Junior high. Anyone who knew me knew that I was not bringing a lot of swagger to the table. "Gawky" would be a prime understatement. I had about seven annoying tics, including a nervous laugh which occupied the end of fifty percent of my statements ("I am going to walk to the store - heh-heh"). I had absolutely no play with the ladies - even the girl I liked in seventh grade, who knew I liked her and liked me back, nothing every happened because I lived in terror and was afraid to act upon it (I wrote her a "secret admirer" letter which gave enough clues to make it clear it was me, including that I was a twin. Even Shaggy could've figured out that mystery by himself. And I'm talking about the dancehall singer). In short, I was a mess.
Drastic measures needed to be taken. My friend, Josh, who could also be argued was not refined with the ladies at that time, had one weapon that brought him attention - a Lakers Starter jacket which he wore everywhere, every day. It could be 122 degrees outside and that jacket was getting worn. It was his Indiana Jones hat, his Excalibur. The girls liked the jacket, and, at the least, it was a conversation starter (what he did with that, that's another story). As imitation was not only flattery back then, it was necessity, I pestered my mother, until one Christmas, I got this:
Back in 1984, a Starter jacket was not quite at the level of owning Air Jordans, but it gave you some street cred (as much as you can get street cred in Santa Monica, at a mostly white-bread school that almost made Izod shirts the school uniform). It was something I could call my own, gave me my own identity, and, yes, I wore the hell out of that jacket, with the white stripes turning grey with repeated wearings (I could never get the white to return to those stripes, no matter how hard I tried). Did it get me more play with the ladies? Not really. I was still a mess. Hell, I'm still a mess, although the nervous laugh is mostly gone, and I don't cover my mouth when I speak (but I'm not wearing industrial-strength braces, so that might have something to do with that one).
The ironic thing is, the mid-80s SOX look has made a comeback, falling into the world of ironic hipster couture (God, hipsters drive me nuts, and I speak as someone who is in the periphery of that culture). Most of the people who wear that logo on a shirt now probably don't even know who Harold Baines and Carlton Fisk were (hell, they probably can't name a player on the team now). If I went on eBay and bought this jacket again, it wouldn't be in support to my baseball team, it would be an ironic gesture, harkening back to a simpler time that has been romanticized far too much (in short, the music was overrated, Reagan wasn't as great a president as the Republicans would make you believe, and satin jackets were considered premium fashion). I still want to get an old SOX T-shirt, though. I love that logo.
Addendum (9/26/11): My brother, while helping my mother clean out a storage area, has found my Starter jacket. Surprisingly, it still fits (in the arms; a little tight in the chest). I have now given the jacket to my godson so that he can wear it. Let's see if the tradition continues...