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The Yale of My Day
Diary Daze

25 October 1986, 1:50 p.m.

Just back from a run. Nothing to report except that I dozed off in the middle of the Lizzie board meeting yesterday. No one gave any sign that I had, which was strange because I was supposed to be taking the minutes. Once in a while, I came around and saw a smirk. Perhaps it was because one of the board members had his left shoe on his right foot and vice versa. At least it wasn’t as bad as the day I fell asleep in the front row at Darryl Hine’s reading and woke up to hear him announcing, “Perhaps you’ll find this poem more interesting” as I demurely wiped the drool from my chin.

13 November 1986, 8:00 a.m.

In the computer room two women were finishing all-nighters. I vaguely know one of them; that is to say she greets me on the street about 50 percent of the time. A few minutes after I entered she announced, “Jenny, this is great. I just deconstructed Blanche DuBois' name and it totally worked.”

“Let’s hear it,” Jenny says.

“Blanche is ‘white’ and DuBois is ‘of the woods,’” the woman says, “so her name is literally White of the Woods. In French white is feminine, and ‘woods’ is like the masculine power she’s forced to subjugate herself to.”

Jenny laughs. “Sorry, Elise, I don’t like that at all.”

“It totally works,” Elise insists. “And I’ll thank you not to criticize my writing.”

I wisely decide to stay out of it.

5 December 1986, 2:47 a.m.

Dinner with James Merrill and about a dozen other people tonight. Merrill reminds me of a fair-haired Eliot. Impeccable diction. I tried to hold him in conversation, even though we'd moved to another course and I should have rotated to my left. He told me he winters in Key West. “My wife and I have a house down there,” he said, and gave me a little simpatico wink. I grinned back at him, then I had to talk about the chicken recipe with the Master’s wife.

31 January 1987, 2:08 a.m.

Still up. In one ear I’m listening to James across the way throw all his possessions out his window to smash down in the courtyard (guess the Senior Essay isn’t going too well), and in the other Julia is telling me about waking up after Sterling had closed and being chased through the stacks by the guards. All I can do is stare up at my Burberry hanging on the wall and think, Why do I own that?

28 March 1987, 5:55 a.m.

Just back from the Beaux Arts Ball, a chaos of black lights, strobes, balloons, bars, a band, three DJs, food tables, sculpture, and Yale’s 500 top trenderati. Lots of politically correct kissing and ass-kissing going on. The climax: a 2:00 a.m. case of Veuve Clicquot. When the tall gym doors opened at dawn it was like stepping out of Noah’s Ark, except for all the high heels.

18 April 1987, 2:24 a.m.

Bumped into Jack at Naples and had a beer while the Friday night swirled around us. He said he missed me, asked me why I was avoiding him. What the hell could I say? You’re straight, I’m not, and we have to fight our way through that battlefield to a friendship. It kills me and I can’t do anything about it. Perhaps laugh. Perhaps have no reaction. Oh, to hell with it. I’m too tired.

17 May 1987, 2:24 p.m.

Dead week. I and 20 other friends are holed up in a house in northwestern Connecticut. Looking around the breakfast table, surrounded by people I love, anxiety gripped me about how we would change in ten or 20 years. Playing softball yesterday on a level field held up in the palm of the surrounding hills, playing flashlight tag at midnight, I realized that nothing like these present moments has come or will again; they fly into the interlocking of all our pasts, are nuanced according to taste, and finally stored.

How is it possible I feel so old?

24 May 1987, 11:59 p.m.

Graduation Day, rah rah. I’ve spent some of today tanked, some of it stoned (those clay pipes draw pretty well), some of it listening to the President assault my ears, and most of it enjoyably. The bullshit level was actually bearable. A dinner at Bruxelles, a show, and the Commencement Ball at Commons closed off an almost perfect day. C'est tout.

22 June 1987, 9:20 a.m.

I’m penning this entry at the Beinecke, in my Pope’s portrait nook. Fred’s party in Hoboken was Saturday. After what seemed like weeks of detoured driving on the Jersey Turnpike I found Jack getting a beer in the kitchen. He smiled when he saw me, put his foot down on mine, and said, “Oh, no. You’re not going anywhere.”

Half an hour later he was spoon-feeding me chili as we did a somnambulistic foot-to-foot dance in front of the stereo. Suddenly he said, “You know, dude, I would have spent $60,000 a year at Yale to find you.”

Which I thought was stupendous.

For now, though, as usual, it’s back to work.  the end





The Yale of My Day

Young Lords and Lower Classes

Distant Thunder

New Haven On Stage

From White Shoe to Combat Boot

Defying Dink

Harold Bloom and the “Orc Cycles”

Vietnam On Our Mind

Of Reading, and a Wink

A Confusion of Lures

Chronicling a Cauldron

Surviving “Grim Professionalism”

A Not Unwelcome Senselessness

When the World Barged In


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