Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Years of service

I feel like I was saying goodbye to an old friend. But after 19 years, I finally have retired my leather jacket. The time was right. But somehow it just doesn't feel right.

Yeah, I have been wearing the same leather jacket every winter since my sophomore year of college. I remember making the trip up to a mall in Appleton, Wisconsin with my girlfriend. It was just after Christmas and my pocket was full of cash from my mother and sister. The jacket was their gift to me and they had the sense to let me buy it instead of giving me something that I would probably return.

When we walked into the leather store, I had a good idea of what I wanted. I had visions of heavy metal in my head. A jacket with leather tassels falling off the sleeves, or something with chains on it. A jacket that would scream head banger.

Instead, my girl directed me over to something that was a bit more conservative. It had style and looked nice. It fit like a glove from the moment I put it on. The weight of the jacket was amazing. It was heavy. It had heft. It looked good. It smelled good. It made me feel good. And my girlfriend thought it was hot too.

Year later, she would be just a memory, but that jacket was always there when it was cold out. Each year I would look forward to putting it on and feeling that weight on my shoulders. Sure it was a bit snug now, and I barely used the zipper, but it still felt so comfortable.

At one point, I had wiped it down every year, cleaning it religiously in November. But that soon stopped. It was the pockets that were first to go. The holes became bigger and soon it was a joke to call it a pocket. My keys would get lost in the jacket if I used them. Soon the lining of the jacket would begin to fray and tear. The leather itself was old and beginning to look tattered. I fooled myself into thinking it looked good, that is was stress or had a cool worn in look. But reality set in last year and I realized it was time to let this cow go back out to pasture.

This weekend it became official. I stopped in and bought a new leather jacket. Somehow I found one that looked quite a bit like my old friend. Same basic style. I had asked my friend Gambino if it was weird to want to buy a jacket that looked like the same one I had bought 20 years ago. She said it wasn't, that it was a look that never goes out of style. Funny, I mentioned to the sales lady that this jacket looked like the one I had and she made the exact same comment.

There is one major difference between the two jackets though. My old one was cow leather. This one is lambskin. They didn't make this new one in cow. I had a choice between the lamb and a different style in cow, but went with lamb. Sure the cow was heavy and felt nice but there were things about that jacket that weren't good. The lamb is softer and just a bit lighter, and it simply looks better. It feels like a homage to my old jacket. And yes Gambino, I will let you smell the jacket.

So rest in peace my old friend. I am not sure what I will do with you. But I do know, you will not be forgotten.

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