Dudley Hogarth was always called just that, Dudley Hogarth. No one ever just called him Dudley, or Mr. Hogarth or maybe Dud for short. (Although it might have been fitting). He was always Dudley Hogarth plain and simple.
In our culture often men will go to the leader of the group and suggest that perhaps a certain girl should be his wife. When this happens we always say that he “asked for her”. There was usually a fair amount of speculation as to who was asking for who. One thing there was not any speculation about however was whether or not Dudley Hogarth had asked for you. He had. He asked for everyone. I swear he keeps a calendar where he meticulously keeps track of all female births and as soon as a girl turns 15 he makes an appointment to go explain how he has received a revelation that she belongs to him.
Dudley Hogarth asked for me. He asked for each one of my 24 sisters. He asked for all of my friends. He even asked for my mom back in the day. And I’m quite sure he is well aware of my 14-year-old niece’s upcoming birthday.
Most children play “the last one in is a rotten egg” My sisters and I played “the last one in has to marry Dudley Hogarth.” I remember one of my sisters decided to switch it up one day and she said “the first one in has to marry Dudley Hogarth. It threatened to be a long afternoon as all of us refused to move. We finally realized that game was going to be pointless.
Dudley Hogarth was short and fat. He was mostly bald but he liked to let the few strands of hair that he did have on the top of his head grow out kind of long. I guess he thought that would make up for all that was missing. It would kind of swirl around on his sweaty head in a greasy mess and sometimes would flop over when he would turn around in his chair to stare at you. Which he did. Often. For as long as I can remember Dudley Hogarth sat on the front row at church and used his vantage point to turn and stare at the girls.
He had a fat shiny face and eyes that kind of bugged out a bit. Dudley Hogarth had a mental disorder and probably should have garnered a bit of sympathy. But we women left it up to the men to provide it. He didn’t need any encouragement from us. In fact we avoided him at all costs. If he did ever catch you unawares he would sidle up to you stick out his sweaty hand and grin at you with his yellow gap toothed smile, while he waited for you to shake his hand.
One day when my dad was building our new house I was in one of the room working when I heard Dudley Hogarth’s unmistakable whiny voice coming down the hallway. Desperate to not find myself in a position where I would have to see him and shake his hand I looked around frantic for an escape route. There wasn’t one. His voice was getting closer and finally I lunged for the closet and pulled the door closed behind me. Surely I would be safe there until he left.
I stood quietly peeking through the tiny slit between the two doors. I could see him showing someone around the room. Just when it looked like they were about to leave Dudley Hogarth said, “now look at this closet,” I could see him getting closer and closer through the slit and all I could think was that I was going to find myself backed into a closet with nowhere to run and face to face with Dudley Hogarth! Besides how would I ever explain what I was doing in there.
It seems to providential to be real even now. These kinds of things only happen on TV. But just as Dudley Hogarth was reaching out to open the door, my dad called from the other room and I was spared the confrontation. But I learned a lesson that day. One I won’t forget anytime soon.
Moral of the Story: When you are hiding from a creepy guy…don’t hide in a closet.