My kingdom for a coat | Mark’s Remarks

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I used to wonder why older people in my life seemed to hang on to articles of clothing for what seemed a lifetime.  

I mean, I remember seeing some of them in the same “dress-up” clothes, coats, shoes and so on for my entire life.  

I would say things like “Grandma’s had that dress for as far back as I can remember.” A blue dress my grandmother wore was in several of her school pictures (she was a teacher) and she wore it when she posed with my grandpa for their 50th wedding anniversary picture.  

Grandpa himself had a “farm coat” that I’m sure was over 50 years old.  They all wore shoes until they were worn out, and then actually took them to the shoe repair shop to have them fixed.

Their society was never the “throw away” society we live in today.

One of the reasons I know I am a full-blooded male is my disdain for shopping. I’m not really a fan of online shopping either. 

When Michelle and I registered for our wedding, she was practically giddy when the folks at Famous Barr gave us a scanning gun and had us walk around and scan items for our registry. After a few laps around the homegoods area, I was ready to have a seat in the patio section and call it a night. 

I had also started getting on Michelle’s nerves because I was pointing the scanning gun at a variety of things just to avoid boredom and maybe aggravate her a bit.

I felt the same way when we registered for baby stuff when we were expecting Riley. I think Michelle was proactive and gave me some tasks in another part of the store as she hurriedly registered for as much as she could before I made my appearance again.

I find myself having conversations with my friends, most of them around my age, about a good pair of comfortable shoes or a good, well-made coat. 

It just seems like yesterday that we were all more concerned with how hip and happening we were or what we could wear to look good.  

Seemingly overnight, we are concerned only with comfort and durability.

“That’s a nice coat,” I said to one of my teacher friends the other day as we were leaving school.

“It was one of my mother’s many discarded coats.  I liked it and thought it looked decent. Plus, it’s warm and well-made. It might be the last coat I ever need,” she said matter-of-factly, but also with a hint of kidding in her voice.

As usual, we cackled a bit. We are still at the stage in which the mysteries of growing older are a bit funny to us.  

Maybe it’s denial, too.

“It’s a heck of a lot nicer than this one,” I said, referring to the black coat I’ve had for probably 15 years.  

It is one that is a hand-me-down from one of Michelle’s brothers. A well-made coat, nondescript and therefore never out of style.  It is from a nicer clothing store and probably cost a respectable price back in the day. I got it for free.

I say it will never go out of style, but maybe I’m also in denial.

I don’t wear it every day, but I wear it often. The outside is still in awesome shape, and I put off taking it to the dry cleaners as long as possible. I usually start thinking about dropping it off when I notice people giving me looks of pity.

The inside of the coat is starting to show its age, though. The lining is getting a little frayed and there are little threads and strings sticking out here and there. I’ve snipped a few with scissors. I considered duct tape.  

I would like to talk to an experienced seamstress to see if such a lining could be repaired.

I mean, I wouldn’t mind keeping the coat for another… well, forever.

Once in a while, I wrap a winter scarf around my neck and turn up my collar.  I throw on a new pair of gloves. That old coat still rises to the occasion. It has never let me down.  

The trip to the seamstress, the duct tape, the snipping of the frayed threads are all an attempt to avoid shopping for a new coat. I’ve already searched online and looked for styles that would remain in style for posterity.  

After a few minutes, I start to get a stomach ache. I’d rather have minor surgery than shop for new stuff.

I wish some old van would pull up in front of the house, driven by a sensible, no-nonsense person who had a variety of coats in the back. He or she would hop out, hand me coats to try on, and have me look in the portable full-length mirror that was attached to the back door of the van.  

Somehow, we’d find the perfect coat. I’d hand over my old hand-me-down as a trade-in and also hand the van driver a respectable amount of money.

And then we’d part ways, promising to stay in touch in case I needed an upgrade in another 40 years.

Well, I can dream can’t I?

Hey, maybe I’m onto something. A possible second career after retirement!

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