Published, Aug 7th, 2012
One Of A KindMy mother bought a “strange” full-length fur coat at a tag sale in Hacketstown in March. It has proven to be very controversial.
Of course, she loves creating a bit of a stir. Twenty-five years ago she fell off a balcony at a U2 concert, dressed as Lieut Uhura from Star Trek. (Bono gamely tried to catch her. For his trouble he ended up with three broken ribs and a Phaser wedged so far up the wazoo he had to write a song about it: I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.)
People are pointing in the street. The local newspaper has received countless letters of complaint. The coat has driven some to fury, and others to tears, but mother is not in the least upset; in fact, she seems to relish the scorn and the enmity.
My sister, Carolina Moon, confronted her on the matter. She asked her, straight up: “Why are you wearing that thing?”
“You don’t like it?”
“Nobody in town likes it.”
My mother nuzzled the coat and laid on her best Zsa Zsa Gabor accent. “Well, I think it’s rather fabulous, dahrlink. What do you not like? Is it the shape?”
“It’s not the shape.”
“The buttons are fine.”
Mother flounced in front of the mirror and narrowed her eyes, so that she might see a younger reflection. “Does it make me look fat?”
“No. That was the children and the chocolate.”
Mother seemed genuinely baffled. “I’m confused. So it must be the colour?”
“The colour is part of the problem.”
“Which one bothers you the most? Is it the black or the white?”
At this point, Carolina Moon could take no more; she exploded in rage. “Mother,” she screamed, “Don’t you understand? The coat, it’s panda! PANDA!! P-A-N-D-A!!!
“Yes,” replied mother, stroking a sleeve, “and probably virgin too. You know what they’re like. It’s definitely not a reproduction.”
Carolina Moon collapsed in a tearful heap on the floor. Mother, whether out of honest hunger or sheer badness (the truth may never be known), went to the local Chinese restaurant, dressed in her best, and, in full view of the horrified locals, ordered a triple portion of bamboo shoots.