When I finally ended up purchasing that red Canada Goose Bomber from Amazon, something that was clearly out of my league, Becca wasn’t impressed a bit. She has something against that color, not that she doesn’t wear red but thinks it looks horrible on men. Now I do not wear read either, but the price was hard to beat. Some divine soul had it listed for less than $200, was brand new and not worn. It could very well be stolen, but I had little doubt in my mind that it wouldn’t keep me warm.
“Man, where did you get that jacket from, didn’t they have navy?” Her dad had drawn the final nail in the coffin, or an icing on Becca’s cake if you’d like to hear it that way. Since then, that jacket was neatly tucked inside my suitcase. While a poor student in me still mourned the sudden loss of hundred some dollars, I was more determined to not lose my girlfriend over it.
That Christmas her father got me a similar jacket, but from North Face. It was (of course) navy. I do not know if he really liked me or it was because of his obsession towards Buddhism and Hindu religion, Joe and I were best of buddies. He didn’t mind his pretty daughter dating a bespectacled lean brown guy from a nation 90% of Pittsburg didn’t know existed. I secretly lauded his generosity. I must also mention that he was a big fan of honey hunters back home thanks to National Geographic. While I made it clear numerous times that I was an instinctive acrophobic, and feared bees like an illegal Mexican would fear Trump, he would always call me to help him exterminate yellow jackets that wouldn’t stop building hives in his back patio.
The North Face jacket kept me warm that winter although it wasn’t as plush as the Canada Goose. That was the only jacket I possessed besides the one I had purchased in New Road before I left for America, which wasn’t too flattering. So I kept wearing that navy jacket until May next year before I started wearing shorts. That summer I took classes and worked hard to retain my assistantship at Carnegie Mellon next semester while Becca ended up driving to South Florida. I didn’t meet her much until Labor Day. She looked tanned, thin and for some weird reason - taller. I could also tell something was up with her and even pondered if she did meet someone in Florida, but she was back to her element when semester started.
That thanksgiving, sipping my spiked egg nog in the cold Pennsylvania evening at Becca’s parents’ house, I met Kevin for the first time. He was their neighbor who went to school with Becca and was a grad student at Gainsville. Wearing a brand new Banana Republic cardigan and a pair of shiny brown oxfords, Kevin was someone I would want to be when I became rich. He was tall, well built, had a perfect set of teeth and a well chiseled George Clooney jaw. Not that a lot of money could suddenly make me as perfect as him, at least I could buy some new clothes to match his style.
As Joe and I talked standing in the deck, I, from a corner of my eyes, couldn’t help but notice Becca and her cousins flock around Kevin occasionally bursting into laughter. He wouldn’t stop talking and they wouldn’t bother looking at us. As much as I hated to say, considering my bourgeois looks and frail physique, and a self-esteem at a record low after meeting Kevin, I couldn’t even justify my jealousy. I was too poor to be possessive and too ordinary to be irate. Becca and he looked perfect together, there was a concealed chemistry between them that she wouldn’t have with me even in our most intimate moments. And just like that, I knew why Becca was suddenly indifferent to me during summer.
I took few bites of turkey and left home early when Joe was only seconds away from breaking into a conversation about goddess Kali. As I drove on the wintry street on my 1980 Corolla which billowed a thick black smoke when in operation, I suddenly missed my mother, who always had wise words during the time of distress. I also missed my old house in Kalikasthan which would aptly fit my car in, the house Joe always wanted to visit; the house Becca would never step in.
When I reached home I spent next few hours drinking beer with my neighbor from Sri Lanka, he had few friends that were visiting him from Harrisburg and were eager check out the bars if they were open in Strip District. Before midnight as I headed back towards my apartment, someone suddenly asked –
“Aren’t you going to come with us?”
I turned around and saw Chetna, a young girl with bright eyes from New Delhi who I had been speaking to all that while. She seemed a little confused.
I paused, nodded, and told her that I needed to change.
And boy, change I did.
Moments later when we were crammed in Chetna’s camry driving to the disctrict, she looked at me and smiled.
“Nice Jacket” her eyes sparkled.
“Thank you” I smiled back.
I was wearing the red bomber.