I had so much fun free-associating yesterday that I was very tempted to simply find another poem I could release my mind to fly on. However, I have had a topic in mind for some time that I haven’t fully developed yet. The title says it all: “Pockets.”
Various factors have got me thinking about this peculiar subject, both personally and historically. I would hope that faithful readers recall in The Book of Seasons, when Durwood Wakdjunkaga magically arrived in the Hotel Allison on a late autumn evening in 1974 (geez, if you talk and think about this stuff enough, and lived through the real events that inspired your imagination, you can almost begin to think it was all real—not), he was wearing a strange vest unfamiliar to the pompous and naïve narrator. If you can’t remember, the descriptive passage went like this: “His clothing surprised me. He was wearing a brown polo shirt, blue denim jeans, a green vest-like garment which hung as long as a sports coat with several pockets in it, and red tennis shoes. His costume, for it certainly did not suit his age, distinguished him in my mind from the Allison. …The vest had six pockets in all: two at chest level in front, two side pockets, and within two deep inner compartments.” I knew clearly just what that vest should look like when I wrote those words, even though it did not exist nor had not ever, to my knowledge. And not because I have such a vivid and creative imagination (I begin to fear that I do not—on either adjectival count).
Back in college I had worn several Army-green cloth coats that hung the length I described that eventually I cut the sleeves from for summer wear late in college. (Yes, we are the witless slaves of fashion in every era, and it is always so embarrassing later, albeit I think the kids of the Eighties are going to writhe in humiliation a lot more, assuming they/you all have the necessary sensitivity and personal awkwardness to suffer such pangs, and for much longer than my generation—although I still blush to even think of my pompous, self-important high school senior photo in a military-style coat with my “Think Peace” button added without my parents’—especially my mother’s—knoweldge once I got to the photographer’s studio. Strange to think: we used to just take about five or ten possible shots and pick just one.) Later, I acquired a couple of blue-denim chore coats at Theisen’s once I moved here to Maquoketa. One or more of them suffered the same descent into vestness, but I recently discovered I still had a complete one. Notice the photo. At least by this draft of The Book of Seasons which I have transcribed for the blog the vest had become a formal imitation of what I haphazardly created, although I kept the vest green as originally invented.
Why did I like these garments? I wanted pockets, places to put things so I would have them with me, what the Seinfeld program suggested by the term “man-purse.” Except I wasn’t carrying no darned purse! Even today, I feel uncomfortable carrying my cloth bag to the grocery store.
So Wakdjunkaga’s vest helps him to carry all the items of his magical existence. I suppose it’s another way that he is me, except there’s nothing particularly magical about my possessions. (I know, grammatically that should be “he is I.”) What it really shows is the importance of pockets. And, as Janet will quickly assert, pockets are important to me.
I was still wearing the blue chore coats when we met and got married. She did try to lure me off those, and she had a good chance because of one issue—they didn’t have enough pockets. You can see all the pockets they have in the photo: four. I always wanted to sew extra material inside each lapel to create those two extra “deep, inner pockets” that Wakdjunkaga has.
In 1984 or ‘85 I did create some inner pockets with my own stitchery on a lightweight gray windbreaker/cloth jacket I bought the summer we went to Fiji. Janet made me toss that to Maquoketa Community Services last summer or earlier, or I’d show you a picture of it. It was made with tons of extra material flapping on the inside from the zippers, so I just sewed those loose, four- or five-inch wide interior lapels (what would you call it?) across in several places and created two (weirdly shaped) pockets on each side—four total interior pockets. My creation worked not very great for our seventeen-hour flight across the Pacific and back for that ideal vacation. (Sorrowfully, Fiji got hammered last week by typhoon winds and rains, horrible.)
I tried wearing that coat, but all the self-created pockets were almost uselessly awkward, especially for holding books (my principal stuff to carry, although sometime in the mid or late Eighties I bought a Walkman for portable music, which I also wanted to carry in some pockets). So I remained frustrated…
This post topped 800 words a while ago, so I think I will break what I had imagined as one post into at least two, and tell you (too much) more about my PocketQuest tomorrow.
For then I discover Banana Republic! (No, the original California company before the owners sold it to Old Navy or whoever owns those hoity-toity urban metrosexual Banana Republic worthless joints now.)