A violet satin jacket changed my life. It had the colorful logo of the media company I worked for embroidered on the back and my name stitched in silver on the front. Of course, it didn’t affect me as significantly as gainful employment in my chosen field, but it symbolized a personal positive nonetheless.
I was a degreed artist with programming skills and a talent for technology hired to do computer-based video graphics and animation for Video Post and Transfer, a hard-charging post-production company. After a couple of months, I proved myself. As motivation, they gave me this satin jacket, the kind that was all the rage in media businesses of the early 1980’s.
It was a great gig, though it didn’t change the fact that I was just a computer geek. Somewhat more aesthetic and outgoing, maybe, but a nerd nonetheless. I was skinny, none too tall, and sported a large Seventies mustache. But with this jacket, suddenly I was a thing.
Nonetheless, I remained a techie at heart, and you know the suave and studly reputation of our cultural subgroup. This little anecdote will not shatter your impressions:
I agreed to meet a group of associates at a strip club in a lame stab at a bachelor party for a video engineer. A nice guy. I arrived about three minutes before the rest of the group and took a seat in a raised area near the front door. Looking towards the back of the building, I saw that the left wall held three semi-circular stages, each with a good-looking, mostly naked woman lethargically working the beat. Along the right wall was a 30-foot long bar topped by a second floor stuffed with racks of electronic equipment driving the sound systems and special effects; a galaxy of little lights.
As my party entered and made their way toward the center of the club, I watched every one of them, every single, heterosexual one of them, check out the wall of electronics first.
I laughed out loud.
Since I told that story about my peers. Here’s a similar one on me:
One night, wearing my satin jacket, I met a producer and an audio engineer, along with their wives, at a bar to listen to a band for an upcoming job. Between sets, we tried to discuss the project while being repeatedly interrupted by a busty young woman traveling between her table and the bar. “Just a’squeezin’ by,” she’d say with a wiggle of her pertinent parts. She was on her third breast-pressing squeeze-by before my comrades, with some exasperation, pointed out that she was trying to get my attention.
Unfortunately, my girlfriend arrived in time to witness that third drive-by. She spent the rest of the evening making sure Miss Squeezin’ knew just who belonged to who and simultaneously giving me the stink eye.
She shouldn’t have worried; I was that clueless.
About that time, a friend introduced me to a small cafe catering to the bohemian crowd. I became a regular. Beating the surge one weekday morning, I sat alone at a table for two. In minutes the line—there was always a line—would lengthen radically. Naturally, sharing tables was the community norm.
Turning the page of my newspaper, I looked up into the expectant eyes of a chic, attractive woman well more than a decade my senior. “Please,” I said, gesturing toward the empty chair.
Noticing her wedding ring as she sat, I returned to breakfast and news. After getting herself arranged, she cleared her throat. I lowered my paper and delivered a polite, noncommittal smile. Her eyes narrowed to what I interpreted to be accusatory slits, but she said nothing. Thinking I was taking the hint, I made a big deal of returning my attention to the newspaper.
She pulled a pack of cigarettes and a matchbook from her purse. After tapping one out, she dangled it loosely in her fingers.
I heard a long sigh and peeked over the top of my paper. Eyeing me with an implacable gaze, my tablemate struck a match, lit up, and somewhat loudly blew the smoke toward the ceiling. With a flourish, she propped her elbow on the table and waved the glowing ember of her cigarette between us.
She sighed again, a little louder.
Sensing weirdness, I gulped down the last of my coffee.
“OK.” she said, “I probably shouldn’t.”
I folded my newspaper and rose from the chair in a flash, but I was still too slow.
“Show me your jacket,” she commanded.
I turned to display the logo on the back. Her eyes went to my butt.
“So, you’re a director?” she asked. “A producer?”
“All I produce is flying logos, animated illustrations, and special effects.”
She wrote her phone number in the matchbook and handed it to me. I looked at it and then back at her. “Gotta go,” I said.
She attempted a smile that did nothing to reduce her predatory aura. “Don’t call before Saturday.”
That afternoon at the studio, I handed the matchbook to a horndog of a coworker.
“You could get lucky this weekend,” I told him. “Wear the jacket.”