It was a god-awful sports coat, a hand-me-down from my cousin Bill. Plaid with hideous bands of colors: bile yellow intersecting with gall green.
“It looks like Bill puked on it,” chided my brother Mark. During those days, he often went for the visceral, knowing that it would work on me, the psychological terror rendered on a younger brother.
“No, it’s Madras,” Mom retorted, giving Mark a glare while holding the coat up against my shoulders. I hoped it would be too large, and it was, Bill being a bit of an Ichabod. (And I knew it wasn’t Madras; not at least the fabric that was currently in style!)
I think I wore it once, begrudgingly, when my Aunt Dorothy (Bill’s mom) came by. I modeled it and feigned appreciation.
At the next opportunity, it migrated to the far recesses of my closet, lost and buried among other outgrown, out of dated, and outlandish articles.
Fast forward a couple of years. It was the 60s. My hair was long, and friends and I were learning to smoke hashish and talk the finer points of revolution. Clothing had grown funky and hip. Thrift stores and army surplus were the rage. Plaid was definitely out!
My friend Dwight called to let me know of an anti-war protest at Coventry on the east side. Wanna go? There would be speeches, a march, and a candlelight vigil in the park. And there would be lots of hippie chicks! Wear something groovy, he challenged. But what?
On very short notice, I rummaged my closet, Dwight was already waiting impatiently in the driveway. Out of desperation, I put on a pair of bellbottom jeans, a work shirt, and I exhumed the puke coat. Yes, I was far out…
An hour later we fell in line with the marchers and headed down the middle of Coventry St. to the park. Riot cops were everywhere, and it wasn’t the party we had hoped for. The police cut off the march, bellowing through a bull horn that there wasn’t a march permit. Disband or be arrested, they challenged.
Almost immediately a couple of us were hustled out of the street and up against a police van.
“ID’s please,” a big cop demanded. ID?! Where the fuck is my wallet?! Out of desperation I reached into my pocket, fumbling for a miracle. My fingers grasped a small card…ID? The cop grabbed it, opened it and silently read. Handing it back I saw that it was a “Get out of jail” card from an old monopoly game. Shit!
The cop looked at us, smiled and said, “Go home kid…and for god’s sake lose the jacket!”
We left in a hurry.
Thanks Cousin Bill.