Juicy what? I followed the direction of his eyes. He was apparently referring to my new coat.
I’d just bought it at Barney's that week. No, I’m not that gay. Okay, maybe I am, but not when it comes to clothing. I’d never even heard of Juicy Couture and I don’t shop at Barney’s, not even during a blowout sale.
But a friend of mine gave me what is supposed to be the gay Holy Grail: a 200-dollar gift certificate to the Coop. Like giving a color TV to a blind man.
“Thanks,” I said as I unwrapped the gift, pulling out a red plastic card. I feigned what I thought was the appropriate amount of excitement and to make sure he knew I was appreciative, added, “Was just thinking I needed to buy a good coat.”
My friend looked at me like I just poured ketchup all over his prime rib.
Ten minutes. I was in and out with my new coat. Black, shiny with a fur trim on the hood. A little over the top but it was the most understated thing I could find. Didn’t even matter that the only size they had was too small. I knew I’d probably never come back again and besides, a little mid-section draft never killed anyone.
Then it happened. Like a high-school crush you develop over time, I actually grew to like it. I noticed every time I put it on I felt chic, trendy even. Who knew? There was a nelly little shopping queen in me this whole time. All it took for her to come out was some fake fur and down feathers.
It was love at third sight. I’d found my coat-mate.
Now someone’s asking me for the brand name and I feel like a man who’s forgotten his wife’s birthday. So I fake it.
“Yeah cool stuff.”
“I have the same exact one. Is yours a small?
“Mine too. Where did you buy it?”
Am I really having this conversation?
“I bought mine at Bloomingdale's.”
This is getting too much airtime. My eyes start to wonder to the sides, I’m desperately looking for other people in the room to rescue me but no one’s close enough to save me from the gayest moment since Ryan Seacrest sucked face with Terri Hatcher. Somewhere Judy Garland must be kvelling like a Jewish mother on graduation day.
“We should make sure we don’t accidentally walk off with the wrong coat,” he says to me as we arrive at the party. “I’ll put mine here. You put yours over there,” he points to the other side of bench.
“In case things get all messed up, just remember I have a pair of black gloves in one of the pocket,” he says before curtsying off.
I’m not too worried. I know where he’ll be later. At Hiro. We’re all planning on going there next, after midnight. It’s New Year’s Eve.
We drink, we get drunk, we’re having a good time. At one point the man with the twin coat waves good-bye. He's off. An hour later, the party is dwindling down. We'll all getting ready to leave. I find my coat at the same place I left it. I put it on. But when I stick my hands in the pockets, a foreign object. I pull it out. A bundle of yarn. Two black gloves.
Bloomingdale’s boy walked off with my coat. After all those warnings.
I arrive at the club, check the coat that’s not mine and hold on to the ticket. It takes me 20 minutes to pin point him among the hundreds of half naked boys with stubble on their back. But I finally find him.
“Where’s your ticket?” I say, irritated.
“Your coat check ticket, where is it?”
“Because I think you have my coat.”
“Nope. I’m pretty sure I’ve got the right one.”
“But there were gloves in the pocket. Black fingerless ones.”
“Mine have fingers.”
Suddenly, it hits me. A third coat. Same color, same make, on the same night, at the same party, on the very same bench. Black gloves in one of the pockets. What are the odds?
I contemplate going back but it's too late now. At the end of the night I head over to the coat check, hand in my ticket, and sadly get the coat I know is not mine. It's almost identical, but it feels different. It's not quite as shiny, though it could be just the bad lighting at the club. I know it shouldn't matter but it doesn't feel chic anymore. Feels used, a hand-me-down.
I open the jacket, look inside. Then I see it. A small difference. Minute. One letter that sets it apart from mine.
Well, at least the size is right, I think to myself, then head home.