As always thanks Thom for the 3WW words
late summer, 1970–Park Avenue South, NY NY
My job was tedious. I checked ads in all major East Coast newspapers but the New York Times for accuracy. The regular employees were laid off for the summer, and college students hired. Boys were paid $80 a week and girls $75. I didn’t consider myself a feminist but I thought that absurd and asked the owner why there was a disparity. He looked at me as if I were stupid:
Boys need the extra money to take girls out.
I had a boyfriend. I don’t think we had been on one real date in the almost two years we had been seeing each other on and off.
Everybody else would grimace when doing the work. Except for the pay disparity, and the bells that went off to signify beginning and ends of breaks, lunch and the workday, I loved it. Essentially I was paid to read newspapers. The Manchester Union Leader, Manchester, New Hampshire was my favorite. A typical headline read “Hippie boy spotted walking through town.” Sub headline, “hippies not wanted here.” The newspaper loved President Nixon and the war in Viet Nam. People in New York who were pro war weren’t this uncouth. Well the only person I knew well who was pro war was my father. Being the father of two daughters and a former Communist turned capitalist he was classier, at least in public.
In private, my father spent a lot of time grimacing and yelling. He called my friends and I freaks. I was proud that he knew the word though later I realized he didn’t mean it in the way we used it. He couldn’t wait for this phase of my life to be over.
I had friends at work and friends from college. Officially I was living at my parents house on Long Island. Unofficially I was living on many couches in the city and some on the Island where I went to school. After work we would walk down to the East Village where everybody seemed to live in tenements that smelled of Lysol, cat pee and cabbage soup. Every apartment looked the same with mattresses on the floor covered by Indian print bedspreads and a bean bag chair or tables and chairs found on the street.
After an evening spent smoking joints and drinking cheap wine we would stumble into some apartment. The wine made me sick so I stuck to joints. It helped me sleep in strange beds and use bathrooms that weren’t always clean.
I wanted my boyfriend but he wasn’t in New York for the summer. I settled for whoever was closest.