A tale of two coats

February 6, 2015

By Pat Detmer

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When the weather is miserable here we head to warmer climes, specifically the Palm Springs area.

Although neither of us are shoppers, when we stay in Rancho Mirage with my sister (who is a shopper) we visit the College of the Desert Street Fair, which is a walk away. It’s really not a street fair at all. It’s a “parking lot” fair, and there must be a hundred booths where you can buy clothing, golf accessories, hats, visors, art, jewelry, specialty foods, sunglasses and obviously, given the number of them that you see there, male senior citizens wearing high-waisted shorts.

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While visiting about five years ago, The Sainted One bought a short yellow jacket with navy trim, unremarkable in all respects except for the ability to unzip the sleeves and create a vest, something that we would forget unless we picked it up at a certain angle when washing it, whereupon we would declare, surprised once again, “Hey! You can take the sleeves off this thing!” and then would promptly forget. He adored it, wore it to death, wore it until the wrists frayed, the pockets became sieves and the stand-up collar wilted.

Rather than go shopping for a replacement that might be slightly different like normal people might do, he decided that he needed to have another one just like it, so we sent our family there a picture of the jacket and a map to the booth where we bought it. They found it, bought it and shipped it north. For good measure, he also bought a white one exactly like it. The Sainted One was beside himself. Now he had two yellow jackets! I thought that this might signal his willingness to part with the old one, but I was wrong. He would keep the old one, he told me, but just for trips to the hardware store or for working in the yard. Nothing else.

Yeah. Right.

So two Very Special yellow jackets now hung in our hall closet, prompting regular discussions like this one when we were headed out:

Me, standing at the closet door: “Honey, do you want your yellow jacket or your yellow jacket?”

The Sainted One, pensive, index finger on lower lip: “Hmm. Maybe the yellow jacket.”

But recently, the day finally — finally! — came when even he could no longer justify two yellow jackets that looked like they’d been worn continuously for five years, which they had, and he took the painful and brave step of letting them go. I took a picture of him with his left hand resting on the jackets and his right hand covering his eyes. It makes me a little teary to look it. Admittedly, it also makes me laugh a little.

And that white coat just like it? Never wears it. Doesn’t like it. It’s not yellow.

You can reach Pat Detmer, who has already spent oodles of time on the Internet searching for an exact replacement with no success, at patdetmer@aol.com.

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