The nicest thing about turning 50 has been what feels like either enlightenment or perhaps self-realization. I have achieved the most important life goals I set out for myself as a young adult, so now I am at the beginning of a personal transitional period. I have been writing these growing up episodes from my life experiences for over a year now. It has been fun. It has also been a bit illuminating. I am sometimes shocked as to the level of detail I have been able to drag out of my memories. Another way it has been illuminating is that through my writing, I have been able to ‘recreate’ for myself some of the feelings I must have experienced from the time periods I write about.
With that said, I will start by telling you this next story is from a time of very early teens or pubescence. I am guessing I was 13 based on what I have been able to decipher from other stories. I remember feeling ‘cool’ as I was providing my explanation to my mother about what you’re getting ready to read. Hindsight tells me I was ignorant, brash, an idiot. Those are just a few of the adjectives that come to mind. The truth is just that I was young. I thought I was cool, or I wanted to be.
Between the ages of 12-15, I remember growing like a weed. I’m sure this contributed to feeling like I didn’t have a lot of clothes that fit me. I was also the oldest of nine kids, so no hand-me-downs for me. When I was lucky enough to get a pair of pants that fit and that I thought was cool, I wore them to death. That was the case with a pair of dark brown bell bottoms, soft to the touch. I felt most cool in those pants and I wore them as often as I could for the year or less that they fit me.
Unfortunately, those cool pants of mine developed a couple of holes or tears. Lots of kids in those days were wearing patches on their clothing. The type of patch I’m referring to is what I think is called an embroidered patch. You’d buy them and then sew them onto jackets, shirts and pants. They were considered cool.
My memory’s not real clear on who was with me this day, but on this particular visit, I think it was Tim. It was either Tim or my friend Rich. After we moved out of the Goodman Avenue house in Fourth grade, my childhood friend Tim (read me) and I reconnected many times over the junior high and high school years.
I had a few dollars from my paper routes so I decided to walk down to Main Street where there was a shop that sold patches, tee shirts and such. In hindsight, I guess it was what’s known today as a ‘head shop’. I do seem to recall they had a glass counter where there were pipes. I was too young and uninformed about such things, so my eyes usually wandered over the cool t-shirts and patches whenever I went to that shop. (And I’m certain they ignored the naked booby posters). I looked and I looked and finally settled on a couple of patches I thought would look cool on my pants.
When I was a young boy, occasionally my Grandma would ask me to thread her needles for her. I had hand sewn things like holes in socks for a number of years, so stitching on a couple of patches was easy to do. That night I sewed my new patches, over the holes.
A few days later I wore those pants. A few of us went downtown just to explore and kill the day in all the cool shops (read me for a laugh). I was feeling ultra cool with my new patches prominently displayed for all the world to take a gander at. When we got back, I remember walking through the front door with one of my friends. I walked down the hallway and into the living room where Mom was standing. She immediately saw the patches on my pants and started quizzing me about them. One was on my rear end and the other on my left shin.
What do you have on your pants?
Just a couple of patches. I had to cover up some holes. This one on my butt is a buckeye leaf. This one on my shin is just a cool number.
Mom was acting accusatory and a little angry. I didn’t understand.
Do you know what that means? Why did you put that on your pants?
What? This number? I don’t know – I thought it looked cool. You can turn it upside down and it’s still the same number. Don’t you think it’s neat?
And at that, she either believed that I didn’t have a clue about the number 69 or she believed she’d be embarrassed to talk about it with me. She kept giving me the evil eye, nonetheless.
Yes, I had purchased and sewn on a number 69 on my pants leg. A geeky, little thirteen year-old was walking around with a 69 patch on him. Oh yeah, I was cool alright. And that buckeye? You guessed it! Turns out, that was a marijuana leaf on my rear end. What else would one expect from a head shop?
Submitted for your approval, Rob Wyatt – cool dude.
No animals were harmed during the writing of this story.