There comes a time in every man’s life when he has an epiphany of self reflection. This moment usually comes without warning and is never kind. Like most of my peers, I’ve always carried myself with an air of invincibility. It’s hard not to laugh at your elders when you’re still frolicking around in a young man’s skin. There’s no remorse in goading the freshman when your plume is in full dress.
But be careful…
Youth is but another layer of skin, shed from the snake.
Your time will come. It always does…
And when it comes, it will be you who cries the tears of a clown.
My time came this week in the form of a Black Leather Motorcycle Jacket. The day started out like any other day. Zone Bar and Rock Star. The breakfast of A-holes. I showered, brushed and picked out my clothes. Jeans, a t-shirt and blue Adidas kicks.
Nothing to see here.
It’s my ensemble du jour. Axe deodorant and two sprays of cologne on the neck. Walk into the second spray. My brother taught me that. I’ll wear my contacts today because it’s sunny. I only wear my glasses in the rain. Should I sport my Francis Llewellyn 'Ponch' Poncherello style, mirrored, trooper sun glasses? Or shall I go Bono, lesbian sheik and don my white women’s Polo sunglasses?
Not many people can pull that off.
Like the triple Lutz of hipster cool.
White women’s Polo it is.
Then I made my choice. My self esteem lay dormant in a hidden sleeve pocket…
In a closet.
You know what they say. The devil’s in the details. God knows they were right.
Me – “Honey! What’s the temperature out there today?”
Wife – “It’s chilly.”
Me – “Like sweatshirt chilly or Jacket chilly?”
Wife – “Why don’t you just check for yourself?”
Good idea. I open the door and take a step outside. It’s brisk. A clear, Fall day. Fall reminds me of college and college reminds me of…
My Black Leather Motorcycle Jacket.
Oh sweet Jesus in heaven. Your zippers shine like the brightest star on the darkest night. Like old friends that have been out of touch, we pick up right where we left off. We never even skipped a beat.
I slip on my leather. It speaks to me.
What did you just say?
I know what you’re thinking. I can feel it too. We can take on the world together. One windbreaker at a time. Those posers are no match for our combined forces. Who cares if I’ve never ridden a motorcycle? No one will know. So what if it’s unconventional for Jews to wear leather.
Arthur Fonzarelli was a member of the tribe.
But it was just a TV show.
SHUT YOUR MOUTH!
Don’t ever let such blasphemy roll off of your tongue.
My wife kisses me before she leaves, like Michael kissed Fredo.
Wife – “Nice jacket.”
Me – “What?”
Wife – “Bye!”
What did she mean?
I walk into the den. I approach my two daughters. They are transfixed by the magic box of light that projects talking pictures. They do not acknowledge me at all.
Me – “Guys.”
Me – “YO!”
My older daughter answers without disengaging from her business.
7 Year Old – “What?”
Me – “Do you like this jacket?”
7 Year Old – “No.”
She has still yet to make eye contact with me.
Me – “But you didn’t even look at me?”
She looks at me for a moment and looks away.
7 Year Old – “No.”
Me – “That’s it?”
My time is up. What does she know? She’s never even seen Happy Days.
I arrive at the train station. I get out of my vehicle. I brisk walk. I maneuver in and out of parked cars in the lot, like a leather clad duck. I pass a Mini-Van and catch a glimpse of my reflection in the window. I stop for a moment and stare at my reflection like a modern day Narcissus.
Is my hair too short? My head looks like a cone. I've never noticed all of these buttons. I need to catch my train. I move on.
I sit on the train, wedged between too fat ladies that smell like Nova, Coffee and Spit. I choke back the vomit. I fumble for my ipod and then my phone. My Black Leather Motorcycle jacket is squeaking with every leathery move. I am the annoying, squeaky, leather jacket guy. The fat ladies seem to be losing their patience with either me or my jacket.
I can’t tell.
I find a small, powder blue dreidel in one of the 8 zipper pockets, on my sleeve. I pretend to fall asleep.
My train arrives in Penn Station. I feel safe here. So many freaks. I will blend into a sea of Black Leather Motorcycle Jackets. I walk through the station listening to my ipod and I pass a group of college kids. I glance at them and they are staring at my jacket. I am positive I see one of them mouth the word LOSER and they erupt in laughter. My stomach feels weird.
I feel sorry for him and then I realize that HIM is ME.
I feel uncomfortable all of a sudden. I contemplate buying a sweatshirt and stuffing my Black Leather Motorcycle jacket in my bag. There's an American Eagle Outfitters right down 7th Ave.
God Damn, piece of Shit jacket!
I should have listened to my daughter. She's cooler than I am.
I arrive at work. I say hello to the Russian doorman. He has only 3 fingers on his right hand. He looks like Whimpy from Popeye. I wait for him to mutter his usual, lifeless greeting. It's always a "Happy ______ (Insert day here)."
Wait for it...
"Happy Monday. I like your Jacket."
I am through.
I slip into the elevator and remove my Black Leather Motorcycle Jacket. I crumble it up into a leathery ball. It squeaks with every wrinkle.
Everyone stares at me.
When I get home, I will put my Black Leather Motorcycle Jacket back in the closet and leave it there forever.
It is dead to me.
I suppose we were never right for each other. Perhaps there is someone out there who would want the jacket. Maybe a wayward Steppin' Wolf fan or a member of The Chai Riders.
I don't care. My days of being Out-Numbered by zipper sleeve pockets are over...