Sunday, November 20, 2005

Passing of an Era: I

The picture: On the left is my younger brother, Joel. Next to him is my older sister, May (sorry, if you don't like the picture May :). That girl in the front is my sister's ex-sister-in-law. On the right is me at the tender age of 17.

I searched through a lot of pictures and, sorry, this is the best I could find to pay homage to a wonderful jacket. First I called it the "20 pound coat." One plastic hanger is not enough; best use two hangers or the one will snap and the coat will be on the floor. Nowadays I call it Big Green or The Big Green Coat.

I know that I am in a transitional place in my life, as far as careers, kids, houses, all that. Moreso, I have already decided that after this year I will retire Big Green.

My wife hates the coat. Hates. It's a military issue coat, from the tag: Jacket, Flying, Man's. I'm sure the coat is older than I am. My stepfather acquired the coat, used, when I was about 16. Already retired from military duty. But as such it was meant to perform. You can abuse it and it will be ready to go again tomorrow for years on end. Someone could shiv you in an alley, you would need one stitch, the coat would take five. Wouldn't it be cool during the design of all clothes, if the taylor stopped every couple of minutes to ask "Now where can we fit MORE bullets?" How about four tiny pockets on the sleeve? Watch out, enemies of democracy! Wool pockets up high, giant chambers down low. Dual chambers that would rival any woman's purse for storage.

When I wear Big Green I understand why girls chase and marry men with money. It is impossible to be cold in the embrace, even while building a snowcave. In school, the coat is a fortress. You can drift into slumber and Big Green will hold you as rigid as the most alert notetaker. If someone breaks your heart and your stepping off a bus, considering collapsing in the street, you can do it. It won't hurt or be uncomfortable, even if you're on rocks or in a puddle. At my torturous place of employment I used the coat as a physical shield. Tried to block out my horrible reality.

Today the coat is stained and torn. The wrists were shredded by the sharp metal edges of my snowboard during years of back country riding. The edges are ragged like cut-off jeans.

So this is Big Green's last winter and life will never be the same again.


Native Minnow said...

I'm sorry to hear about the loss of Big Green. I was just looking at my own the other day, thinking about how I haven't worn it in a couple of years (it just doesn't get cold enough here in Vegas). It hasn't seen as much use as yours, but I can't look at it in my closet without getting at least a little bit nostalgic. I usually think about the same things you mentioned in your post. Hiking up the hill just to snowboard back down (whether by the airport or at East McKee - which ought to bring back another, not so pleasant memory), or the time when we built that snow cave and I ended up getting sick from the exhaust fumes that filled it up while we were digging it out. It's hard to believe that all of that was over ten years ago, and that I've kept the coat for so long even though I rarely use it. I figure that I need to keep it on hand in case I ever move to Alaska, Siberia or Antarctica. It probably helps that I don't have a wife that hates it too. Otherwise, my 'Big Green' probably would be retired as well.

slimysculpin said...

The beloved Star Trek hat, esteemed replacement of the Star Wars hat (may it rest in peace), faded into oblivion this year as well. The top had decomposed to the point that it no longer really qualified as a hat- it was more of a visor. It will be sorely missed. I'm auditioning a number of potential replacements (including a "shut up and fish" hat from Dutch John), but haven't settled on a winner.