I was in San Francisco on a sabbatical in 1990-91. I'd spent quite a bit of time in the City in recent summers, but now that I lived there, I became more and more aware of how common leather jackets were on the street.
In fact, I had a fantasy that if I didn't get a leather jacket soon, I'd be 86'd from San Francisco. Some burly guy would come up to me and say, ``I'm sorry, Sir, but we have a dress code here. If you don't get yourself a leather jacket soon, we're going to have to ask you to leave the city.''
I saw a place on Polk Street advertising biker jackets for $88. I kind of liked the idea of wearing one of those jackets with lots of chains and elaborate flaps, which so many of my friends in the SM community had. But when I tried it on, I realized that the weight made it comparable to the armor that medieval knights wore. In fact, I thought, if I actually were a biker and wore a jacket like this, I'd need a squire to boost me up onto my chopper.
Finally I found a bomber jacket on sale for $100 at Headlines (also on Polk Street). It was light enough so that I thought I could probably wear it in Honolulu in the winter. And in fact I do that.
I get a lot of comments about it in Honolulu, whereas in San Francisco it just helps me to blend in.
The leather jacket helps me step into a persona I've had for a long time now. I call this persona the Bad-ass Biker.
I've never ridden a motorcycle in my life, and never intend to, but there are times when I start thinking of myself as being a big burly guy. My posture and the way I walk and talk actually change. It's partly a matter of playacting, but also something that I sometimes do without consciously realizing it. I've actually had people ask me if I'm a biker.
This biker image is ruined, though, by the Birkenstocks I wear on my feet. The combination of the leather jacket and Birkenstocks are definitely a strange image. (It's no wonder that some people describe me as eccentric!)
Furthermore, the Birkenstocks sabotage my attempt to blend into the crowd in San Francisco. Whereas any sort of sandals are quite normal on the other side of the Bay, especially in Berkeley, in San Francisco sandals are worn almost exclusively by tourists.
And the Birkenstocks, which are actually quite expensive, look like something that some homeless guy might wear. I sometimes think that people on the street in San Francisco are looking at me a bit apprehensively, as if afraid that I'm going to approach them and ask if they can spare a dollar.
I like my Birkenstocks, though. I first started wearing them more than ten years ago, when I was having some pain in my foot. I don't know whether they actually helped or not, but I find them a form of footwear that works for me, whereas most shoes do not. Even in San Francisco I wore them all year round, at least in the daytime. But during the winter, I did reluctantly compromise by wearing socks as well.
May 15, 1996