Wednesday, January 25, 2012

On coats and privilege.



Morning after morning, my teenage daughters fly out of the house without coats.
The car, replete with heated seats, is steps from the door. The driveway at school is steps from the sidewalk, which is steps from their lockers. We’re not cold, they say.

After school they join a parade of girls running with sleeves pulled down over the tips of their fingers, shivering as they make a short dash to the gym. Post-sports, they run outside to the car in shorts and sneakers, flushed with effort, not icy wind. They are not cold.

What if the car breaks down and you have to walk?
What if there is a fire drill and you have to stand outside?

They blink, say nothing, but I know what they are thinking. We’ll go wait at Starbucks. We’ll call Triple A. We won’t be cold.

Walking twenty blocks to a mean little Manhattan cubicle. Waiting for a bus to take you to another bus that takes you to the only internship you could find. Holding a traffic flag on an icy street, watching your breath condense into shapes to relieve the boredom. Dressing in a chicken costume and waving as cars pass you in the snow, as you wish you were inside them, and not your golden feathers.

The hard real world is coming, girls. And you are going to be cold.

5 comments:

Elizabeth Mosier said...

Yes, yes, yes! Those memories of trekking across the Walnut Street bridge to 30th Street Station, ridiculously dressed in eight layers and snot running from my nose in the 15-degree wind, send me to the Eddie Bauer site to search for sales on full-length down coats with hoods that my daughters disdain.

kelly said...

We all own that coat! I think people don't get cold until they are 20.

Da Butcha said...

I walk around campus at Montco, there are kids wearing shorts. I just don't get it.

kelly said...

I guess legs don't get cold.

off kilter said...

My son walked around Manhattan, the one day it snowed there this fall wearing a J. Crew blazer. No hat, no gloves, no boots, a jaunty scarf around his neck. He had an internship in Midtown and I've never seen him so happy or self-confident. He's 21. Not cold yet, but it's coming. I want to wrap him up like I did when he was two.