Fat Ogga

My next-older brother John came home one day when he was 15 and I was 12 with an offer of a deal (more appropriately called a proposition) which was presented as a win-win situation.  He being the spiritual kin to Barney Fife, acted as though he was doing me a favor, initiating me into the big-boys’ world.  He asked me whether I’d learned yet to practice self-abuse, which he described to me.  I said it didn’t sound familiar, so he offered to tutor me.

He hung around a lot at Wheaton College (Billy Graham’s alma mater), and had made the acquaintance of the student manager of the basketball team, who was affectionately called Ogga.  It seemed to me that being a student manager was a dumb way to pass the time, because I didn’t understand where the payoff lay:  Ogga got to ogle the naked basketball players when he passed out the post-shower towels.  (I’m guessing.)  Ogling Ogga.

He had access to the stock of brand new gym shoes, and that was what was on offer.  John and I would each get a pair if the tutoring went well.  You probably can’t believe that I didn’t know what game was afoot, but it mystified me.  Anyhow, we soon had our new shoes, and I had a new problem.  Challenge.

Ogga’s shtick was that he would regularly come crunching down the gravel driveway around dusk in his yellow ’51 Ford convertible, stop half way, and toot his horn.  The image of his car that I recall is that of a prairie schooner sailing slowly, half visible above the  tall grass, weeds – whatever it was that grew in our yard unbidden but undeterred.  The beep was the signal to my mother that he was ready to counsel one of us (John later also recruited my younger brother for Ogga’s further delectation.)  As soon as we knew he was out there, we all scattered, which greatly annoyed my mother; but she’d soon find one of us and frog-march him out there for his counseling.

Ogga was a mess.  Short, podgy, hirsute, with thick glasses – and the shortest pecker I’ve ever seen (which was often, nevertheless, in evidence in that Ford car).  Eventually, I was the only one left for him, because John joined the Navy and Paul escaped to a reform school.  One thing – on Ogga’s days I didn’t have to resort to self-abuse, because Big O took care of it for me.

Years later, John told me a story about when he was in the Navy – hitch-hiking near San Diego, picked up by a “faggot,” whom he “cold-cocked.”  This was a transparent lie, intended to demonstrate to me that John was not “like that” himself.  To cold-cock anyone, though, he would have needed a stepstool.  (His Fife character sometimes bled over into Walter Mitty.)  From our gene pool smorgasbord, alas, John had got nothing but leftovers.

My most memorable interlude with Ogga was amidst the trash in the attic of the house we experimented with until we burned it down – or it burned itself down….  It was summer, and the heat was almost unbearable, but I think he wanted to go up there because he felt safest there.  His hairy butt in the air, he was imploring me to “think about girls” – which I tried to do!  After a while, though, it became clear that he’d be better off eating a popsicle.

While trying to pinpoint his unorthodox yearnings, I found a surprising gamut of “philias” to select among.  Fondness for corpses?  Necrophilia.  Old people?  Gerontophilia…  (There’s usually a contrasting phobia for each of these.)  Ogga’s niche was hebephilia (about pubescent kiddies).

Like most of the characters from the sordid saga that was my youth, Ogga is dead.  (In the interim, he married and had children, so.)  I recall him now as far more pathetic than sinister.  I have remaining to me only another tale of heroic survival.  But the truth is that I remember it as simply another unfortunate string of calamities that left me with no serious scars.  So no heroic myth again.  Damn.  Coming away almost unscathed, though, I asked myself for a little while whether I might be a sociopath!  But no.

Strung together, everything from that early life left me with an unquestionably unique perspective by the time I crossed into my twenties, although I was also burdened with shame, introversion and shyness – and resultant naïveté – and it was too late to essentially change.  I was not nearly so precocious in understanding that.  But watchful, acutely observant I was for the duration, yes – so far, anyhow.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *