Today I began my career as a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Miami. The loss of status is a bit jarring. When I arrived at the meeting, the composition program director, Kathy Bell, mistook me for the janitor and started telling me to clean up the room before I explained who I was.
I bet lots of people suppose I’m a spoiled, pampered brat. Am I? I don’t think so. . . On the whole, I’m not a bad guy. My biggest faults are self-pity, self-consciousness, and an insatiable need to be noticed, along with a tendency to gossip and to be a little too cute.
I went back to North Miami Beach down University/NW 27th Avenue and along 163rd Street, about a 40-minute drive. At home, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself until I opened one letter, from Ed Hogan: “Paydirt! The Times Book Review is scheduled to review your book August 14th.”
I was finally falling asleep around 1 AM when the phone rang. “Hello?” I said, trying not to sound incoherent. A raspy whisper: “I…want…to blow…you…” Deciding this was no one of my acquaintance, I said, “Yeah, well, we all want something,” hung up, and pulled the plug out.
On his way in, Clay said, “Ah, my favorite class,” and on the way out, he smiled and said, “You’ve made my day.” He’s so cute and intelligent and friendly – as I see it getting hopeless, I find I’m just liking him that much more.
I’ve just been outside by the pool, marking papers through great force of effort. That redheaded guy was in the pool with (I assume) his girlfriend, and they were surprisingly friendly, telling me to jump in. I said I had too much work to do, and he said, “It’s Saturday night!”
I went to the South Florida Gay Pride Festival, held at the Hollywood Sportatorium. Almost immediately, I saw a familiar face: an ex-student of mine whose name I couldn’t remember. Hand in hand with his boyfriend, and wearing an “I’m Proud to Be Gay” button and a huge grin, the kid had dignity.
Todd dropped me off at the subway stop at 14th Street before he and Josh drove back to Brooklyn. I decided to get off at 79th rather than 86th so that I could take one last walk down Broadway. Teresa and Juliana were in their bathrobes, chatting and drinking coffee, when I got home.
He believes sex should be exciting, and he loves the danger of public sex. Elihu’s fantasy is to have sex on top of the Empire State Building, and he told me about his experiences in Brooklyn Heights playgrounds. It’s hard for me to think of him as the same quiet boy I sat next to in social studies class in high school.
One hundred years ago, the Bridge was “the Eighth Wonder of the World,” an amazing achievement by Washington, John and Emily Roebling and the workers who built it. There can be nothing like that today. I watched the fireworks from one of two 110-story towers, but I can’t imagine anyone celebrating the 100th anniversary of the sterile, utilitarian World Trade Center.