by Steve Goldfinger
Kafka might have put it this way: One day, in his thirteenth year, Stephen Goldfinger looked into the mirror and saw he was a scorpion.
I was a Scorpion all right, with an upper case “S,” a member of our Brooklyn softball team. The incredible jacket reflected in my mirror was made of dark purple felt, and the word SCORPION was emblazoned in white on the back. It had a six-inch image of a white scorpion with Steve written below it on the front. And when it was turned inside out–mirabile dictu! Behold the purple lettering and SCORPION image now on white satin!
I never did know where the name came from. The only other scorpions in Brooklyn were in the insectarium at the zoo. My remembrance is that Brooklyn’s indigenous wild life consisted primarily of sparrows, squirrels, cockroaches, and ants. It wasn’t until later that I learned that the image on the jacket wasn’t really a scorpion at all. The guy we bought them from couldn’t find a suitable picture of a scorpion and went with a cut-out of a crab instead.
We had after-school matches with such teams as the Navajos, the Stallions, the Dukes, the Knights, and a few others. Most were played on the cement softball field of the Avenue X park. Routinely assigned to right field and ninth in the batting order, I was not a very good player.
But I loved my Scorpion jacket. I wore it in all kinds of weather and to all occasions. Told it would not look that great against the backdrop of Princeton’s ivy-covered towers, I finally left it at home when I went to college. Mostly because it was looking fairly smudged and seedy.
I couldn’t find it when I returned home that winter. My mother had given it to our weekly house cleaner. His name was Marion though she sometimes referred to him, not without affection, as the schvartza.
Now hanging in my closet is a jacket of a different sort–a Princeton reunion jacket. Each class has its own distinctive one to put on while carrying on at reunion time. Designed by a class member and purchased the year after graduation, there only commonality is their garish displays of orange and black, often out-screaming circus frippery. I remember being told, in 1956, that my $45 purchase would be different–a sedate evening jacket, silk-lined and suitable for fine dining, theater, ocean cruises, and the like.
When it arrived, I was aghast. Before me was a beautifully cut dinner jacket, its soft white exterior studded with vertical lines of tiny running orange tigers alternating with lines of ’56es.
It still hangs in my closet. Someday, my kids will have to get rid of it. Just how, I don’t know. They may burn it or bury it or frame it. But give it away? Who would ever wear it?
Since joining BOLLI two years ago, after a long career in medicine, Steve has been exploring his artistic side. He has been active in both the Writers Guild and CAST (Creativity in Acting, Storytelling, and Theatre) as well as the Book Group.