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Smoking Jackets


Apropos of nothing in particular (other than that it came to hand unexpectedly a few weeks ago) I present a caricature of me by Chris Cloutier, a very talented artist/cartoonist who was a friend of mine in the 80s, during the peak of my involvement with the SF fan organization General Technics. The cartoon did me a service, because I thought I grew that slightly ridiculous foliage in 1983, but from the date it looks like I already had it in 1981.

I have never entirely understood smoking jackets, which are fragile, thin, very expensive silk robes used to keep your tobacco ashes from damaging or soiling whatever you had on underneath. As a lifetime nonsmoker I’ve never had that problem, admitting that I have burned holes in my polyester shirts by dropping molten solder gobs or occasionally red-hot lathe chips on them. I therefore wear a sort of retro-techie smoking jacket downstairs in my shop: It’s a dark gray plaid mackinaw, and its job is to keep my other clothes from smoking. Works good, too.


  1. Tom says:

    Uh, This looks a lot like Steampunk before Steampunk. Sure you don’t want to claim that title?

    Solder gobs can be hard on the clothes, but don’t EVER try to catch a soldering iron that you knock off the bench — fast reflexes are not always the best thing to have. I only did it once and quit trying after that.

    1. For years I used to wave my soldering iron in front of my nose to see if it was on. One day I missed. The next day I bought a soldering station with a neon light on the front. My nose thanked me.

    2. I have this annoying habit of being either 20 years early or 20 years late.

      1. Tom says:

        My Father always said he was either a day late or a dollar short. Somehow I often manage to be both.

  2. Bernie Sidor says:

    Oh my gosh, I can relate.

    “burned holes in my polyester shirts by dropping molten solder gobs………” (for me it was my pajamas) and “For years I used to wave my soldering iron in front of my nose to see if it was on.”

    I haven’t built anything that needed a soldering iron in quite a few years but, when i did, I did a lot! It’s funny how somebody can make a remark and a flood of memories come back. Thanks for the memories!

  3. […] awready. I’m a steampunker. (I’ve even had a top hat since 1999, and you’ve seen this. And this.) I’ll deal with […]

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