I went back to Ronna’s, ostensibly for tea. Once settled in the kitchen, however, she gave me a hug and kiss, and I responded, and as we have so many times before, we ended up all over one another. I suggested we move from the kitchen, where we were vertical, to the bedroom, where we got horizontal.
Waiting for the elevator at Baruch this morning, I heard two Chinese kids talking about their teacher: “He’s old, you know, really old – but he looks young.” “Yeah, I know. He’s about 30 – but he looks much younger. ” Give me a break!
At Amsterdam Pizza, a man asked if he could sit down at my table, and I said, “Sure.” His hands and face had the purplish lesions that are the mark of Kaposi’s sarcoma. I tried not to stare at them or at the man, but I kept thinking about how the fear of AIDS has turned society hysterical. When Houston mayoral candidate Louie Welch said that his plan to get rid of AIDS was to “shoot the queers,” he spoke for many Americans.
At dinner at the Grand Canyon, Dad asked me why I was staring at him. “You’re grayer,” I said, not telling him that he reminded me a little of Dustin Hoffman in Death of a Salesman. “I got old,” Dad said. “At my next birthday – I can hardly believe it – I’ll be 69 years old.” Dad remarked that the block we were on had been his territory when he worked for that private investigating firm while he was still in high school.
I was awakened at about 6 AM by a loud rumble, and for a second or two, the room seemed to shake. The lighting fixture was swinging back and forth. “An earthquake,” I thought – and then said to myself, “Don’t be silly. It must be an explosion or something.” I forgot about it until our break at Columbia, when Dipti said, “Did you feel that earthquake this morning?”
At 14th Street, a guy grabbed at a woman’s neck; he quickly ran away as the doors closed. What he’d done was snatch three gold chains. The woman, a young West Indian, said she’d just bought the chains and still had the receipt for them. “I never usually sit next to the door,” she told me. As we made our way into Brooklyn, she kept saying “I just can’t believe it.”
Alice says she may stop reading the Times because the prices on condos and co-ops depress her too much. Sometimes I think I’ve seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by real estate.
I’d like to take the HTLV-III antibody test just to know, even if the gay health experts advise people not to take it. If I tested positive for AIDS exposure, I’m not sure I’d panic or get depressed, but I probably wouldn’t get so upset at the problems of day-to-day life. (I worry more about Sean than I do myself.)
After class, a Haitian girl asked me to look at her poetry, and then a black girl came in and started crying and explained that her uncle, whom she lives with, had locked her in the house for days because he flew into a rage when she asked him for money for books. “It’ll be all right,” I said, as I gingerly touched her shoulder.
Maybe I’m too insensitive and hard-edged, but I learned early on here in Brooklyn that if I was ever going to make it, I couldn’t be any “softer” than I could help being. Of course, Justin’s from Connecticut, which is why he only mildly complains about a driver cutting in front of him on West Street while I yell out, “You bastid! Doncha know how to drive?!”