Page two of the Manifesto is a sketch of Ferguson. At least I think it is of him. He definitely had a better haircut than the one in the yearbook. The wide grin is a dead giveaway, but he drew it bigger than the real one. It seems that he thought of himself as a guy with a great smile and perfect hair; but he was clearly mistaken.
The hairstyles in the 80’s were funny. The guys looked like they were creating sculptures on their heads. The girls also did with some kind of ‘gravity defying’ way of making their hair look like a helmet. Ferguson had shoulder length hair; like a rock star. So now I’m curious, because this book is too bizarre not to look at. Why hadn’t my dad shown this to me a long time ago? I open to page three, it had a quote on the top of the page.
“When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
Under that it just says, ‘Spock – Starship Enterprise’. I don’t know how old he was when he wrote this, but it seems fairly advanced for some screwy kid. Down to the middle of the page is another quote.
“The first thing you have to do to survive in this big wide wonderful world is to accept the fact that everything and everybody around you is part of a multi-dimensional universe.”
Again, I don’t know what it all means. But I am going along with it.
The fourth page was more of the same mumbo-jumbo, but there was one sentence that caught my eye. It is a quote attributed to somebody named Joseph Campbell. It reads:
“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”
I am on board with this Joseph Campbell guy. However, the maddening thing about this comment is how do you know when you are going in the right direction? I read on and get hit by another brainy quote from big head Ferguson.
“Create your own trail and fill your life with action. Don’t wait for things to happen. Letting life happen puts you in fates path. Make it happen. Make your own hope and circumstances. Create your own journey. Make your own love and joy. Be someone that can be loved. Live in the moment and for the future. Take risks, be humble and courageous. Whatever your beliefs, honor your higher power, not waiting around and praying for grace to flow- down from above. Make your own grace happen for yourself, right here, right now.”
There is no way old Ferguson came up with that one. But I don’t care if he copied it off of the toilet stall, I like it. As I flip through the book, each page is filled with his thoughts, definitions, drawings and notes. It is like an instruction book on how to re-invent yourself. I don’t know how much of the book is his own thoughts, but it doesn’t matter. This book looks like good reading because it is almost thirty-years old and I get to see what a kid my age thought about at that time. Was he messed up like me? Did he invite trouble or was he a cool kid?
I confront my dad, even though he tries to hide in the garage. He is reluctant to even talk to me because he would rather work on a grinder machine. When he starts machining, it’s impossible to talk over that damn thing. He knows that. He also sees that I am not leaving, so he turns it off and tells me to ask away.
I place the book on the workbench.
“Dad, what’s with this book? How come you didn’t show this to me earlier?”
He puts his reading glasses on and looks at the book. He smirks as he opens it up. He flips through a few pages; then through all of them in within a couple of seconds, never really looking at anything. He looks at me.
“Good read, entertain yourself. He gave this to me after we graduated. Then he went away to college and I haven’t heard from him in a long time.”
“So, you just gave me the same name because you liked the name, or because he was special?”
“Well, technically your name is Fergus, not Ferguson. These are two different names.”
“Come on dad, give me something more than that. All of the names in the world, and you come up with one that is almost the same as your best friend. Why were you guy’s friends?” I ask with my voice growing louder and more demanding. I wasn’t going to let my dad off of the hook that easily.
I run back to the house and grab my dad’s yearbooks that he stores in the living room bookcase. I get back quickly. There he is, grinding away on some metal part that he really gives full attention to. He turns around and looks at me with disappointment. This is the last thing he wants to talk about, but I stand there and wait for him to finish. He gets it, and finally turns the noisy thing off.
He just starts talking without my questions slowing him down. He tells me he didn’t know Ferguson until his junior year. They met in gym class, where Ferguson had a problem with the teacher. He wasn’t a very good athlete, but always found ways to have fun in class. He wouldn’t ever follow the rules or social mores of class. He would do calisthenics out of rhythm with the other boys. My dad recalls Ferguson running slowly on purpose so that the rest of the class had to wait a long time for him. Sometimes he fell down and pretended he was unconscious. The teacher would get so mad at him, but Ferguson was never a smart ass back. Instead, he would apologize for messing up and promise to do better next time. Then he just continued to do things his own way. He always created more excitement than anybody else in school, so my dad wanted to join him for the ride.
The two soon became friends. My dad liked him because he never knew anybody like him before. He was smart and fearless, and my dad thought he was the funniest guy on the planet. Ferguson was probably not considered the best-looking guy, but that never stopped him from talking with girls. Ferguson and my dad had a group of friends that included some girls. Ferguson called up everybody on the phone, (old ones with a cord and spinning dial) and they would go on big group dates that involved roller skating, shooting pool or bowling. The parents would haul kids around until they had cars of their own. When they eventually got cars they went to the beach or on ski trips. I had no idea my dad even knew how to ski. He has never taken us kids skiing.
Ferguson would be involved in so many clubs and activities that he became popular by being involved. He did challenge a lot of people’s nerves; especially the jealous guys. He was very flirtatious with the ladies. He had charisma, and never had only one girlfriend at a time. My dad said that every kid should have a buddy like Ferguson; a friend that did crazy things but was never mean or a delinquent. Ferguson would say it took no skill to be a jerk; anybody can be a jerk. But to be a better person took work and imagination. My dad and Ferguson would pull pranks together. But it was more to amuse themselves, not to break or steal stuff.
One time they posted big signs around campus that said there was “no school tomorrow due to maintenance and rodent abatement.” A lot of kids actually believed it and didn’t show up the next day. The two didn’t get caught for that one but did get busted for putting baloney slices all over the teacher’s car windows. Those were some of the pranks they pulled, which seem harmless. My dad was quick to mention that he couldn’t tell me everything because he doesn't want to give me any bad ideas. I know my dad didn’t say much about my stunts from last year, but I know that he wasn’t too pleased.
My dad said the book was made up of Ferguson’s high school thoughts. He also said that I should take a look and see if I get anything out of it. Some of it is probably dated because it’s over thirty-years-old. He said that book was Ferguson’s way of keeping his life on track. He had a lot of problems in his life when he was younger, but somehow, he changed it all around.
We open the book together. There are pages written on various topics, like how to talk to people - from girls to the elderly. He wrote his thoughts on how to deal with bullies. For example:
“Bullies use their size, and fear to get what they want. They align themselves with others who think like them. They become a group that wants others to know that they are around and that they are prepared to enforce their will.”
Honestly, I don’t know how a kid figured out all of these things, so I asked my dad about that. He said that Ferguson’s whole family were smart. His dad was some sort of important guy at a big company that made military artillery and top-secret things.
He goes on to explain how their house was full of books and stacks of paper everywhere. They had these big paintings on their walls of ancient times; like men on horses and boats. My dad speculated that someone in the family painted them.
Ferguson was always looking for new ways to be entertained, so when he decided to do something that could be interesting, he was all in. It seemed like he had fireworks and bottle rockets year-round. My dad would go to his house and create explosions with all kinds of items in the backyard. This was just the tip of the iceberg according to my father. They made a bazooka that shot balls and anything else that fit in the tube. When other kids were shooting bb and pellet guns, the two of them were firing projectiles around the neighborhood. They never got bored because they would find crazy things to do.
They liked to go around with a tape recorder and interview anybody that would give in. Ferguson would ask people a bunch of questions and record them and file it away. He had boxes of tapes they made of which my dad would love to go back and listen too. In those days, you could do prank calls without anybody tracing you. Those too were recorded. I don’t know why they would do this. Probably thought they were reporters.
I asked my dad if he kept in touch with him, he said he hadn’t seen him in ten years. The last time he saw Ferguson was when he was in town briefly for his dad’s funeral. Ferguson doesn’t live around here anymore. My dad lost touch with him. He went away to college back east and ended up staying there. He remembers him telling my dad he was finally traveling like he had always dreamed of.
It’s very clear that my dad does not want to talk about this subject anymore. It’s the most he has talked to me or anyone else in the past couple years. I don’t know if it is (or was) my dad’s dream for me to be like Ferguson Bogen. I wish my dad had him around in his life because he could use some cheering up. Maybe I could find Ferguson and ask him to come by some time. He sounds like an interesting guy; to say the least.
Meanwhile, I just have Ferguson’s book and my dad’s sketchy memory along with an old yearbook to figure what this guy was all about.