J.Lynn Johnston's Blahg!

I love my life! You should too…

Once Upon A Time There Was A Jacket…

-I’ll end this prolonged Journal-silence with a story. It’s a love story about a motorcycle jacket and a skinny kid from California…

-I was in New York City a while back. I love that city. Problem is, I didn’t quite pack enough cold weather clothing. I was miserably frigid and windy, so I decided I needed to buy an old used motorcycle jacket. I’d been wanting to find the perfect jacket for a while, but I hate shopping at home. That’s too boring. I want my clothes to have a story that goes with them. Even if it does border on pretentious to say things like, “I got this hat at Salvation Army in Cleveland, Ohio.”

-I went to all sorts of vintage shops and “thrift stores” in Manhattan, looking for the right jacket. I was willing to endure the cold for a few more hours in order to find just the right piece of dead animal skin to cover my live one with. It had to be nice and skinny… Sleeves long enough to accommodate my ape arms… And nothing over a hundred bucks. The second-hand market is rediculous these days, and I thought I was striking out. Shivering as the wind charged right through my puny, pourous sweat shirt, I headed into yet another shop on St. Mark’s.

-Right off the bat, I found a leather cuff that matched my dog’s studded collar perfectly. I’m an oozing animal nerd, so of course this sign encouraged me. To top it off, the two guys working there were total wise-asses who couldn’t help but give me a hard time for dressing so “California”. I enjoy a good shit-giving session, and they had an entire wall full of vintage leather jackets. I dove into it.

-With wiseguy number one on a ten-foot ladder tossing options down to me, I went through a whole array of black leather outerwear. Most of the fare in my price range was pathetically cracked or torn. “That’s what you get for being such a cheapo,” wiseguy number two told me. I look up at the kid on the ladder, and he’s holding a jacket that looks perfect. He says it must be mis-labeled. It’s far too intact to be sold for so little.

-I made him throw it down to me immediately, the whole time spouting legal statutes that require shopkeepers to sell their merchandise for the price marked on the tag, etc. Blah blah blah… He laughed at me. I tried it on. The lining in the left sleeve was coming apart a bit, but other than that it was exactly what I’d been looking for. Broken in but not completely thrashed. And full of that classic leather creaky-squeak whenever you move.

-The sleeve lining issue was bugging me a bit, since every time I tried to put my hand in or out, my watch would catch on it and make the tear worse. Wise-ass number two had come out from behind the counter at this point, and was starting to tell a story about how his grandmother used to be a seamstress where his family was from back in Pakistan. He said she worked for “First American” clothing, and he always thought it was ironic that a company with such a patriotic name still had no problems farming out its cheap labor to a region of the world the USA seems to want only oil from. This led to a communal berating of the current president, and I was momentarily distracted from my decision-making on the jacket.

-I slipped the jacket off (carefully, so as not to rip more sleeve), and was about to overanalyze the purchase process, when I saw the label sewn into the jacket liner. “First American.” Then a smaller tag. “Made in Pakistan.”

-I looked up at the storyteller with suspicion. I asked him if he’d just told me a bullshit story just to get a sale. He looked back with honest confusion on his face, and with a bit of defensiveness asked me why I’d accuse him of that. I showed him the label. His face lit up. “Damn! My grandmother could have been the one who sewed that jacket, man!” I asked him if she was still alive. He said yes. I asked if she’d fix her shoddy sleeve-work if I sent it to her over in Pakistan. He laughed, then told me to shove the sleeve up my ass.

-That was all it took to convince me. I love my new leather jacket. And I bought it used in NYC from a guy whose grandmother may have been the one who originally sewed it back in Pakistan. Awesome. Warm. The end.

Love and garment legend,

September 9, 2004 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. “And I bought it used in NYC from a guy whose grandmother may have been the one who originally sewed it back in Pakistan. Awesome. Warm. The end.”

    Heh. Sweet. =)

    Comment by mehreenkasana | September 10, 2008 | Reply

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