Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Ninth Grade Geography. The teacher seated us alphabetically. My last name started with an M and I ended up at the back of the middle row. Seated to my left, toward the windows, was Robert Osband, aka Ozzie. Ozzie was the original nerd. He was most likely ADHD, but what did we know back then. He was the class clown and ate up the attention. Much to my chagrin, Ozzie had a mad crush on me. This fact made me absolutely miserable. Why me? He spent the entire 44 minutes of class staring at me. To make matters worse, he was so unattractive with the biggest Jew nose on earth.
During this time, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was a big hit on TV. Everyone watched it. Ozzie started acting out one of the characters on the show. He always wore a trench coat and ‘rubbers.’ By rubbers, I mean black things that you put over your shoes to keep your feet dry in the rain. He was chronically late for class, so he needed to run through the halls to have a chance at arriving on time. This was challenging since he had a bit going with his locker. He had us believing that he had a phone in his locker. And I think there was a phone in his shoe as well, a la UNCLE. When asked about the rubbers after high school, he attributed it to him being late for class and not having had time to remove them once he got to school. He also let us know that it helped him round the corners in record time.
Ozzie was a radio geek. He worked on the high school radio station. This had its advantages. Here’s where being Ozzie’s love object had its benefits. It was 1968, Rochester, NY. The Doors were coming to town and were going to perform at the Eastman Theater. This is a relatively small venue compared to the size of concert venues today. Ozzie knew I loved The Doors and had purchased tickets along with my partner in crime, Janet. Ozzie let us know that he could get us backstage to meet Jim. He told us where and when to meet him. He showed up in his trench coat at the stage door and we waited outside while he went in. He walked right up to Jim Morrison and told him he was with the local radio station and could he ask him a few questions. Jim agreed. He then said the two of his biggest fans were at the stage door and would he meet them. He agreed. Ozzie then delivered us directly to Jim where I stood and looked him directly in the eyes. Very dark blue eyes. He was friendly. I remember that we sat center balcony and it was an excellent concert. It’s only now all these years later that I realize how outrageous the whole affair was. I had taken it in stride until I started relaying the story to folks 30 years younger than I am and it blew their minds.
After high school I went to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. Ozzie stayed in Rochester and landed a job as an errand boy at the newly erected Xerox Tower. Back then they had Watts lines. They were the early version of 800#s. On occasion, Ozzie would call me at my dorm from the Xerox Watts line. Little did I know at the time that he had set up an office for himself on a top floor that had yet to be built out. He was eventually found out and fired on the spot.
After my freshman year in college, I returned home for the summer. I have no idea how but somehow, I allowed Ozzie to come over to the house. When he got to the door I told him I really wanted some ice cream. He asked what flavor. I said Neapolitan. He darted back out to his car and in no time had returned with a half gallon. I felt so guilty that I had such power over this poor guy.
Ozzie was also a Star Trek nut. In 1972 right after I had just met my husband, Ozzie hitchhiked out to LA to attend a Star Trek convention. It was held at a large hotel right next to LAX. I had just purchased my first car, a 1967 VW camper van. He contacted me and asked me if I’d come up to the show and meet him. I drove from Beverly and Vine to LAX, which was the furthest I had ever driven in my new car. The trek included a drive on the ‘fast’ part of La Cienega. I think I went 50 MPH which was frightening.
When I arrived at the hotel, he greeted me with a tape cassette recorder strapped over his shoulder with a microphone attached. Of course he wore one of the first digital watches. He informed me that his watch alarm would go off every 20 minutes and he would be stopping to record what was going on at the conference at that time. I took it all in stride. I don’t remember anything remarkable about the show. It was nothing like Trekkie conventions of today, with wild costumes. Ozzie told me he had brought me a present and that it was up in his room. Would I come up and get it? Sure, up I went. Since he repulsed me, I saw no harm in this. The next thing I know I’m sitting on the bed and he’s putting moves on me. My feminine guiles took over and I launched into a crying jag where I told him that seeing him had made me so homesick and that I wanted to get married! I didn’t mean marry HIM, just get married. Honestly, I have NO idea where this notion came from. Oh that put ice water on his moves. He quickly let me know that he was in no position to get married. I didn’t shatter his dream and let him know that I’d die an old maid than marry him. Next thing you know I’m speeding back along La Cienega, back to my apartment.
Three years after that I was married. As my husband and I moved from apartment to house, Ozzie kept track of my moves via the Post Office. I ignored him. I would say 25 years later or so, my brother sent me an email. In it he had a link to a site and asked me if this link was to Ozzie’s blog. OMG, yes it was. Ozzie had moved to Florida and at the ripe age of 50, he was retired from the phone company. He lived near Cape Canaveral. Besides being a Trekkie, he was a space nut as well. On the website was a photo of him in an astronaut suit. His hair was now white and he had a full white beard and moustache. The blog was one long streaming entry after another. The one thing to glean from it was his 15 minutes of fame. Ozzie had petitioned for a new area code for the Cape Canaveral region. It was a lengthy ordeal and he was successful. Today, the Area Code for Cape Canaveral is
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As social networking and search engines became more prevalent, lo and behold I did get a direct email from Ozzie. He was a gentleman and invited me to look him up if I was ever in Florida. I wrote back with some details on my life and there you have it. Since my Dad was a PhD physicist and a genuine nerd as well, I must have that kind of magnetism for nerds. It’s just part of my DNA. I now also realize that these fellows are in the Aspergers spectrum. I can spot them a mile away. Interesting guys but socially, one peanut shell short of a nut.