Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Fur Coats and Shiny Black Pumps

Ma had one fur coat, but it wasn’t quite right.  Either it was too short or it wasn’t the right kind of fur or not enough fur or maybe it just didn’t make a big enough statement about her for the entire world to see. Whatever the reason, she needed a new fur.  The question that dilemma posed, however, was, how to buy a new fur coat without spending any additional money.
Where can I cut back for my must have??  Hmmm, we can cut out….ah…mmm…some food!  Yeah! If I cut back for, let’s see, six or nine months, I’ll have it!  Perfect.
So all six of us were put on a weight loss plan and Ma got her full-length Pavlis and Brother’s mink.  As I recall, it took about nine months.
There are a lot of attributes that I’ve inherited from my mother. I am not proud of many of them, but the least dangerous is her Imelda Marcos OCD shoe obsession.  I love shoes.  And Ma loved shoes.  To Ma it was all about what people (primarily the women in our Greek Orthodox congregation) really noticed, those careful finishing touches like icing flowers on a cake or the well-manicured lawn and fresh coat of paint on the siding of the house.
Her closet was filled, not with glamorous designer dresses, but with coats and shoes.  Pumps.  In every color.  All with a heel high enough to accentuate the line of her shapely legs.  Anyone looking at her would have to get a picture perfect view whether starting at the top or bottom.  Ah, great hat!  And that coat!  But wait, look at those shoes!  Or, great shoes, wow, those are some nice gams, but holy cow, look at that coat and hat!
Now she had her new black mink fur from Pavlis and Sons in Chicago and a new pair of black patent pumps, all a perfect match to her gold Cadillac with champagne leather interior.  And we were off to church to show it all off.   The mink and shoes that is.  She snapped when I asked if I could help her off with the fur once we got into the pew.
            “I’m fine,” she sharply but quietly snipped through her tell-tale Joker grin that would affix itself to her face as soon as we stepped through the church doors.
“But Ma, it’s hot in here,” I responded, confused.
“I’M FINE!” she hissed through her teeth, still smiling.
This is when I realized looking over her shoulder and down the front of the coat she wrapped so elegantly around herself that it was all she wore.  Fur coat, ratty underwear, greyed once-white slip, pantyhose with holes in the crotch and shiny black pumps.  I didn’t need her to open the coat to know what I’d find underneath.  This is what she had on as I saw her finishing her, as always, perfect make-up that morning.
Did she forget to dress?  How does one walk out of the house without clothes on?
With shiny black pumps of course!  And a fur coat. What else could possibly be required?