Sunday, February 18, 2007

Feb. 18 1973, a day of famy

Sunday, February 18, 1973, the first day of Pisces, was one of those clear, bitter days in the Northeast when the pollution has been blown away. "The days lengthen but the cold strengthens." The sun was getting higher in the sky, but I think this was the coldest day of a mild winter in northern New Jersey.

The main bus route from Caldwell, NJ went down Bloomfield Ave. descended the Second Wachtung Mountain into Verona (with its pond and pedal boats) and then up over theFirst Wachtung Mountain to descend into lower middle class Bloomfield, which echoed the days of my young adult activism with the Peoples Party of New Jersey (aka Dr. Spock). The bus would eventually wind up in the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 41st Street in NYC.

Today, however, I threaded a different route. I would cross the George Washington Bridge into upper Manhattan, for a "gay talk group" in an apartment building around 96th St and Broadway on the Upper West Side. I didn't know very much yet about the two or three Greenwich Village (s), and I was yet to discover the Ninth Street Center, then in the East Village, and learn all about psychological surplus and psychological polarities. So would an important episode in my life begin, when I would move into the Cast Iron Building in NYC (shown) 19 months later in September 1974, right after Nixon's Watergate resignation and just before Gerry Ford's pardon. Those were the days, my friend, and I miss them. From 1974-1977 I would work as a "mainframe" computer programmer analyst on the general ledger system for NBC in the Rockefeller Center. All very convenient.

The talk group brought together six men, most of them middle aged and tightly bound up in winter sweaters, although there was me, balding at age 29, and a kid named Stuart, who actually tried to talk me into visiting the Everard Baths the following Tuesday night. I didn't go. Instead, I was to go on a "business trip" for my job with Sperry Univac, a short jaunt to Princeton, NJ, for training on Univac 1110 internals. (A computer that is no longer sold, although there are a few installations left.) During the talk group, I asked what kind of men they liked, and most of them surprised me (pleasntly) by saying "older."

This was my "Second Coming," as I document here in my first book, 34 years ago today, the same day of the week on the Perpetual Calendar. The following weekend, I would celebrate with a self-date, skiing at Killington, VT (only stopping briefly at my Espy Road garden apartment -- in those days I left the apartment alone a lot without a thought about security), the only place in the country where you could ski as a beginner "graduated length method" from the summit of a major (4000 ft) Northeastern peak. Only gradually would I assimilate into my new life.

These were the days of Middle Earth, long before AIDS, the don't ask don't tell policy, the gay marriage debate, and for that matter 9/11 and Gitmo. Those were indeed the days. Though they were circumscribed by the closet, le placard. The leader of the group, a bulimic guy named Eric, said that you had to be careful about what the doorman of your apartment building notices. But this was 1973.

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