Wednesday, October 10, 1990

Dear Diary

The New York Times
originally published October 10, 1990

Dear Diary:

Recently I joined the growing numbers of New York crime victims. I was reading a book on the R Train on a Thursday night about 8, when two men approached me and demanded my ring.

Since the ring belonged to my grandfather, I did what we are told not to do in these cases: I refused and then fought back. When one of the men pulled a knife, I managed to keep my book between the knife and me, which probably saved me from serious injury. My attackers left empty-handed.

For a few days I wore my bruises and black eye like badges of valor. Buoyed by my foolish heroics, I dashed off a letter to Armistead Maupin, the author of the book I used for protection. (The knife marks are there to prove it.) I told him how much I enjoyed his ''Tales of the City'' series and about my attack. I went on about how glad I was that I had purchased the sixth book of the series in hardcover and that although I was looking forward to his next book, I hoped I would not have to use it in self-defense.

In his reply, he said that he would never again scoff at ''those bullet-in-the-Bible stories'' and that his next book would indeed be a hardcover.

Perhaps this is a novel solution to the problem of subway crime. CHUCK WENTZEL