I Remember High School (after Joe Brainard)

I remember getting on the school bus before  7 am.

I remember it was an old man who picked us up, hell maybe sixty-one years old!

I remember reading Richard Lattimore’s translation of the Iliad on the bus, first quarter freshman year Trinity high School.

I remember being intrigued by the fact that girls from Sacred  Heart Academy were picked up just as I was to go to our schools.

I remember one was named Lisa Fassbender; by paying attention I gathered she was a sophomore, a universe away from me.

I remember looking her up on Facebook 40 years later on Facebook.

I remember she always sat with a friend who was shorter and blond whose name I forget now which  negates my absolute conviction in fall  1974 I’d never forget her name nor face.

I remember the girls wore penny loafers along with their white shirts and navy skirts.

I remember  I was on the football team.

I remember I was considered “first string” in the first two weeks of practice because we trained without pads, and I was strong and fast.

I remember I was demoted quickly to third string  once we put on pads and began hitting; I didn’t have that killer instruct.

I remember the Box Drill.

I remember the whole team was lined up single file 30 yards from the Box.

I remember each player had to defend the Box from an on-rushing teammate who aim was to knock you down.

I remember as soon as the defender of the Box knocked away one player, another was bearing down on you to crush you.

I remember there were three grades given to how players defended (or not) the Box.

I remember the ones who were judged by the coaches as “men” were the most ferocious, even if they got knocked around a little because they were smaller.  

I remember “boys”  were those who got knocked around a little too much.

I remember “girls” were those who got knocked down, especially if they were big and bulky.

I remember I was a “boy.”

I remember we practiced in a lot adjacent to a Sears and Roebuck store which was always busy around 5 pm.

I remember all the “girls” had to go stand by the entrance and exit of the store.

I remember “the  girls” hold to hold each others’ hands for a good twenty minutes.

I remember being uneasily  happy I was a “boy.”

I remember I survived the season and barely played.

I remember I didn’t have the nerve to quit the team (what I loved was basketball).

I remember the disappointment  and contempt on a young  coach’s  face  for me being such “a pussy.”

I remember being mystified by one of the coaches when on a Friday after practice he joked with  some of the older players to remember to use a sock over the weekend.

I remember friends from grade school were at the same high school, which was a relief.

I remember the senior football players were gods.

I remember not ever wanting to incur their wrath.

I remember hoping my cousin Steve (who was a senior) would someone look out for me.

I remember riding the bus the third quarter and reading Moby Dick early in the morning.

I remember Father John Butler made us memorize Shakespeare.

I remember Macbeth in Act Five: “She should have died hereafter…”

I remember I enjoyed poets in Father John’s class, like Edward Arlington Robinson.

I remember having freshman Latin with Father Joseph Hemmerle: “agricola, agricolae”.

I remember being surprised I was ranked 10th in my freshman year class out of 350 students.

I remember hearing Bohemian Rhapsody on the radio day after day on the afternoon bus-ride home. 

I remember I liked Queen the way I liked the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s “A Day in the Life”’s ability to put me in a trance.

I remember I bought my first Bob Dylan album when I was 14—Another Side of Bob Dylan.

I remember it irked my mother to hear his  cranky voice.

I remember  I had the Sacred Heart girls in mind when I wrote some poems inspired by Dylan’s lyrics “All I really wanna do/Is  baby be friends with you” and “Ramona,  come closer shut softly  your weary eyes …”

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