Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Real Deal

I have this jacket. It’s supposed to look like an army field jacket-olive drab, with a serial number on the left side. As I said-it’s supposed to look real-but it’s not. It’s just some designer’s idea of a field jacket. I bought it at a thrift store because it was cheap and I thought it was kind of cool too.

Today while I was at the post office a grizzled older Vietnam era clerk was at the desk and he spotted my jacket. “Hey” he says, “How’d you get a serial number on your field jacket?” “Oh this isn’t a real field jacket-it’s just a designer look alike.” I told him. He looked puzzled-“Well I’ll be darned. A designer field jacket. I’ve got three of the real thing hanging up at home.” I hastily tried to explain that I’d gotten this one cheap, and liked it because it looked neat, etc., etc. Made a verbal fool of myself. He was very kind and smiled nicely. I uttered a barely audible “Have a good day.” and left.

I got to thinking about my jacket, and other similar things-like the leather flying jackets you can buy so that you look like a WWII bomber pilot. And I though-what a big fat joke. The problem is-the joke is at the expense of those who wore field jackets, and bomber jackets during times of conflict. During WWII a paratrooper candidate who earned his jump wings also earned the right to blouse his pant legs into the tops of his boots. It wasn’t something a guy with any integrity would do if he didn’t deserve to. So it is with a field jacket. There is no meaning behind the one I have (and how could there be-because it’s not even real.) I imagine when the postal clerk looks at his field jackets there are many memories-authentic memories-good ones and bad ones-associated with his. He may even wear his jackets, but not to look cool I bet. So what he thinks of a “designer” jacket such as mine I can only imagine. (I’m guessing not good thoughts.) But typical with so many who served their country and came home-they keep their thoughts to themselves.

I’m not ever wearing this jacket again. It seems comical and ludicrous now. I’m not sure what I'll do with it. I don’t believe in wasting something perfectly good, but to give it away would be to perpetuate the cycle. I’ll come up with a good alternative use for it. (Now that would be cool.) And I’ll start shopping for a different jacket-one that I truly can be proud to wear.


  1. I never thought about it in that way before — and it makes so much sense. This post really made me think.

  2. Thank you for your comment! Some people I've mentioned the incident to today don't get my point at all-they see it as just a jacket. I feel good about my decision though and glad I'm not the only one who understands:)
    I got my special issue of America in WWII (all about the contributions of movie stars) and it's really interesting-thanks again for having the link to it on your blog!