The Coat My Father Bought Me
I was walking into Cable Access in the first days of the latest cold snap and Rosie, the charismatic and cute front desk person, said, “I like your coat.”
Of course, any kind of compliment from a young woman at my age works wonders for the morale – so much so that I said, “Thanks, I live for your approval.” You can’t let them know the truth: That a compliment like that might last for a week.
It wasn’t the only time I’ve impressed people with the coat – not even the only time that day. An employee at Zupan’s also noticed the upgrade in my normal wardrobe. The coat is actually around 20 years old but it’s so well made you wouldn’t notice. Sure, a couple of the original buttons have broken off – one has been in the left pocket for probably a decade - but the basic look is exactly the same as when my Dad bought it for me back in the 1980s.
My band had been scattered across the Northwest and we decided to give it one last try by relocating in Spokane. I had my girlfriend with me and it was right out of Little House on the Prairie – basic survival was a major question mark. Our musical operation was lurching along towards oblivion, and failure was just a matter of time. We had gone from a holding pattern to a downward spiral, and we were just about to enter a freefall. Yes, folks, our humble group would shortly come apart when the FBI took an interest in our drummer. He would soon be residing in federal prison.
The worst part about those first few months in Spokane, was that the place was cold. Not pretend cold like this week, but serious cold: 20 degrees in November. You could feel your face beginning to freeze just walking down the street.
Perhaps sensing danger, my Dad showed up, and after surveying the situation he marched me into a great store in downtown Spokane and spent 300 dollars on this amazing coat. It isn’t flashy but it is impressive, weighing about as much as two good sleeping bags. When I wear it people who don’t know me, act like I’m important. You can’t imagine that? Here’s an anecdote that proves it:
My father had a sister named Ceal, and she was a huge Boston Celtics fan. I’m not an autograph seeker – I hardly ever ask for one and I’ve met some major celebrities. But it became a hobby of mine to get my Aunt Ceal autographs of the Celtics. They came to town one cold winter day so I put on the coat and headed to the Memorial Coliseum. The Celtics arrived on their bus and walked in. I approached them and it became obvious that everyone involved thought I belonged there. This was entirely because I had the coat on. So when the Celtics walked inside, I went along.
I got to watch the entire Celtics practice. I can tell you Larry Bird paid very little attention to the coach – a man named Jimmy Rodgers. Afterwards, I got to stand with the local press as they talked to the players. After one too many questions about how old they were getting, Kevin McHale said, “Listen, anyone who tells you you’re not older than you were yesterday is full of s___." That got a big laugh. Afterwards, I chatted with Larry Bird and got some great autographs for my Aunt Ceal. Ceal’s gone now and so is my Dad, but I got the coat out this week, and it still works. Hey, Rosie at cable access liked it, and that’s good enough for me.
Kevin McHale, Joe Kleine, Charles Smith, Jimmy Rodgers