The Cardigan - 02.20.98

This beginnings of this story took place about 5 months ago when I purchased a wool cardigan sweater at a local thrift store. It was too warm in the year to be wearing such an article of clothing, but it was in excellent condition and very comfortable (although a bit dorky looking). The light brown sweater had big, wooden buttons on the front, corduroy patches on the elbows, and a couple pockets that were too small to fit much of anything in. The best part about it was the three-letter monogram on the left part of the chest.

When it started getting colder, I brought it out and started wearing it once a week or more. It quickly became one of my favorite articles of clothing and I would routinely wear it into the evening as I sat in my apartment and read a book or at my computer typing away. The wool wasn't scratchy in the slightest and it seemed to comform to my body as if it were tailored.

Just last week, during the midst of the coldest part of the year, we had a couple days that seemed almost mysterious for winter. The sun came out full force for several days in a row and all the snow and ice that lingered were soon melted. The temperatures got up to almost fifty degrees during mid-day and settled down just enough at night to produce a dust of frost on car windshields.

During one of these days, my newfound sweater was just the right clothing to wear outside. The sun was shining, but the slight breeze and chill in the air made it a little cool. Coupled with a pair of courderoys and a short-sleeve button-down shirt, I headed downtown to check out a couple stores.

After stopping at a music store and a used book shop, I started to head back to my car. I had just bought a great CD and I was getting anxious to return home and hear it. When I was just over a block from my car, I heard someone behind me yell out, "You godamn thief!" Startled, I kept on walking, knowing that I hadn't done anything wrong.

Just seconds later I heard the sound of loud footsteps right behind me and a hand on my right shoulder. Very upset, I spun around. Before I could utter a word, a guy about the same age as me was poking me in the chest and calling me a thief over and over. When he took a breath, I quickly asked him what the hell his problem was while pulling the receipt for my CD of my pocket.

He settled down a bit, but again stuck out his finger and pointed to the monogram on my sweater. He explained to me that it had been stolen out of the drier when he was doing laundry in his dormatory at the end of the last school year. The sweater had been given to him by his now-deceased grandpa a couple years back and he had broken down when he found it was gone. At first I wanted to ask him why he was drying a wool sweater, but then decided against it.

By this time, a couple people were looking in our direction, wondering whether we were going to get into a fight. Just as he was getting to say something else, I interjected and told him exactly what I knew about it; I had bought it at a thrift store for 3 dollars several months back because I thought it looked cool and had been wearing it since.

I must have sounded pretty convincing in my explanation, because he seemed to calm down quite a bit. He told me that he was sorry for shoving me, but he had quite a bit of emotions tied to the piece of clothing that I was wearing. Before I had a chance to tell him that I wasn't upset, he pulled out his wallet and said that he'd give me 25 dollars for it. He had a sad, reminicent look in his eyes and with this, I finally knew that his story was for real.

Even though I had found myself very attached to that sweater, I began peeling it off almost as soon after he had finished speaking. As I handed it over, I saw him looking at worn elbow patches and monogram the way that someone would look at an old family photograph. After carefully folding it up and tucking it under his arm, he held out the 25 dollars for me to take.

Although it would have been quite a healthy profit, I couldn't bring myself to take it. I felt like I had somehow reunited two distant people and the money just didn't seem as valuable. He insisted that I take something for him being so rude to me, so I got two dollars out of my wallet and exchanged them for the five that he was holding out. I had my three dollars back that I had paid for it, and that was enough. After a thank-you, we turned around and headed our seperate directions.

On the way back to my car, I felt the cold set in without any other covering on my upper body. I sat in the car with the heater running for awhile before I pulled out of my spot and drove down the street. I looked at the CD sitting in the passenger seat and suddenly wasn't so intent on listening to it. I was headed to the thrift store to find another sweater.