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Mike's letter jacket was blue and gold.  It was an old school jacket- cloth coat with leather sleeves (alternating colours).    It wasn't actually his, of course, because he was no athlete. It was a gift from his father, who was second team all-state in football,  20 years previously and before he joined the Army and before he died in combat (one of thousands who died in the Gulf).  

I know that Mike loved that jacket, because he was careful about keeping it clean and where he wore it and I'm pretty sure I never saw him put it on the ground.  He would laugh when I teased him about what I called "the Antique"  but I could tell it was important to him.   One night, walking home from a concert, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped several degrees, as it tends to do around here.  I hadn't brought a sweater and we when offered to let me wear the jacket I shook my head No, but he put it on me anyway.   We both knew that was a Big Deal.    He never bought me a ring, so that was as close to a promise as we ever exchanged. 

Looking back on it now, years later,  it is hard to imagine why we were both so sentimental about it.   It was just a jacket. It belonged to a man I never met, from a school I never went to. It smelled like a boy's locker room -a mix of cheap aftershave and sweat.    It was also soft as a blanket and made a great pillow.   I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss it.   The jacket I mean.  

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