It’s that time of year again; time to wash The Jacket. Which should have illuminated capital letters.
The Jacket is a plain jean jacket…adorned with somewhere around a hundred pins and buttons. In normal years I wear it at winter SF cons (it’s a bit too warm in the summer). Fully equipped, it weighs in at about eight pounds. I have had people joke about it stopping a bullet. Washing it involves taking off all of those pins and buttons (and the buttons are extra secured with earring backs). Then putting them all back on. I don’t do this performance that often, but then I don’t wear it that much.
I collected pins as a teenager, stopped, then started up again in my late thirties. The curated part of the collection includes cynical statements, expressions of my political views, multiple pride pins, Star Trek pins, pins advertising my friends books, cons I go to, numerous other fandom pins and either too many or not enough Doctor Who pins and buttons, depending on who you ask.
It attracts attention.
It’s my treasures on display.
That One Pin
So, a few years ago, I was at a convention wearing The Jacket (which, by the way, gets photo requests much like cosplay). I catch people looking at my chest and then going “No, I was reading the pins.” I believe them.
I forget what exact question was asked, but it was something about the most precious of the pins.
I point to one small, faded, worn pin. It’s the Doctor Who official logo pin from the 1980s. It’s literally partially faded, because, well, I wore it so much in college.
I explained what it was.
The person reacted in horror, “Why are you wearing it?”
It was clear that to them the idea of wearing something which might be valuable (incidentally, it’s not. In mint condition, which it’s far from, this particular pin sells for about $40. It’s a mass produced item that was sold in large numbers) was absolutely terrible.
I disarmed them with “What else would I do with it?” and moved on.
They were obviously the kind of person who buys action figures and keeps them in their original packaging.
They saw me with the jacket and figured I was a Collector.
Which I am.
Treasures Hidden, Treasures Revealed
“What else would I do with it?” The way to preserve an item like this is to put it in a box and never let it see the light of day.
At that point, what’s the point of owning it?
To me, what that pin represents is lifelong membership in a fandom. It’s a membership badge. If I don’t wear it, then it doesn’t serve its purpose.
To that other person, it’s a Collectible that must be protected and preserved. It might be ironic that I’m the one with the archaeology degree.
There is no point owning something precious if you never let anyone know about it. No point owning art if you don’t hang it on the walls. I know some people are going to disagree, but I’m not going to budge.
I suppose what I’m saying here?
Use the good china. Wear grandma’s jewelry or grandpa’s cufflinks. Hold your treasures up to the light.
Or what are they there for in the first place?
Now, time to put all the pins back on the jacket and make sure none of them need new backs. Then it will be ready for the virtual convention tomorrow.
And for the real conventions of the future. With that pin firmly in place.