The Coat Saga, 2010 Version

I can no longer blame my unplanned, yet annual purchase of at least one new coat on my daughter (see 200520062007 when it looked like no coat purchase would happen and the inevitable 2007 purchase, 2008, and 2009, when a coat got bought, trust me, but it was during the nine months that this blog was broken). Yes, each year, my purchase of a new coat remains unplanned, yet justified. It must be genetic. This year in a tired moment, I innocently left my raincoat in Plaster Student Union after a meeting. It was a very ordinary, yet functional raincoat, in a size no one of college age would admit to needing, so I fully expected to get it back in the lost and found,. Alas, no. Thus, another shopping trip to get a coat. As usual, I went to Name Brand Clothing first, and they had several aisles of coats, most priced under forty dollars. The coat I selected was black with khaki accents and was also by Liz Claiborne, like the coat I lost. What made it even better was the zip-out wool plaid lining for warmth, so, thank you anonymous coat-taker. I have gained by this transaction.

To be truthful, this was not the first coast purchase of the semester. In October I bought a dark brown leather blazer, but was not going to include it in this saga. It is wearable inside as part of an ensemble, so it does not count for this annual detailing of weakness, right? It is perfect for fall because it covers that temperature zone when a sweater won’t do, but a full-out coat gets you mocking glances from people walking by.

Just writing about this shopping success makes me want to look again in search of a full-length winter coat, a better one than my current black faux-lamb coat. I was never satisfied with it, and hope to find one with more buttons and in a color. English department faculty have to be careful about black. A little color doesn’t hurt, but you wouldn’t know that by the typical English faculty wardrobe. I’m including me in this too; I know that my default is black. If you doubt the English/black connection and are going to MLA in Los Angeles this year, look around and play spot the MLA member at lunch. Black suit-o-rama. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it is odd that those with the largest ideas have the narrowest wardrobe.

Update: So I went to Name Brands again after seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One. The movie, by the way, was very good, but the apres-movie shopping was a failure. Black coats. Woven-print and plaid coats, mainly black. There is a black coat conspiracy, I know it. I went to Macy’s too since I had to go to the mall for something else, and black coats, none of them more formal than the kind of car coat that used to be made for football game attendance. Oh, and one grey coat, perfect for making my hair look awful. I will wait for after-Christmas and check other stores then.

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Author of the poetry collection The Tethered Ground and Professor of English at Missouri State University. Contact me for readings or for workshops on writing/publishing and on teaching writing online.

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