Chapter Sixteen (Clift Hotel)
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Ginny lost the watch pin in North Beach. We’d gone up there to be at the Jazz Workshop at midnight. It was the two-year anniversary of the night we met — which brings me to a point at which I don’t have to rely quite so completely on what’s left of my piecemeal memory. Ha! Yippee! I have a little green diary of stuff I wrote about during the first nine days of 1965. The diary begins with a list of Ginny’s New Year’s Resolutions. They’re in her handwriting and no doubt speak for themselves:
“Gerry will: 1) Persistently, unrelentingly, write at least 3 pages every day, 2) Tell the truth each day about the above, 3) Eat like a hog and become fatter, 4) Get the scholarship to Stanford by next year, (this means writing stories, attending State and APPLYING to Stanford), 5) Take me to a swank hotel once a month and out for dinner and to a culturally and intellectually stimulating event, 6) Keep his apartment clean and neat at least 5 days a week; this resolution may be waived only in the event that Gerry is immersed in writing — at which time slobdom is permitted, 7) Make money — lots of it, 8) Not be sexually narcissistic except if he is absolutely compelled by frustration for a period of seven (7) days, and 9) Read at least one book a week.”
Hey, wait a minute, how come Ginny’s New Year’s Resolutions were all things I was supposed to do? What the hell was she was supposed to do? I don’t think either of us ever knew. Oh, well. Then comes a little preamble in my handwriting — which I barely recognize anymore. Who was this kid?
“Perhaps the most ominous prospective New Year’s Eve I’ve ever experienced began with Ginny on the threshold of acute nuttiness. She was to have gone out to dinner with Tom and his mother — a situation that was scary for various reasons, guilt about her relationship with Tom in his mother’s eyes, how she gets around Christmas, etc. She, in short, didn’t go and came over to my house (in a very beautiful but depressed state). We checked into the Clift Hotel, had a bottle of champagne and went out to a dinner of filet mignon and shish kebab at Omar Khayyam’s. From there we went by cable car to North Beach to be at the Jazz Workshop (where we had met two years ago) at midnight. Somewhere in the wild, mad confetti crowd, Ginny lost her new beautiful watch and was sick all night.”
After that, the day-to-day diary begins:
“Friday, January 1: Ginny and I woke up in our huge bed between sweet yellow sheets, puttered around with TV for awhile and finally slept again ’til 12:40 in the afternoon. I got a small bottle of good champagne and we drank it in front of the city from the edge of the bed. We went to lunch at David’s (lox, pickled herring, sauerbraten, blintzes and pastry) that we took with us to the movie ‘Goldfinger’ that evening. Afterwards, we cleaned my apartment and went happily to bed.”
“January 2: Ginny was to stay in bed all day for her cold. I read to her and rubbed her back while she rested. I made a police report for her lost watch and called about apartments for us to rent. At 4:00 she went to the doctor’s and from there we again had drinks at Omar Khayyam’s. I let Ginny drink. I was happy and confident and she was loving me. Ginny’s drinking resulted in a horribly painful psychotic episode in which she smashed my typewriter and gouged a long slice of skin from my back. I was stupid and sorry for letting her drink (like I was daring her psychotic counterpart to emerge amidst all this love, as though love was a weapon to overcome Ginny’s demons). It didn’t work. I cried very softly, she harder.”
“January 3. Sunday: I knew it was morning when Ginny kissed me, her cheek on my shoulder. She seemed better but embarrassed and shaky. I cleaned the kitchen and bought groceries. She stayed in bed but any favorable responses to food or reading or back rubs grew less and less spontaneous as the day went by. Finally she was a sick girl again — strangely sick, mostly weak, tired, nervous — aftermath from last night I guess. She went to Tom’s and watched television.”
“January 4: I went quickly dressing and not shaving late to work today — extra talkative for some reason. At noon Sabine called. She wanted me to meet her that night. I took my clothes to the laundry and cleaners, then went to Sabine’s. We talked. I got drunk and pretty sick. Ginny came over and made me feel much better.”
“January 5: There was no hangover today and I ran excitedly on coffee and nervous energy, manic as hell. At noon I seduced Ginny, then laughingly took her home (to Tom’s). After work I took a bus downtown and walked in the windy rain for an hour with no coat, trying to get my typewriter fixed. Finally I traded it for an electric. Picked up my laundry, came home, called Ginny late and started writing. After I’d written a bit, I called Ginny again. She was sick-drunk and on her way over here. We laughed. I dictated to her and she typed. She got out of her nuttiness quickly and was loving me for typing. I got aroused, realized I couldn’t work any more. I was tired and went to bed. We made love nicely, pretty much all for me. I think it’s less enjoyable if Ginny doesn’t have an orgasm.”
“January 6: Pretty uneventful. I came home at noon, washed my face and got in the mail all nine Beethoven Symphonies. Ginny was here. We looked witty and irritably at each other. She said I kiss either like a fairy or too femininely, so I kissed her coarsely — she probably thought I was reacting and therefore it was phony (as perhaps it was a bit, but not that much). I don’t like her to ask me questions like, ‘What are you thinking?’ when I’m doing something to her which might be construed as a vent for some kind of queer tendencies. They’re not, but if I say so, she’ll wonder why then did it cross my mind. When I got home, I took a long bath and finished ‘Herzog.’ Beautifully done — writing and ideas.”
“January 7: I couldn’t get out of Bed (capital letters, like God) this morning. I slept ’til one-thirty. Missed an appointment at noon to bring some clothes over to Sabine’s and was slightly disappointed to find that at so late in the afternoon, Ginny hadn’t missed receiving a call. My stove doesn’t work. I paid my rent and bought a shoeshine kit from the Fuller Brush man. I worked ten hours straight writing Ginny’s Luft paper while listening to all nine of the Beethoven Symphonies. When singing burst out in the last one — after eight without any — it scared the crap out of me.”
“January 8: Friday: Was an hour late for work. At noon I took some clothes over to Sabine’s in order to set up our phony apartment. After work I got the gasman to fix my stove and talked with Mrs. Rousseau for a long time. She might be able to let me rent one of the huge beautiful apartments for Ginny and me. I worked on as much more of the Luft paper as I could without having the proper Jung quote. Ginny called me from the Hub Tavern. She had walked out on the symphony and was more angry-drunk than nutty. She came over. We had drinks in the big room and we painfully made love — apologizing and making up later calmly, truly.”
“January 9: Saturday: Elliot came bouncing up to the window in front of which Ginny and I were having a salami, cheese and French bread breakfast. He had been to the zoo. We talked, listened to some stories Elliot told about Vietnam and Thailand and then the three of us went to Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park. Ginny and Elliot paddled themselves around in a paddleboat for a while, just the two of them. I was quiet and a bit uncomfortable. Ginny was a marvelous hostess and Elliot was interestingly nerve jangling — to me at any rate. We took Ginny to her Doc. Elliot and I tonight had another episode of mutual irritation. He asked my permission (half just to make me squirm and half seriously) to take Ginny to Squaw Valley next weekend. That, in the frail state Ginny, myself and ourselves are in, was not the right thing to have asked for reasons I’m not going to go into.”
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At that point, the diary skips a month — in fact, the only other entry in the whole thing is that on February 17, Ginny went to the hospital to get an abortion. It was before they were legal. We had to go through all kinds of rigmarole.
Reading these diary entries reminds me what kids the three of us were, doing the things kids have been doing forever — falling in love, irritating each other, running into predictable complications, figuring them out as best we could. We’re still figuring things out as best we can. Well, some of us are. I am. Fuck.
Which brings me back to Elliot “bouncing” up to our kitchen window. Everything up to now has led to Elliot bouncing up to our kitchen window that Saturday, and everything from now on is going to lead to what Ginny and Elliot and Melanie and I all tried to do with each other back in the summer of 1972. Keep that date in mind. Saturday, January 9, 1965. That was the first time Elliot flat-out tried to steal Ginny away from me. That was the beginning of everything. Could he take her to Squaw Valley? Ha! No. He couldn’t. He could stick Squaw Valley up his ass.
The multimedia version has excerpts from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, but this voice only chapter ain’t bad all on its own. Watch it and see: