In my college days, living at home at 222, I made friends of all kinds. I did, in my freshman year, pledge a fraternity. A friend with whom I had attended Jr. High and Stuyvesant also entered The City College of New York (CCNY), commonly referred to as City, with me. We’re still friends after 58 years.
We pretty much stuck together when we got to City in the Fall of 1966 and we were both asked to pledge after going to several rush parties.
I didn’t make it through pledging. No, I was not blackballed; I quit. I did learn the Greek alphabet as required and remembered at all times that the last letter of said alphabet was “sir”, but for me pledging was pretty much a nightmare and I left. At times I joined the guys but I was not a regular and don’t recall ever going to the fraternity house on Hamilton Terrace after departing my pledge class.
I turned to other pursuits and relationships.
One of the friendships that was borne of the fraternity relationships was a young woman who did not live far from me. There were gatherings we attended with our mutual friends and acquaintances and I know I found her attractive but I was not one to compete. So, like with almost all the other young women in my life, friendship was the natural relationship.
I’m not sure in what year the rape occurred but after she called the police and was taken to the 20th precinct to look at pictures, she called me. Our relationship was not special except perhaps I was one of the few guys on the planet who had not hit on her and I was nearby and was becoming an auxiliary police officer.
After the mug shot books were exhausted we were taken back to her place which was in fact the scene of the sexual assault. I don’t know what possessed me to agree to sleep next to her when she had a large kitchen knife under her pillow, but I did. I don’t think I was smart enough to be scared, I was there to make a friend feel safer.
I knew nothing about rape or assault back then. I knew nothing about how I was supposed to act. Today I am filled with the material so widely available and I believe that it was the right thing at the right time and I look back with positive thoughts about my behavior. Friendship and the caring that comes with that were my job that night.
I saw her many years later and, no surprise, that night was not mentioned. The warmth between us had not cooled. That is another friendship that lasted a long time.