In 1968, Mom took me to Marshall Fields in Chicago, and, defying family tradition to shop at Sears Roebuck and only Sears Roebuck, she did the extraordinary. She spied and bought me the most outlandish coat the store possessed.
This coat was so remarkable, it was recorded in literary history when a warm-hearted journalist wrote about my upcoming attendance to Mundelein College with the phrase, “She arrived in a coat any girl would love to wear to college.”
Likely, the sheer size of this garment caught her attention. It could double as a mattress as well as withstand holocaust of any kind. It was an enormous concoction of something very curly and very puffy, and of a material bearing no connection to the natural world.
It had the consistency of petrified cotton candy and a color egg-yolkish.
I loved it with affection previously reserved for stuffed animals. It was, come to think about it, the largest stuffed animal known to man. I loved it so much, I wore the thing well beyond dirty and well beyond the season when I needed the warmth of a wooly mammoth.
I cleaned it prior to my first college date, with a fellow who wanted to take me to dinner AND a movie. In the face of such largess, I wanted to look my best.
I used a powder designed to be sprinkled onto dirty hair, in case you were miles from water and shampoo. I used 2 cans. The idea was to let the powder latch onto dirt particles, then brush it out. I did so. My coat and I then smelled like a newborn bath.
My date, hoping to discern if a body lived within, cradled my shoulder as we walked to the theater. POOF! A cloud of powder engulfed us both. We sat in seats in the darkened theater. POOF! my coat exploded when I sat. By the time we arrived at a restaurant afterwards, he daren’t risk checking the coat. I wore it to the table. Leaning forward to find out his sun sign. POOF! Raising a glass to toast our meeting each other. POOF! Had a stegasaurus needed to powder its nose, I could have helped out.
For once, being called a powder puff had basis in fact.