I loved that coat. It was a present from my parents my senior
year in high school; cloaked my body from upturned collar to the
back of my calves in one hundred percent pure virgin wool from
Uruguay; pura lana virgen, reine chur wolle. A herringbone cape
that instantly added six inches to my small frame, I know it!
Thick fabric that shielded me from snow, sleet, torrent and most
importantly from degrading looks of disgust due to a poor choice
of fashion. A true man's overcoat.
"I know it well," you say. "I have just such a garment in my
closet. Let's go, the two of us, and find a winters day to
celebrate putting our coats on!" I shall not go with you. For
when the tables turned the shoe did not fit the other foot.
That coat protected me through season upon season and when my
opportunity to return the favor appeared, I faltered.
If only my opportunity had been as obvious as the precipitation
that coat had thwarted. Perhaps then I might have covered it
correctly. Now, however, that is a dream and off the point.
Really it never received much care from myself at all. That
was all part of its greatness, its reliability. As a bachelor I
would fling my priceless into the trunk under the spare if the
situation warranted, and even if it didn't and I just wasn't
thinking. There was no dry cleaner even in mind to lay hands
upon it; quite obviously, none needed; how absurd, whatever do
you mean? It was my coat, perfect, no matter.
"Friend!" I can hear you, "there is so much we have in common!
Quick tell me which plague has afflicted! What has brought the
end to the perfect relationship we share?"
A subtle combine, a harvester of this young crop known as
bachelor...my wife. (I do not mean to compare my beloved to a
tractor, only reiterating the old theme of seasons changing and
a time and a place, turn, turn, turn, etc.) Subtle, wonderful,
to be sure shaped better than that coat could have ever been,
but still the doer of the dastardly deed. Spouse, lover, Venus,
Cleopatra, Josephine, Mata Hari, Delilah...Mary.
By now you understand that, as in most big things in marriage,
the situation appeared as most innocent. A pleasant evening
with friends, good coffee, chips, salsa, a fine game, all the
things that define the trophy we call the weekend. The normal
routine was followed. We were pleasant, we were happy to go, we
kissed, we walked arm in arm, we laughed, I felt great in that
coat. As far as I knew the world was spinning in just the way I
needed it to. Oh, the plans of mice and men, some find a better
trap while some find a wife.
It had been months since I'd actually been around this
particular group and found two or three present that recent
history had tarnished in my eyes for one reason or another.
"Hmm, not what I expected. What do I do now?" (Here, I have to
say never ask yourself this question. Don't even let it get
this far. Just be there.) The answer came in a flash. My mind
handed my brain an exquisite, leather bound booklet inscribed
with gold, titled "You're a Genius". Its wisdom came upon me,
"Well, absolutely don't be yourself."
A smile appeared on my face, greetings were scattered
throughout, and all knew I had arrived, with my coat. After
adequate salutations, time must be taken to remove the gloves,
slide the scarf and properly exit that coat while all the time
continuing the social sport. At last it is done and I am out of
"Ah, yes. There it is. So now, here am I." And if I had
actually said something just like that maybe I would understand
this all the better, but why make it easy on myself? I can't
remember a line similar in arrogance but, apparently, that's how
all the lines were.
I had a wonderful time. It was all right being around those
two or three after all. And you know, I think I made the sale.
Venus was not impressed. I found out much the same way I find
out new polices in the office. I'll be sitting at my desk
having a conversation with a prospect and in will come a clerk
with a memo that informs me that commissions are to be cut in
half and dashes out before I have a chance to react. "I don't
like that coat." What was that? I thought we were talking
about getting the oil changed in your car. What's going on?
Can you please tell me my name? "That coat does something to
you. I don't like it." Is there a test of the Emergency
Broadcast System going on? Something terrible is ringing in my
ears! Maybe I should call 911. Can I sit down?
That was it. I knew it was the end. The tsunami had hit shore
and all I could do was ride it out, What could I do to save my
companion when I was drowning myself? After all it was my
fault. I'd tied the millstone around my neck and was sinking
too fast to help others to the surface.
Once I composed myself enough to listen, I found out what my
lover was really saying. What could I reply? "No, you're
wrong. You didn't see me acting like a pompous jerk. I wasn't
trying to impress anyone, they just needed to share in my
entertaining wisdom which I distributed most eloquently." Where
would I sleep the rest of my life after a remark like that? I
went under and purposely inhaled.
You and I both know it wasn't that coat that caused its own
demise. This time the man tried to make the clothes and that
never works out in the end. How do you get around that one
without causing more damage? How to explain it? Didn't this
happen before with Dad? Wasn't I the one caught with the ink
jar next to the clothes washer even though Jimmy had left it
there...there's no time to explain, just go cut yourself a
switch. The damage was done. After all, its just a coat and
she's my wife, God love her.
I have one idea that I can't get out of my head, though.
Maybe, just maybe, someday when I'm ninety-four she'll decide to
go to heaven and die without me and I'll go get me a new coat,
but not to spite her. For some reason, there will be a couple
of guys who will know this whole story and see me wearing my new
coat. One will say to the other, "Well, look at that. You
know, his wife hated that coat and he was decent enough to wait
till that sweet lady died before he wore it again. Yes, sir.
That's a true man's overcoat." In the mean time, I think I have
the most expensive seat cover in America.
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