One night, when the temperature dropped below zero, and we felt as though we were in a Laura Ingalls Wilder book, my boyfriend and I walked home from work. We complained all the way, though we were dressed for the cold. We wore identical Air Force parkas with synthetic fur-trimmed hoods.
Only were the parkas identical? His was navy blue. Was mine sage-green? I know I once had a sage-green Air Force parka. It was an Air Force parka knock-off for women, in a prettier color than the navy blue. Was his a real Air Force parka? Where would he have bought it? The Army-Navy store? But did the Army-Navy store sell Air Force jackets?
I’m thinking of the parka, because a friend sent me an old picture of this boyfriend in the parka. He was at a poetry reading at a local bookstore, having a drink and talking to a couple of literary friends. All of them had coats on. The bookstore must have been cold. I have noticed, however, that men seldom take off their coats at these events, because they want to be ready to take off when they get bored.
I wonder if my husband – my true love, not the boyfriend – remembers my Air Force parka. Was it blue or green? But, no, I don’t think he would remember. The winter I met him, he himself was wearing a strange system of layers of coats, which led a friend to think he was poor. He wasn’t poorer than the rest of us – it was a neo-poor prairie-macho fashion he thought up himself.
And then he, too, got a parka.