by Joe Brainard
I remember when polio was the worst thing in the world.
I remember pink dress shirts. And bola ties.
I remember when a kid told me that those sour clover-like leaves we used to eat (with little yellow flowers) tasted so sour because dogs peed on them. I remember that didn’t stop me from eating them.
I remember the first drawing I remember doing. It was of a bride with a very long train.
I remember my first cigarette. It was a Kent. Up on a hill. In Tulsa, Oklahoma. With Ron Padgett.
I remember the only time I ever saw my mother cry. I was eating apricot pie.
I remember when my father would say "Keep your hands out from under the covers" as he said goodnight. But he said it in a nice way.
I remember when I thought that if you did anything bad, policemen would put you in jail.
I remember a girl in school one day who, just out of the blue, went into a long spiel all about how difficult it was to wash her brother’s pants because he didn’t wear underwear.
I remember the first time I met Frank O’Hara. He was walking down Second Avenue. It was a cool early Spring evening but he was wearing only a white shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. And blue jeans. And moccasins. I remember that he seemed very sissy to me. Very theatrical. Decadent. I remember that I liked him instantly.
I remember liver.
I remember the chair I used to put my boogers behind.
I remember my parents’ bridge teacher. She was very fat and very butch (cropped hair) and she was a chain smoker. She prided herself on the fact that she didn’t have to carry matches around. She lit each new cigarette from the old one. She lived in a little house behind a restaurant and lived to be very old.
I remember Dorothy Collins.
I remember Dorothy Collins’ teeth.
I remember planning to tear page 48 out of every book I read from the Boston Public Library, but soon losing interest.
I remember my grade school art teacher, Mrs. Chick, who got so mad at a boy one day she dumped a bucket of water over his head.
I remember one very hot summer day I put ice cubes in my aquarium and all the fish died.
I remember once having to take a pee sample to the doctor and how yellow and warm it was in a jar.
I remember after people are gone thinking of things I should have said but didn’t.