Friday, February 20, 2015


I own two winter coats. One is the one I wear when I’m going to a public place, like the mall or a restaurant. The other is a hooded  jacket I wear when I walk the dogs. Needless to say, the walking-the-dogs jacket has a lot less style and lot more warmth. When I wear it, I look about as shapely as the Michelin Man…but it keeps me toasty.

The other day, as I was about to walk the dogs, I put on my warm jacket and shoved my usual must-haves into the pockets: cell phone, keys, pepper spray, dog treats, tissues, a mini flashlight…and one by one, they landed on the floor. I took off the jacket and checked the pockets. When I stuck my hand into the left one, my fingers came out through the hem.

I wasn’t surprised. Over the past 10 years, I’d been noticing the shreds in the jacket’s lining, the holes in the pockets, and the zipper that got stuck more often than it zipped (due to the aforementioned shredded lining getting caught in it). But I tried to ignore the signs of impending doom. I was hoping the jacket somehow would miraculously heal itself, kind of like a wounded animal.

Considering the fact I can’t even thread a needle, I decided the time had come to buy a new warm winter jacket – one with pockets that actually were still attached to it. So I reluctantly went shopping.

Too soon I discovered that February really isn’t a good time to shop for warm clothing. Even though the outdoor temperature was cold enough to give a polar bear a bad case of the goosebumps, the clothing displays in most of the stores featured Bermuda shorts, halter tops and lightweight spring jackets. Any winter coats still available were clumped together on “sale” racks and looked as if they had been Christmas returns – probably because, judging from most of the styles, the people who’d received them as gifts had been too embarrassed to be seen wearing them in public.

And when I finally did find a jacket that met my criteria – long, past the hips, with a warm lining and a detachable hood – it was size XS, which meant that even if I could manage to squeeze any of my body parts into it, the length of the sleeves would end up somewhere around my elbows.

Discouraged, I came home and seriously tried to repair my old jacket. The results were so crooked, bunched up and hideous looking, the only place I’d ever wear the jacket would be in the middle of woods…after dark.  Even then, nocturnal wild animals probably would point at it and laugh.

Anyway, the other day my dogs and I took a ride to K-Mart because I wanted to buy an insulated cookie sheet. My oven has this bad habit of burning the bottoms of cookies to charcoal stage after only five minutes, while the tops of the cookies are still raw. But if I use an insulated sheet, the cookies come out golden on both the tops and the bottoms. I’d bought one earlier at K-Mart and liked it so much, I decided to buy another one.

When I entered the store, I happened to see a couple racks of ladies’ winter coats up ahead to the right, so for the heck of it, I checked them out.

There, among the seemingly endless leather jackets and unlined woolen coats, I spotted the perfect jacket. It was long, thick, soft, and was lined with a black, fleecy material. Even the hood and sleeves were fully lined for extra warmth. I tried on the jacket without even checking the size. To my disbelief, it fit perfectly.

I finally looked at the tag. The jacket was from the Jaclyn Smith (the former Charlie’s Angel) collection and was described as being “faux shearling.”  It also was $129.99.  That immediately kicked it up to a “going out to dinner” jacket, not a “walk the drooling and fur-shedding dogs” one.  It didn’t matter anyway. At that price, I couldn’t even afford the hood.

That’s when I noticed a big “SALE” sign on the rack.  I took off the jacket and rushed over to a clerk for a price check.

It was only $48. I nearly did a happy dance in the aisle.

Clutching the bag with my newly purchased jacket in it, I headed out to the car. I climbed in and set down the bag on the front seat.

Almost immediately, the dogs went crazy. Raven stuck her head between the seats and attacked the bag, grabbing it and trying to drag into the back seat. I had to tear it away from her.

When I got home, I checked the jacket’s materials listed on the label. I thought maybe the dogs had attacked it because it might contain real shearling instead of the “faux” variety – or maybe some kind of recycled animal fur.

The label listed only one material for the coat. And as far as I know, there is no animal called “100 percent polyester.”

Out of curiosity, I held up the jacket to see what the dogs would do once it was out of the bag. They growled at it.

So now I have a nice warm, new jacket…but I’m afraid to wear it. I have the feeling it may end up shredded with the pockets ripped off, just like my old jacket…only this time it won’t be from natural causes

But if I ever have to buy another winter coat, I figure July might be a good month to go shopping for one.
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