Leather-clad, purple-haired, top-hatted teen

The large fourteen-year old is a creature of habit, or something like that.  Three halloweens ago I bought him a long black leather jacket at a thrift store to top off his pirate costume.  It’s a woman’s coat (don’t tell him), size XL.  There is some fancy embossing, plus suede and other black trim on the wide shoulders, cuffs, and lapels.  Very ’80’s.  Perfect for a pirate.  He loved it and wanted to wear it to school.  No way,  I don’t want it to get wrecked.  But did I ever wear it? No.  So finally I gave in and he has literally worn the darn thing every day since.  That was almost 2 years ago.

Between the left lapel and the shoulder is a growing collection of buttons.  They say things like “Guns don’t kill people, gaping holes in vital organs kill people”, and “You need a hug”, and “May the force be with you”.   One button has a picure of Darth Vader and it says “You have failed me for the last time.” Scary.  My favorite: “I like poetry, long walks on the beach, and poking dead things with a stick”, and then there’s “I wish an apple a day would keep morons away”.  Charming.  Others are just little images; an owl, Abraham Lincoln wearing a top hat, a cupcake, a smiling cloud, a skull with antennae, a pistol, a bean and a grain of rice shaking hands.  This is him.  Tough and sweet, a mixed bag.  A fourteen year old boy.  Joy and angst.

A few months ago he added a top hat to his look.  Last summer at the county fair he bought a belt with a red and black Cadillac emblem buckle.  He has worn it every day since, and the cheap-o belt part is in shreds.  I promised him a new belt this week.  There’s a  little leather shop in an alley way in the next town over, tucked in with a head shop, a bike shop, and a music school.   The other day,  sunny and bright,  my mom and I cut through the alley on the way to the fabric store.  The leather store was open.  Large, luminous, musical gourds hung like lanterns outside the music school.  An ancient vine crawled up the alley walls, thick, gnarled, and naked.  I made a mental note to return with my camera, and Ivan.

Tonight I remembered my promise about the belt.  I called the leather store.  They were open for another hour.  My mom was making dinner, shrimp scampi and broccolini!  “We’ll be right back!”  Ivan and I jumped in the car and headed east.  In less than ten minutes we were in the alley. 

The sign on the heavy wooden door was made of leather, very intricate.  Inside the dark shop a man with long silver hair sat hunched over his sewing machine.  He was friendly and helpful and clad in leather, with sincere, bright blue eyes.  There was a pristine and gleaming purple and silver Harley Davidson parked inside the tiny shop, adorned with leather gloves.  From the low ceiling and on the walls hung exquisite leather handbags, made by this man’s wife.  A magical, funny little shop.   No cow leather here.  Buffalo hide from the Shoshone tribe and deer hide and others.  All wild skins, he claimed. 

Ivan chose a black buffalo hide belt, and the man expertly attached it to the Cadillac belt buckle, and made holes in just the right places.  Ivan was impressed.  “That tool makes perfect holes.” 

“That’s what you get in a custom shop.  This belt will last you twenty years”, said the man.  He was cool.  We bought a pair of gloves, too, because we were smitten, and because Ivan needed/wanted a pair.  Insulated black leather, of course.  The man demonstrated for Ivan how to fold his gloves and put them in his pocket every time he took them off, because otherwise they would disappear, he said.  I loved that. 

“Thank You, Mom” said the boy in black, as we headed back to the car.  “You are so welcome, Ivan.” 

So now I have a leather clad, top-hatted, buttoned up teen, whose pants will not fall down for another twenty years, and he is as cute as a purple-haired kid can be.

About Zahara

gardener, cyclist, student, mom,
This entry was posted in daily Life, Love, teens and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Leather-clad, purple-haired, top-hatted teen

  1. delicious writing. enjoyed. bless

  2. Hippie Cahier says:

    That is one fabulous kid and a pretty darned groovy mom who “gets” him. I love the buttons, even the Darth Vader one.

    Your title reminded me of a Dar Williams song about an 80s-ish punk teen who ends up meeting a girlfriend in heaven when she appears, “leather pants, magenta hair, and sayin’ nasty things….”

    These kids are among those I miss most from my time in the classroom. I remember one who wore the same brown corduroy pants every day. (Somehow someone managed to keep them clean enough.He had fabulous parents, too.) If you sit and listen to them, they are so very fascinating.

    Congratulations to Ivan on his new accessory.

    • Zahara says:

      Hippie, love your thoughtful comment. Dar Williams? I’ll have to look that one up, I’m intrigued. And yes, Ivan is a great kid, (not that he doesn’t drive me crazy sometimes); he has many friends, his teachers like him, and he works hard at school. If Ivan had his way, and didn’t have me to harass him about it, he too would wear the same jeans and t-shirt daily.

  3. Linda Lewis says:

    Letting Ivan be what he wants to be is a tribute to you, Mom. Sometimes that’s a challenge.

    • Zahara says:

      Thank you, Linda. I am proud of Ivan for being unique. I prefer to blend in, but he has no problem with “designing his own character”. I think he gets it partly from some of the video games he plays and from his Dungeons and Dragons habit, where they create themselves.

  4. lucky kid to have a mom like you, one who doesn’t push him to change.

  5. huffygirl says:

    You must be a pretty cool mom!

  6. I adore this post. I got sucked right in.

    Ivan and I would have been great friends if he had been around in the 80s. Love the button sayings.

    I like knowing a mom a few years ahead of me. I’m taking notes. 😉

  7. afrankangle says:

    As Margaret said, the post sucked me in. 14 year olds are who they are, interestingly, you’ll probably observe several transformations in the next 10 years! Have a good week.

  8. TheIdiotSpeaketh says:

    As the parent of a 14yr old myself, I can tell ya….You got a great, unique kid there! Have a great day! 🙂

  9. I like those buttons! I have a bunch of buttons like that hanging on a ribbon in my car.

    • Zahara says:

      Well then, Ivan is in good company.Buttons are fun, aren’t they? There’s another I didn’t mention ’cause I didn’t get it at the time of posting, but upon closer inspection realized it was a stick figure on rollerskates carrying a pair of scissors. Lovely. I much prefer the cupcake button and the “You need a hug” button.

  10. Posky says:

    I had a bunch of weirdo freaks like your son as my friends in high school. They usually tend to grow up to be the best people and were always among my favorite friends.

  11. duckofindeed says:

    I am jealous that your son is so much cooler than me. I can’t compete. I love the “gaping holes in vital organs kill people” thing. Funny and quite true.
    Speaking of leather, I once really wanted this leather (looking) coat in a magazine that looked like something from Kingdom Hearts. Actually, I still want it, but it’s $120, and I really can’t go out in public with it on. I must lie in wait for a sale.

  12. Val Erde says:

    Hi – I’m over from Margaret’s blog.
    Apart from my being female and late fifties, I think your son and I could’ve been twins. Though I don’t think I ever had a top hat. Not to say I never wanted one though…!
    Great post, you’ve a brill sense of humour.

  13. Sandi Ormsby says:

    Purple hair- rad!

    I keep trying to get my 7 year old to do “cool” hair and at least stick it up a little…he’s so not like that. Flat as can be, but every so often, he’ll ask for gel and a blowdryer!


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