The Shape-Shifter


“Three years or so ago I walked up to the CVS Pharmacy, about 4 blocks up from our house in Charlotte. (No — it WASN’T to get some more DayQuil!) While walking the aisles, I literally RAN into an older black man. What was odd immediately was that there was NO ONE in the aisle the split second BEFORE! I had turned my head away for a quick second, and then there he was! He was oddly built — VERY slight arms and legs — sinewy even — with a large, Rafalko-like barrel chest. His hair was NOT gray, but a VERY shiny silver — not just his head, but his fingers, the back of his neck, and his exposed chest hairs.

I apologized for bumping into him – he looked me RIGHT in the eyes with the most penetrating gaze I’ve ever seen — INSTANTLY hypnotic. I could NOT break my gaze away. I just stood there, transfixed by his stare, to the point that everything in the peripherey went a bit out of focus, if you know what I mean. It was then that his face — just for the briefest instant — turned into that of a wolf…

He then continued by me, and I stood there, tryin’ to shake it off. I continued my shopping, by then convincing myself that this was just some kind of alcohol flashback or SOMEthing! As I proceeded to the checkout, he was in the process of paying the cashier on the left. I paid for my 1-2 items to the cashier on the right — he was MAYBE 15-20 seconds ahead of me out the door. Right as he was stepping through the electric door, he looked over his left shoulder and shot me a glance — EVERY hair on my body stood up with what felt like static electricity!

I shook it off again, and proceeded out the door myself — again about 15-20 seconds behind him, and a bit “tentative” at that! When I got outside — NOTHING in EITHER direction! I looked left and right about 4 times — it was THEN that I looked about 300 yards (NO exaggeration!) down the sidewalk to the left, and there he was, just ambling along — Jesse Owens couldn’t have done THAT! I don’t think I will EVER live long enough to forget that incident…You’all can believe that or not, but I KNOW what I saw!”


To please my wife…

So, to please my wife (for a change!) I agreed that it would be O.K. if we didn’t put one of my BEAUTIFUL, marvelously functional, VINTAGE refrigerators [pictured] in the kitchen; instead, we went to Pacific Sales and bought a fancy new LG (Made in Korea) refrigerator for $2,800.00. Got delivered this AM, they took all the plastic off, plugged it in – DOA!

Meanwhile, the crappy 1995 Amana had already been loaded in the truck to haul it away; they put the crappy 2013 LG right next to it — how appropriate! Now, my 1955 GE is in the hole, cooling away — as it has for the last 57 years! Only sayin’…

[A Viking refrigerator was ordered as a replacement.]

So this is delivery NUMBER THREE; the guy that showed up looked like an prison escapee — 3 days’ worth of beard, dirty jacket, filthy hands… I check the back of the truck to make SURE it’s the right refrigerator; all good THERE at least! I’ve got everything moved out of the way, so I show him the “trail” that he’s gonna have to take.

They put it on a hand truck and start going through our narrow side “alley”. Despite my warnings, they continue to get close to the stucco on the side of the house; sure enough, when they turn the corner, they scrape the vertical handle “end caps” on the stucco! They get it in the house – guy starts tearing out all the Styrofoam, which is held in w/blue tape. Makes a colossal mess out of THAT project, all the while getting the inside walls of the fridge filthy/greasy. He half-assed gets that out, leaving about as much Styrofoam/tape IN the box/on the racks as he removes. Then I notice that the back of his right hand is bleeding a LOT! I point it out to him, he waves it off but grabs a paper towel off of the counter. After he leaves and I start in CORRECTLY and COMPLETELY removing all the packing materials, I notice blood ALL OVER the inside of the refrigerator and freezer – NICE! Took me an HOUR to clean up the inside of the box, and disinfect the “Biohazard” areas…Jesus CHRIST!

If I hadn’t blown up like a poisoned dog, I’d be keeping this jacket

If I hadn’t blown up like a poisoned dog, I'd be keeping this jacket

All right – Up today is my #1 favorite leather jacket, and I’ve had a PILE of ‘em! Bought this one in ~1985 in Charlotte NC – they actually had a Wills & Geiger store there! Size is 44R, but I gotta say, this one is great because the sleezes are long! At the time, I was 6’2” and 190 pounds (Ah, THOSE were the days!) and took a 42L or 44L jacket.

I immediately started customizing this one – I shipped the jacket to Stuart Clurman at Lost Worlds, where he had his people replace the collar with a New Old Stock Vintage Surplus Mouton Collar – WHAT a difference! Color was quite a few shades lighter, and the mouton was MUCH thicker.

After getting it back, I had my local tailor sew in a Mindanao Phillipine Islands silk “Escape Map”, as well as two “Blood Chits”, leaving the tops of each open so I could use them as “dump pockets”. This was one of my truly “better ideas”, as I’ve used those pockets a babillion times – you will too!

Finally, I bought the correct metal stencils from a stationary store and stenciled “U.S.N.” on the back of the collar in white leather dye. Maybe I’m drinking my own bathwater here, but I think it came out KILLER!

If I hadn’t blown up like a poisoned dog in the last 5 years, I’d be keeping this jacket until I reached room temperature, and letting my wife worry about getting rid of it! Alas, barring a debilitating disease, I’ll prolly never fit in this again, so it’s time to send it down the road….

No damage WHATSOEVER to the leather – Goatskin is some tough stuff! I mean – how many “scun up” goats do you see walkin’ around, I wanna know? …Rayon lining is in excellent condition, single inside pocket/snap is fine – comes from a non-smoking household, so there are absolutely NO bad odors whatsoever! I would hand this jacket to your Mom to wear with absolutely no embarrassment or apologies!

Willis & Geiger was one of the original suppliers of these jackets during WWII and Korean conflicts – they continued to make a premium product that was meant to last two lifetimes! The leather even smells good too – like ambrosia! I moved to SoCal in 2003, and I haven’t worn it since – it’s been in a garment bag. My buddies back East are bitchin’ about the cold weather, so it occurred to me to go ahead and put my three “cold weather” jackets up on eBay to “do my part” for you poor, shivering sumbitches!

Grooming the Rug

Grooming the Rug In my middle age, I find that I get distracted by “side projects” as I’m walking from one room to the next; example: yesterday I was getting ready to vacuum the LR rug, when I noticed all these “strings” of material sticking out in various places, “disturbing” the visual palette of the pattern(s) – a gray tread impinging into the black “wave area” of the rug in a dozen places, and black threads impinging into the gray areas. So I sat down w/my glasses on and a pair of scissors and spent a half an hour “grooming” the rug – that was one of those stupid “projects” that I’ve been MEANING to do since we BOUGHT that rug in Phoenix 3 years ago! Then I spent a half hour wiping down the cover of the hot tub outside; I vacuumed the upstairs patio furniture on the balcony; I wiped down the BBQ grille granite “island”; I walked through the various stone-covered areas in the back and side of the house and picked “nits” – the little pieces of bark and other plant debris that the gardeners don’t bother with – next thing *I* knew, it was lunch-time! Then I noticed that the litter box, that I had set OUT to do at ~9:30, when I was distracted by the LR rug, STILL hadn’t been done yet; did that, walked out through the garage to get to the trash bin outside the garage, noticed a transmission fluid spot under the SUV, moved it out onto the street so I could scrub the spot off w/BrakeKleen and a stiff brush, which I did; then I noticed a bunch of black widow/brown widow webs (they are an EPIDEMIC here in SoCal – literally ALL around the base of the house, which is stacked stone), so I got out my handheld Dyson vacuum and vacuumed all THOSE up; then I noticed that it was time to drive up to Corona Del Mar for my 3PM haircut appointment – then the day was basically OVER, and there were STILL projects that I had set out to do first thing in the AM that weren’t done. Reminds me of my old saying: “Every day I wake up with NOTHING to do, and by the end of the day I haven’t finished HALF of it…” : -)) Soooo…Two projects left over from yesterday that I will do FIRST thing after I shower/shave…Wait a MINUTE – is that a crack in the stucco on the wall next to the pool? I GOTTA go fill that in w/concrete repair caulk right NOW…