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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Jackets and I... We Have A History

You know how they say "The (insert article of clothing) makes the man"? For me this article of clothing is my jacket. I have an unhealthy attachment to jackets. I'm not sure why but, were I to guess, I'd say that it's because my dad would always wear one to work-he used to be in the Air Force so seeing him go to work and come back from work with a jacket on made an impression on me.

I've gone through a lot of jackets in my life. (Engage rambling... now)

Last week I made the decision to get a new jacket. I needed something to use during the fall/winter months that was both casual, cool, and appropriate for evening wear (should I ever have the need of it). I was thinking last week, while searching for this jacket, of my favorite jackets... and that brought me to the realization that jackets and I go way, way back. We were made for each other.

My first favorite jacket was one that pretty much came from this jewel of a book. The cover of it had Grover on it with his new, lucky jacket. It was red, it was cool looking, and I wanted it. My mom, bless her heart, found a jacket that was pretty much exactly like the one on the cover of the book, minus the baseball and the zipper (it was a button jacket). I actually liked it better without the baseball and I didn't mind the buttons.

I wore that jacket pretty much all the way through elementary school. It was my favorite jacket. It was red, it had pockets (only two), and it was pretty much resistant to any nasty weather. It was a tough, cool jacket, and I felt like a million bucks (so, with inflation, that's like a couple billion bucks now). I even attempted to wear that thing during the summer but my mother didn't allow that-she would have to hide the jacket during the warmer months to keep me from wearing it.

But, like all things, I grew out of it by the time 5th grade came around. The jacket got passed down to my little brother and then got passed down again, to my second little brother. It's still with the family today. But me, in 5th grade, I was without a favorite jacket. I just couldn't find one that worked right.

They were too big, too stuffy, too weird feeling (texture in jackets is a huge thing for me... if it doesn't feel right it won't get worn), or just not good enough for me. I rotated through a few so-so jackets, not having one that screamed "MUST WEAR!" at me. This period of having no favorite jacket was one where I pretty much established the rest of my wardrobe that, to some extent, still holds true to this day.

I would throw on a t-shirt, some pants (shorts sometimes, jeans often), and a pair of tennis shoes (not actual tennis shoes but you get the point). It was a pretty basic setup but it was missing that last piece, that bit that would make it complete: the jacket.

It wouldn't be till 9th grade that I would begin to dabble in finding a favorite jacket and, after some testing (and some really bad luck in a few of them), I settled on a jacket that would go on to define my high school and collegiate legacy, so to speak.

I found the camo jacket. Technically, it was one of my dad's old Air Force BDUs-not a jacket really-but that's how I termed it. The camo would become a staple of my wardrobe for the next 7-8 years.

As you can see, I quite enjoyed the camo (and food in my high school/collegiate years) and wore it pretty much every day. I mean that quite literally. Since my dad had plenty of old BDUs about, I had a near inexhaustible supply of camo jackets. I wore them in the rain. I wore them in the cold. I wore them in the heat. I wore them in pretty much any situation.

I LOVED the camo. It had everything one needed because it had pockets-lots of pockets. I love pockets-the more pockets, the more things you could stick in the pockets. I had the pockets on the camo jackets organized in a pretty sweet way. The upper left breast pockets was for important documents-things that could be folded up and dealt with at a later date. The upper right pocket was for fun things-gag items like fake teeth, trick coins, a deck of cards ect. The lower right pocket was for pens and pencils, erasers too if needed. The lower left pocket was dedicated to random things-loose change, rubber bands, bouncy balls, ect.

I would wear this jacket all throughout high school and most of college. In college, I would add the heavy camo-a jacket really designed for the rain/cold/nastiness that weather would sometimes bring-to my limited wardrobe.

As you can see, the heavy camo was attached to a heavier me. I made an art form of gaining weight while in college, but that's another subject for another time. Anyways, the heavy camo, the regular camo, and my standard wardrobe would all mix together to form what I would wear with amazing consistency for nearly 7-8 years.

Unlike my red jacket though, I would not grow out of the camo... oh yes, I did get large enough to the point that I couldn't wear it well anymore, but I still wore it, stubbornly refusing to give it up despite the fact I couldn't button it for my life. No, I shrunk out of the camo-losing 126 pounds does that to a person I guess.

It became too large for me, a possible first in the history of jackets and man. With a jacket that was too big for me yet possessed years worth of memories, untold sentimental value, and lots of pockets (I do love pockets), I was forced to give it up, thus putting me without a jacket again.

Last week, I took to town to find one and find one I did-on my first attempt no less! I compared, I shopped around, I tried things on, but the jacket I got was the right choice. Not only was it a good price but it was also made of material I'm fine with, had lots of pockets, and is apparently a good look on me (this comes from multiple trustworthy sources, I swear).

I proudly sit here with this new jacket on, happy I bought it and happy to report that I do indeed feel this is my new favorite jacket. In the week that I've had it it's already shown itself to be more than up to the task in making me feel comfortable with it... and comfortable around others with it. 

I busted out the new jacket on Saturday-it was a busy day, last Saturday. I had a prayer meeting with my Sunday School class and I was nervous. For one, I had no idea how to act in a prayer meeting... it was a concept I was unfamiliar with. Two, I was slated to make muffins (I volunteered to bring breakfast) and so I was concerned that maybe I was going to suck some cool cred away from my new jacket while arriving with muffins.

Despite all that, I went to the meeting with my new jacket on and muffins in hand. Things went very well. Not only did my muffins get eaten by the people there but a few got saved for children, who willingly ate them as well. I wore the jacket the entire time in the meeting and was quite at ease-I easily killed the better part of an hour telling them my life story (in other words how I arrived at where I am now and the many tangents within that story). It was great.

The real test came Saturday afternoon/evening. I was invited along to a birthday party and, despite my usual tendency to duck such events (I didn't know many of these people, I didn't know how to go about things, I suck at social functions... need I go on?) I forced myself to RSVP. One of my better decisions last week and in recent memory. 

The jacket once again proved itself as, with it nearby me and later on me, I was confident, cool, and pretty collected. I was hanging out with people my age (20 somethings, it's a shock) and having a blast trading stories, commenting on things, and in general just talking. Admittedly, I think they got the false impression that I too was of their particular religion with the way they were talking about other religions (mine included) but I didn't bother to correct them or make an issue out of it-every religion talks about the other religions. I found it refreshing to have a group of us just sit there and hash out the various things we had issues with as far as religion and religious education is concerned. 

I functioned well at this party, I didn't camp out near the people I knew, and I interacted with new people much to my surprise. My friend made the comment as we were leaving that I wasn't such a wallflower at all at this party and she was right-I wasn't. It was a refreshing change. 

Rationally, I know that the jacket REALLY didn't do anything for me as it's only an article of clothing. However, I know that I'm more comfortable in it than without it in some places and that the level of comfort it brings me helps put me at ease which lets me be less of a social loser. A win-win as I see it. 

In conclusion, for me, jackets make the man. I look forward to what man this jacket makes me (if that makes any sense).

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