The Jacket

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The summer after I graduated from high school (I was just 17, you know what I mean) was an adventurous one for me. I made it through high school – amazing! It is time to partayyyy! But I had to get a job, which I did, working at a savings & loan as a teller. I started paying some rent to my folks for letting me stay under their roof.

I honestly don’t know exactly how this happened, but I started dating Al (short for Alfonso), who was sergeant in arms of a Detroit motorcycle club, The Drifters. Well I guess I do know how – my girlfriends and I all hung out with guys in Allen Park who drove bikes (but weren’t in clubs), and Al was the older brother of one of those dudes. Al’s Drifter’s name was “Parts,” because his head was all in parts during his club initiation. I didn’t want to know…. Al was actually a really nice guy and fun to be around; he drove a ’69 Panhead and I got to ride a lot during that summer. We went to the clubhouse over on Schoolcraft quite often; we rode with the club to pig roasts and hang outs with other clubs in parks all over Detroit. I liked feeling menacing towards “citizens.” It was a blast. On one occasion, the Drifters stopped traffic in a big park in Dearborn – they were making everyone get out of their vehicles and do a little dance, and then letting them go. Sure, it’s fun until the cops come.

Did Al know I was 17? I don’t know. One really beastly hot afternoon I was hanging around Al’s garage while he was working on his bike, and he asked me to be his “Old Lady.” I thought that meant something like “going steady,” and I said, “Yeah, ok.” He hugged and kissed me and was really happy for the rest of the day. I had no idea of what I had just agreed to. We grilled outside that night and had a couple of friends over for dinner, and Al mentioned the old lady thing…dummy me, I still didn’t realize the level of commitment I had signed up for that day. Al started asking me that night if I was going to buy a leather. I still wasn’t catching his drift…I was to become a Drifter.

The following day, I went to the mall with some girlfriends and purchased a red burgundy to-the-knees leather. I had some money left over after paying my parents my room and board for that month. It was a really cool coat – totally 1970s for sure. I did mention the Old Lady thing to my friends, but evidently they were as clueless as I was about biker lingo.

That evening it had cooled off enough to wear a jacket, and I wore my neato jacket over to Al’s. He looked at me as I walked in and said, “Is that your idea of a leather?” rather incredulously. I go, “Yeah, it was on sale, too.” He said, “You were supposed to get a riding leather, like mine.” Apparently a patch saying “Property of Parts” would be emblazoned across the back of my black motorcycle leather. “You said you’d be my Old Lady,” Al yelled. Our friend, Pete, was sitting in the kitchen, nursing a beer. “I don’t want nothing to do with this,” Pete said, and shuffled out the door. I said, “Property of? You’re kidding me, right?” “No. You said you’d be my Old Lady.” “Well, I am too young to be an Old Lady, apparently,” I said, and walked out the back door.

I guess Al was pretty pissed off – that’s what I heard, anyway. I heard his bike (that Panhead had a very distinctive sound) going down my parents’ street quite a few times. That made me a little nervous, but thankfully he left me alone and free to get into more stupid trouble with the next character I let into my life.

But at least I didn’t become Property of Parts.

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