The Empress's New Coat

By Jeanne Marie Laskas
Sunday, February 11, 2007

The husband has an announcement: "I will never shop with you again," he says. That's nice, dear, I think, wondering why he always says this. The thing is, he never backs it up. He always says he'll never shop with me again, and then he always shops with me again. What is the matter with him?

"The only problem is I don't know when, or where, I'd wear it," I say, admiring the faux shearling coat (30 percent off!) that I have fallen head over heels in love with. It's tan, luxurious -- and surprising. The surprise is the faux-cheetah collar and cuffs that seem to shout: "Surprise!" At least that's how I read it. "Where does one wear a coat like this?" I ask.

"Just buy it, and we can work that part out later," he says.

"It's surprising, don't you think?"

"No --"

"Like, if the whole thing were faux cheetah, it would just be obnoxious," I say. "And if the whole thing were faux shearling, it would be completely pedestrian. But the cheetah says, 'Wee-hoo!'"

"Right, so let's just buy it," he says.

Oh, please. He knows I need time. I need to meet the coat, get to know it, ascertain its personality. "You know I have to process this," I say.

"Yeah, but you're processing what the coat is not," he says.

I look at him: You're going to tell me how to process?

He looks at me: You better process quick, lady, 'cause I got the keys to the car.

You get this far into a marriage, shop together this many times, and you don't always need words. Not that this stops you:

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