Monday, October 9, 2017

Fur Pajamas

The (fur) coat hangs ceremoniously, eluding to Canadian history; strings of pelts clipped together on the back of those horse-drawn sleighs in vintage Hudson Bay illustrations. Like an altar to a merciful 'Saint of Roadkill'.  Oh yes, if the wild mammal dies by tire tread (squished out blubbery pinkish gooey intestines) then you are permitted to skin it and wear it.  Otherwise, shame on you!

Once I stayed at a rustic cabin on a wooded back lot in Muskoka. The front desk girl, dressed in gingham shirt, jeans and hiking boots; the good kind with red laces, gave me the 30 second tour.  "Fresh towels are there on the shelf, dry kindling is under the eaves out back, raccoons know how to unlock even the most sophisticated screen door latches so beware of glowing beady eyes. It's probably not a dream but a real critter sitting on your stomach trying to steal all the covers."  Pointing to the black fur thrown over the back of the chesterfield she continued. "Oh. That's from a bear. My Grandma noticed it up in a tree outside the kitchen window.  Grandpa grabbed his rifle and shot it.  Now its a blanket that nobody uses." 

That's the thing about these lavish, Dynasty-style coats.  They used to be so relevant and desired.  You got a failing mark in personal style if you didn't own a fashionable, designer one.  If you wanted to take it up a notch even further, you would have an embroidered, swirly script love note inside stating that your husband adored you more than life itself.  "Look Ladies", as you opened it up to show off - "George Loves Jean". The ultimate blessed owner had their coats pampered and chilled all summer in an expensive cold storage shop uptown. You've seen those frozen snowdrift signs. God forbid a hair fall out. That would be so mean!

The notorious drug squad of downtown Toronto in the eighties had a way with (legally) confiscated criminal cash.  They'd simply divvy it up between themselves and a dozen or so lucky wives would receive fluffy, mid-length wolf coats Christmas morning. Busted!  All winter those women would flaunt their good fortune.  After all, it was they who had to endure never, ever seeing their babies' Father due to his endlessly, long stakeouts on seedy street corners, remanded court dates, or rendezvouses with hookers in the back of their junker, unmarked rentals.  One more note about this:  All those undercover cops had afro-esque perms back then.  We (the significant others) could have skinned them alive and made poodle coats instead.  At the very least. They owed us that. 

Certainly the scariest memory of fur culture, for me anyways, was my highfalutin Aunt who wore an actual fox head scarf around her jiggly turkey neck.  It terrified me! (more than her neck) Dead eyes. Stiff pointy ears. Rigor mortis face.  Yellow razor teeth.  Puffy tail.  Musky aroma. I shiver today writing this.  What on Earth would drive a person to wrap a nightmare over ones shoulders?  It most definitely has the similar tingle feeling as seeing a taxidermy baby crocodile on your Uncles fireplace mantle.  Save. Me. 

Why are we so ashamed to wear these gently-used mollycoddled fur coats today?  I mean. It's not like we condone the senseless slaughter of thousands of animals 'As Seen On TV' or 'YouTube'. But back then?  We even smoked cigarettes in our hospital beds after giving birth.  We smoked in Doctor's office waiting rooms. Hell, the Dr. smoked while he asked you to spread your legs. Times were different back then. Everything was different.  Everyone wore fur.

Alas, my beautiful vintage fur coat hangs alone on its nickel door hook.  It sways daily as I open and shut the closet.  It whispers to me.  'Put me on. Wear me.' I ignore it.  I feel so damn guilty.  But what am I to do. What would you do?

Friends.  It's life has become a boring example of doing nothing. It loiters like a teenager in a sprawling suburban mall.  The coat has one role now.  When it gets really brisk. When my bedroom feels more like Siberia.  I wear it as pajamas. 

- Patti Friday © 2017

Patti Friday: Artist | Illustrator | Author | Wellness Community Member | Reporting from inside 'The Art Dept.' at the international 'Embassy of Ideas'
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