When I close my eyes and think of Susan, it is thirty-five years ago and she is coming out of Peter Collier’s office at Ramparts, the radical magazine where we all work. The Ramparts suite is located near Fisherman’s Wharf in the
San Francisco marina, and the room we are standing in is drenched in the salt light reflecting off the Bay. Peter and Susan are engaged in an animated discussion about the article she is writing, which is itself a reflection of the radical adventures in which we are all involved and which engage our innocence and our yet unbroken dreams of worlds to come. It is Peter who has thought up the title of the article, “The Politics of The Orgasm,” and when it appears in the next issue of the magazine, it will provide the writer with her fifteen minutes of progressive fame. Black-eyed and raven-haired, Susan is handsome enough at twenty-seven to spark a mischievous banter among the office men. This gossip subsides whenever she arrives (as she often does) with her infant daughter Shuna astride her hip, which seems to transform the mother into a sibling the males suddenly want to protect. A family man diffident in such matters, I remain an outsider to the sexual chatter. Susan is married, too, but the fact does not seem to inhibit her flirtatious energy. Her husband, a Harvard graduate (Susan is a Vassar alumna) is a writer of some literary note among us. Michael Lydon has been a former staff reporter for Newsweek, credentials especially impressive to rebels like us in the cultural underground. Of the two, Susan’s is the more artistic temperament, which makes her husband’s cachet with the editors a recurring trial when they pass over her (as they often do) to assign him stories about music she regards as a beat that is more properly hers.
February 9, 2005
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