This is something I wrote a while ago. I’m kind of taking a risk because it’s depressing and personal, but then, so is life sometimes.
I recently had coat drama, so I’m officially a woman. I’ve earned my stripes. I definitely have estrogen. Because I have spent a lot of time thinking about this coat. And I spent a decent amount on it, in Bloomingdale’s no less. It’s a rite of passage all girls must make, to spend an inordinate amount of time and money over an article of clothing. Most manage to do this early on, perhaps even at age thirteen, much like an extra sort of Bat Mitzvah. For me the day did not come until I was twenty, but I’ve always suspected I was a late bloomer in some avenues (yet also obviously very perceptive and mature in other areas).
The coat drama started in August. My family and I went for a last round of SoCal window shopping before I was to return to New York for school. At Bloomingdale’s I saw a coat, and it caught my eye. This rarely happens. Rarely do articles of clothing jump out at me as being me. I tried it on. It was toasty. I loved it. However, this coat, regrettably, was expensive, and since I’m incredibly cheap and frugal I did not buy the coat.
Months passed. I would occasionally remember the coat, but usually only in coat-oriented situations, which were few and far between. It seemed I could live without it, which was proof that I had made some sort of good decision by not buying it. However, as the cold season progressed coats became a much hotter topic. Everywhere I looked: coats. The coat was on my mind too much. Without it my life seemed incomplete. Cold. Unfashionable. Frumpy. These were adjectives that began to dominate my existence, and I knew deep down that the only solution was to find the coat that I had so foolishly passed up the first time around.
I was lucky enough to find that the coat was still being sold at Bloomingdale’s. Or at least, a comparable version of the coat I remembered was being sold, and that was good enough, since I wouldn’t know the difference anyway.
I made it a goal to find it. I went to one Bloomingdale’s in NYC. No luck. I made a very specific journey across town to another Bloomingdale’s for this coat. Success. I found the coat. I even made the sales woman go in the back of the store to find me a particular size and color. This coat had been waiting for me to come rescue it. I knew it. I felt liberated and fancy, and thought maybe the coat did too. Especially since it was admittedly an expensive coat. I figured this was okay though, because I thought, “people usually spend this sort of amount on coats, right? And I don’t really have a coat. And it’s not too cold and not too warm so I could probably wear it in LA in winter too, so that I am not making a poor investment.”
However, I returned to school to seek the opinion of my gay friend, since I figured this was just part of the process, naturally, of making this sort of a purchase.
“It fits you really really well. How much was it?”
I told him.
“Oh that seems like way too much money for that coat. It doesn’t look like it’s worth that much money. Also it might not be warm enough.”
I was crushed, but convinced. Silly me. I had been right all along. I was right not to buy the coat initially, because it was expensive. Who do I think I am? I know I don’t have that kind of money. And then I thought about it long and hard. What else could I do with the money I spent on that coat if I were to return it? I could buy train tickets. These I needed to go to NYC as often as I did from Vassar. And I didn’t want to be at Vassar. I wanted to be in the city, particularly because I wanted to see the dude I was dating who lived in Brooklyn as often as possible.
Basically the question came down to this: what do I value more? Sex or clothes? The decision was surprisingly hard to make. I did eventually decide, yes, I would be much better suited to spend this money on train tickets so that I could see the dude I was dating.
I went to Bloomingdale’s to return the coat. I knew it was the right thing to do. I returned it. The process was surprisingly fast, and also surprising were the emotions that arose from me after I had returned it.
I had expected to feel relieved. Like, “Oh thank god. Another two hundred dollars in my bank account. How nice to have money to spend on train tickets.”
I did not feel this way though. I felt the opposite of how I had felt in the first place when I bought the coat. When I bought it I had felt important and happy with myself. Completed. I was a whole person. But when I returned it I felt like I had left a part of myself at Bloomingdale’s. I felt like I just returned a poor (yet expensive) orphan puppy all by itself to potentially find itself with an unloving, unappreciative owner.
I stood in front of the store. Frozen. Not because it was cold out, because it wasn’t that day, but because something didn’t feel right.
I thought about it again. The coat would never not call me for four days. The coat would never not come to my improv show because it had “too much work to do.” The coat would never have sex with me without using condoms without asking me. The coat could not break up with me. The coat was consistent. I knew this. I went back and re-bought the coat.
And this is why I know that I am now officially a woman. I have reached the point where in some instances clothes matter more than dudes. I never thought it was possible. I thought the whole point of clothes was to look cute so that one could attract dudes. But this isn’t the case. That coat, which is really well fitting, is now apart of my identity. This coat will be with me for a long time, I think. Much longer than I can anticipate for any dude I end up with. It’s nice to know that some things in life will always be there for you, no matter what.