The jacket that whimpered

Once upon a time there was a coat that lived in a vintage store in Midtown I ducked into one rainy afternoon.

I enjoy perusing the racks of quirky stuff in vintage shops so I blithely wandered, waiting for something to jump out at me. Soon I saw a long, elegant leather sleeve sticking out of a tightly-packed coat rounder (was it waving at me?)

A palomino tan, 70s era hip length jacket. Not too big of a collar, spliced together from several pieces of leather, a couple pockets.

As i ran my fingers over the lovingly worn leather…it was like big puppy eyes at the pet store. The jacket wanted to come home with me.

But what was I going to do with it?  It was a man’s jacket, and too big for me. I thought of making it smaller, but that would require complete reconstruction of the shoulders (a pain). I’m sort of a bag whore, and it occurred to me I could make a fabulous tote out of it. It had such an identity, a quirkiness that would translate wonderfully, and the lining was still immaculate. So I ponied up the $35 dollars for the jacket, and had the cashier double and triple bag it up so it couldn’t get wet on the long trek home.

I got it home, and checked in the pockets. No evidence of a previous owner, darn it! I smelled in the front inside pocket, wondering if I’d catch a whiff of some PallMall cigarettes long ago stored there. After more gentle fondling, I put it in my closet for working on it some future day.

Every few weeks, I’d sense it back there, and pull it out.

Sometimes i’d just run my fingers over the worn seams.

Sometimes i’d wear it around the house. It had such a cozy manliness to it. Someone’s cool dad would have worn a coat like this.

I think objects have identities, especially clothes. When I’d do these things, the coat liked it.

But there was one thing it didn’t like: every time I’d put the coat in my hands and simultaneously think about ripping the seams open to reform it into a bag, the coat would become….heavy. The kind of heavy that a child becomes when it doesn’t want to be picked up.

I’d put down the seam ripper, and gently hang the coat back on its hanger.

After a while the coat quieted down, and just stayed in the back of the closet. I had realized it didn’t want to be a bag, so I quit pulling it out. But I could hear it whimpering in there. I had sort of forgotten about it when…

…one day Chris was going to come over.

Chris is a friend of mine with an old-world cool. Style without pretention.  The coat would suit him perfectly. So it was not surprising that as the time for Chris to arrive grew closer, suddenly the coat wanted OUT. It was panting like an excited puppy. Before I knew it I was pulling it out of the closet and hanging it on the front hooks by the door, so I’d remember to ask if Chris wanted it.

When he got to my house, I barely had time to point to the coat and ask, “do you think you would like…” when he reached out and said, “MY coat!” and you can guess the rest. Fit him like a glove.


And when he put his cigarettes in the front pocket, I could hear the coat purring.