In downtown Chicago today, we're waiting to see which extreme the predicted wintery mix will bring.
If snow, Thing 1 will send the revolving hotel door spinning, running out with mouth open, tongue out, sucking in every flake. I'll ask her if Chicago snow tastes better than what we have in the New England suburbs and I'm sure she'll yes. Everything tastes better when you're outdoors in the city. Air pollution must be urban MSG.
If freezing rain, she'll whine and claim the only thing that can save her is room service mac-n-cheese at $12 a plate. Me, I'll be worrying about whether her new pink-and-green marshmallow of a winter coat is water resistant in any degree.
This gets me thinking of her blue Snoopy slicker.
I saw it on the rack at Super Target some eight years ago, and tossed it into the cart without a blink. Of course, she was still in Huggies and attached to My Love's breast at the time of purchase, so a vinyl World War I Flying Ace rain jacket in size "youth small" was not an immediate need.
But it seemed like the right one.
As a child, a certain goggle-and-scarf-clad beagle saved me from many hours of boredom. The bookshelf in my room was packed with every "Peanuts" paperback on the market. A stuffed Snoopy and Woodstock sat on my bedspread, guarding it when I wasn't around. And hanging down from the ceiling was a mobile of a dog on top of his red doghouse, his paws grasping an invisible yoke as he circled around and around, going nowhere.
Thing 1 eventually grew into the raincoat. It served her well throughout pre-school and beyond. Then a few months ago, when the summer sky turned dark and threatening, I told her to grab it before we headed out.
"I think I need a new raincoat," I heard her say behind me.
The yellow-banded sleeves were up to the middle of her forearms.
"You can get by with it for an hour, let's go."
"I don't think so."
"Then wait here," I said.
I returned with my camera.
"Why are you taking my picture," she asked. "Are you going to sell it on the computer?"
"Maybe. Or I'm going post this photo on Craigslist and see if I can trade you in for a smaller kid who fits the jacket."
"Noooo, Daddy! ... Really?"
"Nah," I said, "sometimes parents just need to take photos."
Three months have past. Snoopy still hangs in the basement locker back home, overseeing a mess of other crumpled clothing, stray Sippy lids, outgrown tap shoes and forgotten Crayola masterpieces piled upon each other.
He'll leave us someday to help another kid who needs shelter from the storm. Just not today.
My Uncool Past
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