The Not Raincoat

A few weeks ago I was near downtown New Westminster, alone, and decided to go into the Grand Central Consignment store. It is a store that stocks clothing in sizes 10 and up and its selection of giant shoes is spectacular. I don’t really need shoes. No. But I went in anyway.

Having found no shoes I browsed the coat rack. I don’t need a coat, either, but someday my beloved corduroy coat will die and I will need a replacement. I tried on a few. Mostly they sucked. And then, I tried on The Not Raincoat.

If I were to need a coat, it would be a raincoat. I have a green, waterproof jacket, which has served me well these many years with kids and walking in the rain, but I often wish it was longer (wet, jean-clad thighs are unpleasant) and maybe not quite so bulky-jackety. More like a coat. More streamlined.

A few years ago I saw a woman wearing the perfect coat but I was driving so I never got to find out what sort it was.

No fewer than four moms at preschool have the same Lululemon raincoat, and it is pretty much what I want, (I would love it in red) but not for $178 and also, then how will my kid know it’s me? (By the ugly men’s rainboots, probably. The other mothers have pretty, decorated rainboots.)

The coat at Grand Central was the right length. It even was longer at the back. It was fitted and it fit me perfectly. It had a huge hood, which is important because I have a huge head. It had two sets of zippered pockets, it had *inside* pockets, it had cuffs under its sleeves to keep rain from going up your sleeves, it was ELEVEN DOLLARS…

…and it was not waterproof.

It was made of cotton. Untreated cotton.

I just stood there, staring at it. Because what good is a perfect raincoat if it is not, in fact, a raincoat? Why would someone go to the trouble of designing a perfect raincoat (pockets, sleeves, hood, etc) and then make it ABSORBANT instead of repellent?

Would you design a giant umbrella and poke it full of holes? Would you design a pillow and stuff it with rocks? Form is important, or I’d wear a garbage bag, but function is important, too.

I walked away, but I was very sad, because it still felt like a good deal. I walked home, thinking about ways I could buy it and love it and wear it – just not in the rain. (un)Fortunately my brain was having none of it. Eleven dollars is not a good deal for something that is useless.

Do you own anything perfect – and perfectly useless? Or do you have no patience for non-functional designs? Would you have bought the eleven dollar raincoat made of cotton and then sprayed it with shellac?

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