Wednesday, February 23, 2011

the. men. swim. (m)

Sometime around 1984 or earlier, I saw a coat I loved and had to have....a long, black shearling coat.  Black leather on the outside, black shearling inside.  Shawl collar and cuffs.  I LOVED this coat.  It was in Ann Taylor in Boston and I absolutely coveted it.  The price, if I recall correctly, was $1,200.  To me, that's alot to pay for a coat now and it was even more outrageous (to me) back then.  I couldn't pay that.  I just couldn't do it even though I was gainfully employed and had no children.

I couldn't get that coat off my mind. I envisioned walking into restaurants wearing it and heads turning and women whispering, "Where'd she get that coat?  It's FABULOUS!"  I imagined wearing red lipstick and diamond stud earrings.  Very sophisticated.

Still, I couldn't bring myself to pay full price.  Instead, I enlisted my friend Heidi and together, we stalked Ann Taylor.  "Heidi," I'd say, "want to go for a walk at lunch?"  She would roll her eyes and say, "I'm not going to Ann Taylor AGAIN.  Buy the coat already!"

Sometime, just before Christmas that year, I overhead a clerk saying that there was going to be a sale soon.  My head snapped around like Linda Blair in The Exorcist.  "A sale...will this coat be marked down?," I asked.  The saleswoman looked at me as if I were pond scum.  "I don't know," she sniffed.

Heidi and I came up with a plan.  I would put the coat on hold in one store location under my maiden name and at another under my soon-to-be married name.  We watched the prices everyday as if we were on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. 

One day, the Newbury Street location announced a sale.  My coat was half price!  I flew out of the office, bought the coat and wore it back to work.

On the long walk back to the office, I noticed the coat was very heavy and difficult to move in.  I was sweating by the time I got back to the Prudential Center despite the fact it was 20 degrees outside.

A few days later, on Christmas Eve, I wore it to my brother Phil's house.  My mother said it made me look "like the side of a barn."  I guess it wasn't flattering.  Or comfortable.

I wore it a few more times after that.  I had to move the steering wheel in the car to accommodate the extra bulk when wearing it while driving. 

My coat had become a royal pain in the ass.

I still have it.  I can't give it up.  I worked too hard to get it.  So, it sits in a storage closet at home.  It does, however, still fit.

A few days ago, I saw another shearling coat.  This one was soft, supple, shorter, lighter.  It was magnificent.  My friend, Penny, was wearing it.  Along with her new, 5-carat diamond ring.  All I noticed was the coat.  I decided THIS was the coat for me.  I deserve this coat, I thought.  I will buy it as a present to myself for losing so much weight. 

Penny gave me the name of the store where she purchased the coat.  Of course, the store is in Italy. Nothing is easy.  I checked out their website and left a message under the "contact us" section.

I couldn't wait for them to get back to me.  I planned to get the same style and color as Penny.  I even went through Lessons 1-3 of Italian on my Rosetta Stone program (a Christmas present from T). 

I was ready to make my dream come true.

The other day, my phone rings.  It's Giacomo, from the store in Florence, Italy!  His English was not so good.  We spoke basic conversational Italian.  I described the coat.  He knew what I was talking about.  I asked him the price.  He gave it to me in Euros.  I did some simple conversion of the currency.

NINE THOUSAND DOLLARS.  That's what the coat cost.  My dream coat.  After all these years, I find it and it costs as much as a down payment on a car.

I was so flummoxed, all I could say was "Gli uomini nuotare."  The men swim.  That's what I said.  Giacomo bid me "arriverderci" and hung up.

I took my old coat out of the closet and decided to get it shortened.

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