The coat is fire-engine red. Silver buttons march single file from neck to hem, fending off winds that would burrow beneath your clothes like persistent maggots.
Otherwise, it’s a Plain Jane. Functional. Here to do its job, no more or less. You want to dress it up with designer scarves, cute hats and stiletto boots – that’s your business. It has enough to do to keep you warm without pandering to your vanity as well. Your numb fingertips are no match for pockets that could nurture a young marsupial.
As you admire your reflection, you realise this is a coat that promises nothing it can’t deliver: a veritable shield against the slings and arrows of outrageous winter weather.
You’ve wasted money on fashion and fads – trench coats only suitable for Inspector Gadget, bomber jackets with less padding than your own hips and checked fabrics that turned you backside into a table for four. While you tried to keep up with the trendies, your bone marrow solidified like an ancient glacier that even global warming couldn’t thaw. If only you had a coat like this you might have been a different person – someone warm and contented who could go out and socialize on winter nights without a hot water bottle strapped to each leg. Your relationship might have lasted longer than a mild dose of flu. The road to success might not have terminated at Centrelink. And the GFC (Ghastly Family Christmas-in-July when you told your relatives exactly where to stuff their turkey) might have remained a fond reverie. Such a coat could have saved you from emotional and financial ruin.
Even now it seems to admonish you for your rebellious ways, like a parent whose long-ignored advice is finally acknowledged.
You’ve learned you lesson. Solemnly you draw your credit card from its hiding place.
(Originally published in Fair Copy, Official Newsletter of FAW (NSW) Isolated Writers’ Regional, January 2011)