I've found true love.
My new boyfriend is dark, sleek, and zippers up the middle, just the way I like it. He doesn't need conversation or dinner. What's more he's Canadian and exotic. Just whisper his name "Canada Goose" and I get going.
Every winter I ditch my husband for a "winter soul mate," the perfect coat that will take me to the next level and keep me thermodynamically protected from New York City's winter. It hasn't been easy. My closet reads like a mall of discarded "ex's," each with a heart-wrenching story.
It's difficult to think of Brooklyn as the tundra or city dwellers as expedition explorers. But New York City is an urban arctic. It doesn't matter which country we've immigrated from or what borough we dwell in, we've all done time waiting on wind-swept platforms for non-existent trains wishing we were clad in winter burkas. Not to mention shivering in the dungeon depths of Times Square while rats scurry warmly to their destinations.
Like Iditarod "mushers" New Yorkers are continually exposed to Nature's elements, slogging from East Side to West, navigating sidewalks, weaving through tourists and unwieldy hot-dog vendors. Instead of commanding packs of well-trained dogs, we usually have kids in tow, our backpacks weighed down by books, gym gear, and school lunches. Yaks have it easier.
My quest for the flawless coat is a long, sordid story. Like going out on bad dates, I kissed a lot of trenches before I went steady.
My first fling was with an innocent, floor-length Land's End. Although its price was enticing, the cut didn't flatter (the ankle-length black trench made me look like a "creature from the deep"). After that, I moved up to a ¾ length dependable L.L. Bean. The name "Arcadia Down" suggested common sense and specificity but the quilted, puffed squares channeled The Michelin Man, not a svelte ice goddess. Finally, I committed to a North Face "Artic Parka" but the zipper snagged me. None of my affairs lasted; none of my partners were warm enough.
One night, my family staged an intervention.
My husband sat me down. "Honey, I know you're cold but where do you think you're living? This is New York City, not Iceland. Is this some kind of urban fantasy?"
My oldest, Eliza, took my hand. "Mom, you've got a problem. You need to confront this. If they have a 'CA' get yourself to a meeting."
"A 'Coat's Anonymous.' Your addiction's out of control."
I felt cornered. "Can't New Yorkers be as cold as people living in North Dakota?"
Eliza shook her head. "Is that what you're saying to yourself now, Mom? We live in South Brooklyn. Do you feel unloved or something?"
I lived a double life. Frugal by day, at night I went on-line to the Canada Goose website. Rugged, gorgeous individuals graced their home page. Clad head-to-toe in luscious gear, their models were waist-deep in snow and resembled dancers from Swan Lake. The company's sensuous visuals were the arctic equivalent of a Victoria's Secret catalogue.
Those who succumbed to their passion and bought the coats were referred to as "Goose People." I could become a part of something wild, a Canadian cult! Was there a pledge to memorize like when I joined the Girl Scouts, a ritual to be performed, a rite-of-passage?
Unlike the needy teen boyfriends of my youth, these parkas were fiercely independent. Each coat came equipped with a "Thermal Experience Index" a rating of warmth from 1-5. I could control the thermostat of my relationship.
I needed a fix. The temperature in NYC was plummeting so I hoodwinked my mother who lives around the corner from Bloomingdales and told her we were "just browsing."
The Canada Goose section was small but there were signs of a struggle. Coats were flying, women tearing samples from mannequins. Vowing that nothing was going to come between me and my Goose, I grabbed my Mom's shoulders. "Don't move. Stand here and watch the saleslady like a hawk. I'm going in."
"Honey," she shouted above the din, "are you sure you need this coat?"
I ignored her. Unleashing my inner consumer warrior, I leapt over an innocent Chinese woman who was hoping to snag a parka to Beijing and grabbed a coat that had fallen to the floor in the scuffle. It must've been a Christmas miracle but suddenly, I found myself gazing into the face of the man my dreams, my Kensington Parka ,who was even more rugged and handsome than his "URL" link.
"Take out your charge card, Mom. Give it to the saleslady. I'll pay you back. I'll get a second job, I promise."
My Mom obliged and I emerged wearing my new coat proud and flushed. Taking my time, I zipped up the hood. True to its reputation, I was instantly engulfed in a smoldering embrace. Giddy, I expected my mother to coo over my new down lover but she was confused.
"Aren't you going to be warm on the train, darling? What are you doing to do when you're indoors all the time?"
Love is blind. Besides, my coat will always make a good sleeping bag. Who knows if I'll still be satisfied come next winter!