‘It was a find, a treasure, twenty bucks for a flight jacket in a narrow, basement shop on 77th St in 1978′
Ingrate. My daughter the beautiful ingrate. It was supposed to have gone with her to college, to Boston. That was the plan, and she left it in her closet. Look here, my flight jacket, with the green ticket stub from the dry cleaner safety-pinned to one of the knit cuffs, which are brown and stretchy and ribbed, as is the waistband; guess I didn’t know any better when I was twenty-one, didn’t know I only wanted leather, all leather, nothing stretchy, nothing smacking of counterfeit. It was a find, a treasure, twenty bucks for a flight jacket in a narrow, basement shop on 77th St in 1978. Now—now I’d sniff—now I’d second-guess; now I haven’t the conviction to buy what I want, don’t even know what I want, can’t seem to choose, no joy in shopping anymore—but back then, oh my, I almost trusted myself. Now I’d turn up my nose at nylon or Banlon, or whatever it is; plus it doesn’t have one of those fake fur collars (and why is one synthetic suspect and the other worth salivating for?). Still. It has epaulets with snaps. More snaps on the flaps of the front pockets, and at the top and the bottom of the brass zipper, which has twice been replaced. Come to think of it, that stuff at the extremities is new, too, relatively-speaking; the original cuffs went years ago. Inside, the lining, a silk the color of a muddy cup of coffee, is frayed beyond salvation across the back of the neckline. The ancient label inside the collar says Fine Leather Wear, the L in red script and nearly invisible, superimposed over a bucking blue horse, Foster & Sons. Below that in block letters: Made in U.S.A.
My old flight jacket. So shabby I’ve had to stop wearing it; unbecoming for a woman of my age and station, married with children that is (a person who shows up to back-to-school nights and college information sessions), can’t walk around in a jacket rubbed to raw, the sort of item another person might pull out of dumpster and keep in her shopping cart under the trestle at Sunset and Alvarado, where she lives because she lost her house (makes me think of that old refrain, There but for you go I…). Can’t wear it to work; can’t wear it out to dinner; can’t wear it to a black tie event with a little black dress—I’m just too old—can’t even wear it with jeans worn at the knees, which I also shouldn’t be wearing, don’t think I don’t worry about that, too. But imagine: I only figured out that my jacket was unrespectable—inappropriate—about a year ago; up until then it didn’t occur to me I needed something to cover my ass, something slightly more dignified. At which point I put my old friend in the back of the car to take to Good Will. Except I couldn’t part with it. Except Good Will wouldn’t have had it if I could. I brought it back to the house, laid it over the banister to be taken downstairs and hung in the dark of my closet.