True, I also feel close to Susan, Miriam, Teresa and others I never slept with – well, maybe there’s no difference. In any case, I feel rather lucky.
This morning I got my new lenses and I now see clearly again. I’ve been staying up late nights, reading or listening to talk shows; because of the hot August weather, I seem to come alive at night here. The days are sickeningly bright and humid. While I can, I want to maintain this schedule.
Meanwhile, I look forward to November’s cool breezes the way I used to look forward to May when I lived up North.
I’ve still got a couple of weeks before school begins. There’s little to do except recovering from my illness, seeing Sean – until he leaves this weekend – and doing odds and ends around the house.
It’s a little different from last year when things happened fast and I was at my parents’. (It now seems hard to believe that I stayed there for 2½ months, until mid-October.)
And it’s odd how much I’m looking past this year and wondering – not how to get through it, because there’s a lot I want to do, but what kind of person I’ll be and what kind of life I’ll be living in another year.
I spoke to Teresa for an hour. She’s still at the Attorney General’s office, where things are getting a tad better. It’s obvious someone pulled the plug on her; she’s not allowed to do any politicking.
She and Sharon are through. Sharon’s been vicious, and Teresa finally decided to give up the friendship. But Deirdre was in New York for a week, and they had fun despite Teresa’s getting a bad virus.
Fire Island is fine. Teresa and her friend fixed up Mikey with this girl Amy, but Teresa says Gary doesn’t need her help because he’s always surrounded by women at the beach. I wish I could be there with all of them.
Barbara is doing well as she recovers from her mother’s sudden death, and Teresa’s making her a surprise birthday party at Stewart Klein’s house.
Last night Teresa went out with Bill Breitbart from Brooklyn College, now a doctor and supposedly a poet. Curiously, Bill remembered me mostly as “a friend of Elspeth’s.” You never really know how other people see you.