When I was in the 9th grade at Lincoln Junior High School, my mom had bought the most beautiful cobalt blue coat that I had ever seen. Problem was she wouldn’t let me touch her clothes much less wear any of them. And I was the only child. I had plenty of coats but nothing as beautiful as hers. I lusted after that coat for days upon end.
It was October and it was a Friday: That meant that not only did we at school have an hour for lunch but we also got to go to a football game for the entire afternoon. My mom left for work before I left for school and I had the thought of just trying on the blue coat but I cast that aside. Trouble I didn’t want and so I headed off for school but all that was on my mind besides getting to have the afternoon off to go to a football game, was that blue coat.
A friend of mine came home for lunch with me and while eating a sandwich, I went into my mom’s bedroom and took out the coat, put it on and asked my friend what she thought of it. Like me, she thought it was the most beautiful coat she had ever seen. You can guess that I wore that coat back to school where we all got on buses and headed to Kanawha City for the game.
I can still remember what happened: I was standing up on the bleachers with my friend and everyone else when I put my arms up in the air and then heard a rip. A chill went down my spine as I looked at the coat: The entire under arm had ripped right off. I was hysterical. Just knew I was going to either be killed or grounded by my mom. I don’t even remember the bus trip back to Lincoln.
What I do remember is coming home and sitting there deciding what to do: I could go to my grandmother’s and have her sew it but then she’d tell my mom. And all of a sudden I remembered Mrs. Zimmerman that lived up the street from me. She had done alterations on my skirts before. I flew up the street as if I had wings on. Breathless, I asked her if she could fix it and explained my dilemma.
Said she could fix it but all I had was a quarter. Didn’t matter to her thank heavens as I sat there watching her sew the sleeve back onto the coat. Relief washed over my face and body. I wasn’t going to be killed or grounded for life. Thanked her, ran back home and hung up my mom’s beautiful blue coat back in the closet. My second only saving grace was that she wouldn’t get home from work for an hour yet.
And yet I couldn’t calm down for fear that she’d somehow know what I had done. When she came home, she asked me how the football game was and if I had fun. Told her I did and that I was tired and was going to take a nap. The smell of dinner woke me up and not one thing was said about the blue coat: She didn’t know!
From that time on, I never sneaked any of my mom’s clothes out to wear. I would ask her and sometimes she’d let me. Years passed and it’s funny but I never told her the incident about that blue coat. Never. And as for Mrs. Zimmerman, who would continue to alter my clothes, she never said a word about it either. If you’re wondering if I paid her for that one terrible time, yes I did and it was more than a quarter.
I was just lucky that Mrs. Zimmerman had been home to sew that arm back onto the coat and even luckier that I had time to put it back where it belonged—in my mom’s closet. But best of all, no one ever said a thing about it.
Published in The Charleston Gazette
*I had to rewrite this as the original story was on my other computer and was lost forever.