In college I bought a black rain jacket. It wasn't warm, but it kept me dry and safe from the chilling wind.
I saw it on my way to men's clothing section in the rear of the store. I noticed the dark, water-resistant material hanging on a rack among a collection of tan sport coats, and came to a halt. It was as if some wise man had chosen the black jacket and, on the way the cashier, passed the rack of sport coats—and was confronted by a demon.
"Your friends will make fun of you for wearing that shiny dark fiasco," the demon probably said. "Leave the jacket here, and take home one of these classic tan sport coats to fit in better and make business connections."
Perhaps not a wise man at all, he then opted for the sport coat, leaving me the opportunity to learn from his mistakes.
Here I stood, faced with the same decision. Buy the jacket I don't need, or surrender to the captivating sheen of the protective garment, a garment that may leave me heartbroken in the end.
While the wandering businessman must have concluded a black lightweight rain jacket pales in comparison to a classy tan sport coat, I could not follow his lead. We are different men, facing different challenges. I needed to follow my own path.
This jacket spoke to me, and I bought it.
The rain-jacket and I were inseparable. As soon as the wind picked up and the temperature dropped in early October, my guardian encapsulated my body and came off only when I slept. For months, I was kept safe from swarms of rain drops and armies of slicing winds.
I don't remember the last moment my defender and I had together. Looking through my bedroom one fateful morning, I mumbled "I know I put you right here. Where are you?"
It was lost. Did I leave it in my car? Girlfriend's apartment? Parent's house? I looked up and down, under and over, in closets and outside. Opened washing machines and through backpacks.
My black rain jacket was gone, in secret, as if the Sport Coat Demon had retrieved his instrument.
Maybe the demon placed it on another coat rack where it didn't belong, in another shop, where a kid who doesn't think he needs a black rain jacket will soon realize he does.