Jan 14, 2009

Moving On Is Hard To Do

I'm not a huge fan of change. I was crushed when M*A*S*H was canceled. The idea of repainting the walls in the house a different colour makes me break out. Heck, I don't even like to carry coins in my pocket. But, change is, like farting, inevitable. The best you can hope for is to be somewhat in control when it happens.

I like my motorcycle jacket. It's one of those old standards, the classic 1950's police-style jacket with the offset zipper and the big belt with the square chrome buckle. Black leather, naturally, lots of zippers on pockets and sleeves and such, and snaps on the lapels and collar. I've worn it for more years than I can count, and it's lasted me so long I'm wearing it on my fourth bike now. Needless to say it's seen some miles.

(Here it is fairly new, back in 1996 when I was riding Betsey, the first "Strawberry Bitch." That's my first Arai helmet in my proud hands. And yes, that's a Scooby Doo stuffed animal stuffed in there. I think I was bringing it home for Weerelephant for a present. It also might have been for some other girl. It's been a while. Anyway.)

One of the things that always makes me laugh about the weekend Harley guys is their leathers. Always perfect, always clean, you can tell they're doctors or lawyers or tax accountants in real life who unpack this Harley persona on weekends. Not a speck on those leathers, not a single raindrop has fallen on them, not a bug speck. Heck, there's barely even creases.

My jacket? My jacket has more creases than Phyllis Diller's face. It carries bug spatters that are so ground in that not even repeated applications of saddle soap can get them out. It's got scuffs and bumps and imperfections abounding. It has been worn through a dozen freezing cold winters and worn in rainstorms too numerous to count, including one rather memorable hail storm.

It's even got a bomb, a lipsticky kiss and a mostly naked girl on the back.

Here's the original, a WWII-era B-24 Liberator bomber.

I love my jacket. Thirteen years of wearing it have made it as much a part of my body as my hands and feet. People ask me about the jacket, about the girl, about all of it, and I often give them the whole story, or as much of it as I think they'll want to hear. It's FUN. It's different. It's personal. And now I've got to put it aside. Change has come.

Two reasons forced this change:

1) The wreck
2) My job.

The wreck, as you remember, left Black Betty in pieces and left several rather large scuffs across the back, collar and elbow of my jacket. Now that in itself isn't anything at all. I'd just as soon leave them on there, pale grey reminders of how fast things can change when you think you're in control. Also, nothing says 'well-traveled' like scars. If I grew weary of them I could always get out the black Kiki polish and some Neet's Foot oil and make them disappear too, except for some residual roughness.

The job, however, isn't as easy to get around. Back when The Demon Bitch From Hell was running the joint she said to me one day that 'someone' in the office was offended by my jacket, and I had to stop wearing it. Instead, I just folded it up carefully and made sure nothing showed when I went inside. I had figured out, you see, about an hour after she spoke to me that it was SHE who was offended, not another employee.

Well, things have changed again. No longer am I one of three men in the office on a daily basis. Now I am ONE man in an office suddenly filled with women. Granted there's two more male employees but they're field staff, and the office staff contains even more women than usual. Plus we went one better and hired about six MORE women to fill the field staff roster out further. I'm trapped in an estrogen-based world.

I guess it had to happen--someone spoke to our new director about it. I know our new director--she laughed out loud the first time she saw it, back when she was still a field nurse and said nothing more. She, you see, has a sense of humour and understands why I wear it. One of the multitude we hired, however, doesn't share that sense of humour and this being a P. C. world, I had to put her aside. Today, actually, having begged three more days of wear out of The Boss while my new jacket came in.

My new jacket. What dreadful words those are. Don't get me wrong, it's a NICE jacket. It's even got armour where my old one didn't (spine, elbows and shoulders) and has a full-length zip-out quilted liner which will extend it's wear-time. It's thicker than the old jacket, 1.1 to 1.3mm leather. It even zips onto my riding pants at the back.

But it's new.

It's shiny. It's slick. It still smells like the factory from whence it came. It came on a shiny new hanger wrapped in a plastic bag. I don't recall my old jacket coming in a plastic bag. When I bought it it'd already somehow had several thousand miles on it and smelled of saddle soap and Neet's Foot oil. It creaked like an old house and it fit like a lover's embrace.

Oh, I know in time this new jacket will pick up bug spots that go liner-deep. I know it'll start breaking in at some point, and will need oiling and saddle soaping. I even know one day it will creak with that delicious sound of an old chair being settled into. It might even one day fit me as well as my old jacket. Who knows, it might even one day sport a PG-rated pin-up girl, with "Sally" painted across the shoulders and "Miss Behavin'" across the tailpiece.

But damnit, it's not my old jacket.*

* For those of you who are about to say "But Irrelephant, why don't you just wear the old one when you aren't at work?" I say "But I shall, but those times are few and far between." Plus, I guess a little change can be good for you.

Nah, who am I kidding?


meno said...

Hmmmm. Well, i suppose you could paint some pants on her, but that would just be wrong.

I understand how you feel. I am so sick of PCness. It's not like you can see her privates or anything.

Nicely told dude.

Scott from Oregon said...

tie your leathers up with a rope and drag it down a dirt road for a mile and a quarter.

That'll age 'em.

I do this whenever I have to buy a new set of leather pouches for construction.

Mickelodeon said...

Ouch. I'm sorry about your jacket! =( I don't know what I would do without mine, although I have neither a bomb nor a nekkid lady across the back of mine. Of course, I can't really fit into it right now, either, so it's rather a moot point.

But I'm still really sorry you can't wear your beloved to work. Goddamn PC Brownshirts! =( Boo! Hiss!

Gordo said...

Sigh. One more casualty in the war on individuality.

My college jacket fits like your old one. Well, it used to. Wonderful, soft creaky leather. Unfortunately, I got it 10 years before my metabolism slowed. It makes me sad whenever I look at it in the closet, but I'll never get rid of it.

Bob said...

a moment of silence observed for the passing of the collective sense of humor in lower LA.

Clowncar said...

The new one, while nice, strikes me as dull and humorless. Like your colleagues. Think of it as wearing a metaphor.

I guess it's a simile, but whatever.

Oh, and "pale grey reminders of how fast things can change when you think you're in control" is a sweet phrase.

HotairHarley said...

All I can do is hang my head and think how sad it is to have to cave in to the PC patrol. Since the first time I saw the 'Strawberry Bitch' I thought "that's one of the coolest jackets I've ever seen".

Jean said...

that sucks! For the most part, I hate working with women. gahhhhhhh!

Nancy Dancehall said...

Ga. Women are so...womanly. I hate 'em.

I think you should paint "Logan's Run" on the back of the new one. And what Clowncar said about the metaphor.

Strawberry bitches rock.

Irrelephant said...

Thank you, meno. Yeah, pants would be weird. Not Pants, but pants lowercase. *g* Granted, Pants is pretty weird too at times. I'm also about fed up to HERE with PC.

Scott, if you're paying for your toolbelts what I paid for that jacket then either you're in the right business or someone has really been blowing smoke up your arse. *lol*

Mix, I'm pretty disgusted with it, me, but then again, I am living under the buckle of the Bible Belt, so I guess it shouldn't be a huge surprise.

Gordo, that was the first real GOOD jacket I ever bought and wore for any length of time. I never knew how wonderfully they could come to be until that jacket. I'm sure it'll hang in the closet until forever, as it also has my uncle's Eighth Air Force and China-Burma-India theatre patches from back when.

You're one of the good ones, Bob. *g*

CC, I think it IS a simile, but it's a good one. *g* And don't get me wrong, I LIKE the new one, or I'd not have paid what I did for it, and it does offer a lot more protection than the old one too, which is nice. I'm already starting to plan on a new girl for this one, a very PG one.

I'm glad you liked that--sometimes I gets a good one.

HAH, I'm very honoured! I love that jacket beyond words, but I'm hoping that "Miss Behavin'" will be almost as cool. *G* I'm thinking about using a recent pin-up style photo of Kat Von Dee for the model.

Jean, I think my problem is that I'm tired of working with PEOPLE.

*lmao* A Sandman! How excellent, Nancy! But probably not. See above--I'm leaning heavily toward a 50's bathing beauty type, with cover-all bikini.

And I agree 100%. *lol*

Stucco said...

Get a Pamprin logo on the back of this one...

Vulgar Wizard said...

No, no, no-no-no . . . the old jacket is MINE!

I cannot believe you've been harrassed TWICE at that hellhole about a jacket you've worn FOR. YEARS. What a bunch of lawsuit-happy idiots.

Schmoopie said...

Feelin' a little breathless from lookin' at the pic of you. Whew!

Good looking guys on motorcycles are a treasure indeed. :)

Irrelephant said...

VW, you should have snuck into the closet and snagged it yesterday!

Schmoop, you stop that! You're making me blush!