My name is Lawrence H. Olson, Jr., and I have lived most of my 75 years in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. And boy, do I have a story for you.
I’m giving you the first crack at my tell-all memoir, which I’ve tentatively titled: “My Name is Lawrence: Pig-Pen Comes Clean.”
It’s the story of one man’s life of tears and anguish, obscured by a drawn-on smile and a perennial cloud of dirt.
But it’s also a larger cautionary tale of the cruelty of early Baby Boomers growing up in the seemingly idyllic Midwest following the deadliest conflict in human history.
After decades of therapy, 12-step programs and literally hitting rock bottom in a junkyard ditch, I’ve come to grips with my ablutophobia—the fear of bathing. I now believe it stemmed from stories my father shared of bearing witness to a mushroom cloud blast while serving in the Pacific.
Was I channeling, in my dusty visage, my father’s haunting experience as well as my own generation’s fear of nuclear annihilation? Perhaps.
In any event, I spent my childhood enmeshed in a Cold War of my own that left me a walking pariah and punchline.
Looking back, I can now see how I became a convenient scapegoat for a band of dysfunctional children who took on the mantle and pressures of adulthood too soon.
Still, was I any less hygienic than the round-headed boy who wore the same shirt every day?
Than the child who sucked his thumb and clung to a soiled blanket for dear life?
Than the family that treated a dog as if it were human, giving it a place at the Thanksgiving folding table?
My story is far more than just about me. I plan to name names and leave no detail untold.
I’ll just say it: Linus was a pious hypocrite, shunning and mocking me even as he toted his “security” blanket and quoted Scripture. Could it be because when he looked at me, he saw a dirtier version of himself? I believe the resemblance is far more than coincidence.
Not only did Linus ostracize me, but he’s long rebuffed my pleas for a DNA test. So has his sister, Lucy, who tried for years to pass herself off as a mental health professional, charging far more than a nickel.
My relationship with Charlie is far more complicated.
I harbored resentment for decades, believing he appreciated my presence because I made him look “normal” by comparison.
I now recognize him as a fellow depressive. The signs were always there. What other child in our white-bred world would be brave enough to admit during the Christmas season: “I know I should be happy. But I'm not.”
The question of “What is happiness?” plagued me as I festered in filth and self-hate for much of my life.
But with the help of my wife, Frieda, (still sporting her naturally curly hair, albeit now gray) and some lifelong friends similarly shunted to the sidelines (Franklin, Peppermint Patty, and Marcie), I, well, cleaned up my act.
I became, of all things, a plumber.
As for Charlie, he was never the same after that beagle died when he was in high school. And, as well documented, the redhead left him bankrupt in the divorce.
I’ll tell the story of my rapprochement with Charlie in middle age, via heartfelt conversations along the old brick wall. In his final days, he confided to me battles with his inner demons, which played out as he stared for hours on end at the kite hanging from that unforgiving tree.
Give me the child at seven and I’ll show you the adult, indeed…
That’s just a taste—I have far more to tell. I’m not looking to get rich. But I’m no fool: I don’t work for peanuts, I make Peanuts work for me (gotta have a sense of humor, you know).
It’s up to you, dear publisher: Say the word and I’ll deliver my story. Is the world ready to hear it?
Lawrence H. Olson, Jr.