By Tim Hayes
Having saved up enough money from my meager college newspaper salary, I strode down the main street of the town, stepping confidently into the modest thoroughfare’s main men’s shop – a man on a mission.
A mission to purchase a letterman’s jacket, with a lined wool outerpiece, leather sleeves, in the university’s colors, with the school mascot name on the back and my name embroidered over the breast. I’d been lusting after one of those for three years, and finally had the dough and the will to pull the trigger and get it. This men’s store was the only place in town that sold them.
The owner, a world-weary old galoot who’d seen snotty college punks like me come in and out of his place for decades, greeted me with thinly veiled contempt. But even that veil came off when I told him what I wanted.
“Are you on a team?” he barked.
“No, but what does that have to do with it?” I retorted. Not the smoothest negotiator back then, I will admit.
“You can’t get a letterman’s jacket if you haven’t earned a letter in a sport!”
“I’m not asking for a letter to be put on the jacket – I just want the jacket, and I have cash to pay for it right here!”
“You’re refusing to sell me a jacket, that I can pay for in full right now? Is that even legal?”
The old bastard never did let me buy that jacket. That was more than 30 years ago. Fast forward to today. As most of us do, I’ve filled out a bit since those college days. Wonderful marriage, big mortgage, raised a great family, lots of bills, love my work, life’s pretty good, all things considered.
Every now and again, though, when you stop and think about it, the finish line’s starting to come into view, if you know what I mean. When you’re 20, 30, even 40, the concept of a mid-life crisis sounds sort of far-fetched. What’s the big deal?
Sneaking up on one’s mid-50s, though, the idea starts shifting into sharper focus. If life’s a football game, you’re easily in the third quarter, Charlie. We’ve all heard the clichés – guys go nuts and buy a Corvette, or think they can sneak around, or take crazy risks when they hit middle age. They’ll do anything to either deny that they’re getting older, or to relive their youth.
My solution took care of whatever mid-life crisis may have been creeping up on me. I went online and designed my own letterman’s jacket, with a lined wool outerpiece, leather sleeves, in my alma mater’s colors, with the school mascot name on the back, my name embroidered over the breast — AND a freaking LETTER. Just like I always wanted. One of the greatest gifts I ever gave myself, if I do say so.
Every time I put it on, I feel like I’m back in college. I’m not 55 any more – hey, I’m not even 25 yet. The mid-life crisis “dragon” gets slayed, peacefully, creatively, and a hell of a lot more cheaply than trying to get a Corvette or a girlfriend. Neither of which I would get – or want – anyway.
Copyright 2016 Transverse Park Productions LLC and Tim Hayes Consulting