Monday, May 09, 2005

“Just remember one thing: we are loved in Belgium and in Italy.”

The Movie: Singles, 1992 (Cameron Crowe, director and screenwriter)
Who says it: Matt Dillon as grunge-band frontman Cliff Poncier
The context: Cliff’s band, Citizen Dick, has just played a disappointing show in Portland (Oregon, not Maine).
How to use it: To reassure yourself after a temporary setback.

Years ago, a reporter I worked with told me the story of his and his wife's whirlwind courtship. "Here's how sure I was," he said. "I married her without even knowing what she looked like in summer clothes."

Not being a New Englander, I didn't get it. In Virginia Beach, where I grew up, people wear pretty much the same things year round. In the winter, you throw on a jacket; in the summer, you might trade long pants for shorts. Washington is not much different, which is one reason people complain so much about the winters there (no one dresses for them).

But insulation is the key to surviving the winter in Maine, or New Hampshire, or Massachusetts, which I think is where this reporter and his wife went to college. If you wear enough clothes, and make sure your head, feet and hands are covered, the cold is truly not that bad.

As a result, though, we all spend five months looking like the Michelin Man. (Yes, some of us look enough like the Michelin Man without help. I'm working on it.) Winter clothes in New England are homogenizing, too; everyone looks the same in a storm coat, hat and boots.

Exhibit A: my trusty winter coat. I bought it a couple of years ago on sale at the Gap in Westwood, for a trip to Colorado I wound up not making. It was on sale because of its hideous color, which I'd politely call dirt brown. But it's the perfect weight, it has a removable hood, and it has enough pockets for even the hardest-core thug to carry all of his weapons, cell phone, beeper and stash.

I have worn this coat every day since November, except for the week I spent in Florida. (I even wore it in L.A. in January, because the weather was so bad while I was there.) I'm afraid to go through all of the pockets, because God only knows what I might find in some of them: ancient dog biscuits, PowerBar wrappers, post office receipts, phone numbers for calls I never returned, Nicole and Ron's real killer.

So this past weekend I planned a ritual. I'd go to the laundromat, clean out my pockets, and put The Coat into the big machine. When it came out of the dryer, I'd put it on a hanger, wrap the whole thing in plastic, and store the coat away for the next five months. It would be my official Farewell to Winter, Welcome to Spring.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Yesterday morning's temperature was 39. This morning it's up to 44. It's still raining.

At least I can put off cleaning out the pockets for a few more days.

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