Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Freewheelin' In The Bronx 1971 (xviii)

It was on another beautiful Spring afternoon in early May 1971 that, by chance, I bumped into Eileen again, while walking up the hill on Bedford Park Blvd., towards the Grand Concourse.

To enjoy the fresh Spring air earlier in the day, I had again gone on the 20 to 30 minutes walk from my apartment to Lehman College’s campus, via Fordham Road and Jerome Avenue. And I was on my way back home when Eileen suddenly appeared in front of me on the street. She had just exited from the nearby subway station and was walking with another Lehman College woman student, who was in one of her classes, when we suddenly noticed each other.

Eileen’s classmate continued walking in order to be on time for her next afternoon class. But since Eileen had only been planning to go to the Lehman College library that afternoon to work on one of her term papers, and had not been planning to attend any scheduled class, she stopped and we began to chat with each other again. And, after a few minutes of talking with me, I asked her if she’d mind if I’d walk with her to the Lehman College campus, and she said it was O.K.. I then turned around and we then began walking together down the hill and onto the Lehman College campus.

Eileen was apparently still feeling that something was lacking intellectually, and from a feminist point of view, in her traditional relationship with Vinnie, the guy she was still living with. And, like me, she apparently also felt spring fever from the beautiful Spring afternoon in May.

So by the time we arrived on the Lehman College campus, Eileen was more into hanging out with me outside on the campus lawn in front of the library and the classroom buildings than into spending the beautiful day inside the library working on a term paper. And after sitting close to each other on the lawn for awhile while conversing in the same kind of intense way we had talked with each other when we had first met in the Lehman College cafeteria a few weeks before, we both realized that we were starting to feel some mutual love vibes.

So after she started touching me on my back and shoulder in a fond way with her hands, I was soon lying stretched out on my back on the campus lawn with my head resting in her lap, as she stroked my long hair in an affectionate way. A John Lennon fan who passed Eileen and me by at that time would probably have been reminded of the album cover of a then-recently-released John Lennon vinyl album, in which the album cover was a photograph of Lennon and Yoko Ono sitting under a tree together, and on which Lennon had recorded his classic “Working-Class Hero” protest folk song.

My next memory is then walking with Eileen from Lehman College’s campus later in the afternoon south on Jerome Avenue, until we got to a Jahn’s Restaurant, where we each ate an ice cream sundae, while continuing our intense conversation, oblivious to everyone else around us in the restaurant. Despite the fact that it was now getting late in the afternoon and Eileen was expected to be home by the evening in order to cook dinner for Vinnie, Eileen, surprisingly, expressed an interest in checking out my apartment, after we had finished eating our ice cream sundaes at Jahn’s Restaurant. So we then started walking east on Fordham Road until we arrived inside my apartment.

Although the only furniture inside my 1 ½ room apartment were two mattresses on the floor, a small table and a few boxes, Eileen seemed impressed by the fact that the rent for my then rent-controlled hippie pad was still less than $60 per month in the Spring of 1971. And after checking out the lay-out of the pad, Eileen sat down next to me on one of the mattresses that was on the floor of my living room-bedroom.

A few minutes later, she suddenly started to kiss me for a few minutes in a passionate way; and we both realized that we could also be attracted to each other on a sexual level , if we let ourselves go—and if she weren’t still involved with Vinnie. But since she had to get home that evening to make dinner for Vinnie and we were both reluctant to get any closer to each other on a physical level as long as she was living with Vinnie, we soon started to pull away from each other.

Eileen then stood up and said quietly: “I have to go now, but can I have your phone number--so I can sometimes call you?”

“Sure,” I replied, as I stood up myself. Then I grabbed a pen and a piece of paper and wrote down my first name and phone number on the piece of paper. And a few minutes later, we left my apartment and started walking together towards a bus stop on Fordham Road, where Eileen could catch a bus to drop her off at the Fordham Road D train subway stop, where she could then catch the subway train that would take her back home.

After we arrived at the Fordham Road bus stop, we did not have to wait very long before Eileen’s bus to the D train arrived, since it was still rush hour on a weekday. And I then waved goodbye to Eileen, as she got on the crowded bus.

Since Eileen was already living with Vinnie—and, from the way Eileen had described him, I did not get the sense that he was the type of guy who wouldn’t get uptight if a guy he didn’t know telephoned the woman he lived with at their home—I did not bother to ask for Eileen’s telephone number. And I was doubtful that Eileen would actually ever telephone me when, after a few days, she realized that telephoning me when Vinnie wasn’t around might start to eventually complicate her already apparently shaky relationship with a guy like Vinnie. But after Eileen got on the bus and I returned to my apartment, I did write a love song for Eileen, titled “Ms. Eileen,” which contained the lyric “And I hope that you’ll kiss me, Ms. Eileen,” which described Eileen’s inner beauty and why I felt attracted to her, from a male feminist point of view.

Surprisingly, a few weeks later I did receive a telephone call from Eileen. But, by that time, the money I had saved from the Writers Guild office boy job that I had quit nearly two months before had nearly vanished. And I now only had enough bread left to pay my rent for June 1971, barely enough left to feed myself and my kitten until June 1971. Also, I had been forced to shave my beard off and get a haircut again, in order to start hunting for a 9-to-5 job again.

So when Eileen telephoned me, I was now in a much more visibly embittered and angry mood than I had been when I had last seen her on the beautiful Spring afternoon and Eileen—not yet being as politically revolutionary in her feelings as I was, despite her developing radical feminist perspective—did not really yet feel the working-class anger I felt at being forced to choose between either 9-to-5 wage slavery again or—if I couldn’t find a job or couldn’t become eligible for the home relief for single individuals that the New York City welfare department still officially provided in 1971—death by economic impoverishment or starvation.

But, ironically, after our philosophical and political differences suddenly became apparent to each other during our phone conversation, Eileen suddenly laughed and said: “You know, before I called you I was thinking I might want to move in with you. But now I see it would never work out.”

I also laughed and replied: “Yeah. Don’t think I’d be able to offer you much in the way of companionship until I get my bread situation together again, so that I can keep coming up with the rent money each month.” And a few seconds later, we said goodbye to each other over the telephone.

I felt somewhat surprised that Eileen’s emotional dissatisfaction with Vinnie had apparently increased so much that the possibility of moving into my slum apartment with me so soon was actually something she had even considered. But given my immediate money and economic survival worries at the time she telephoned, I realized that living with Vinnie—especially since he apparently wasn’t the kind of guy who would ever beat her—was still probably a much wiser thing for Eileen to do than leaving Vinnie and then finding herself now sharing my economic misery with me on a daily level, by moving in with me.