We stood before the closet for the longest time this morning.
“What are you doing?” I asked Gretchen.
“Trying to figure out which coat to wear,” she said.
I laughed. You see, the closet is filled with coats. I will go so far as to make a confession for Gretchen — she has a coat obsession.
“Why are you laughing, Rubin?”
“Yeah, I know,” she confessed (on her own), “But it’s important to have options.”
She then went on to explain how the weather in Seattle requires two raincoats — one for the light and occasional rain and one more sturdy for the endless cascading rain (the kind we had today). But a raincoat, she tried to explain, doesn’t keep you warm in the winter nor does one always need a raincoat. So apparently that explained all the other coats lined up in the closet.
“Do I wear a lightweight vest under the raincoat today?” she asked, “Or something a tad bit warmer?”
Now, if we just focused on the vests, the decision is still not very easy because there are lightweight vests, heavy fleece vests, and even a down vest. “I don’t think it’s too cold out there,” I suggested.
“Then maybe I’ll just wear a long-sleeved shirt over my t-shirt,” she said.
“Sounds like a plan,” I snickered.
If the weather were colder and something more than a vest were required, there are a plethora of long-sleeve coats to choose from as well. Many are fleece (the Seattle staple), but some are lightweight and some are down. A couple are even boiled wool.
I, on the other hand, have one coat — which I hate — and when we finally got ready to go (Gretchen wearing her sturdy, bright-green raincoat with a long sleeve shirt underneath), she pulled out my red coat (which acts as both a raincoat and a fleece coat). “Noooooooo!” I screamed and ran up the stairs to hide in the bedroom.
“Oh, Rubin,” Gretchen said, “It’s pouring down rain! You’ll get soaked.”
“Why is it,” I asked from my perch under the bed, “I’m allowed to go swimming and get soaked, but when it rains, I have to wear a coat?”
There was silence in response to my question, then finally, “Rubin, I don’t really have time for this. We have dogs to walk — Ollie, Rosie, Zoe, Gemma and Saber — we’re on a tight schedule buddy.” (You can tell how gray and rainy it was today by the dark nature of the photographs and the fact that most photos were taken under some kind of cover so we didn’t get super wet!)
“Because when you swim, it’s warm and you dry off fast,” she finally said with a bit of a huff.
“Today isn’t that cold,” I pointed out.
“True, but once you get wet — and today you’ll get soaked it’s raining so hard — you won’t dry out as fast since it’s cooler out and you’ll get cold,” was her explanation.
“Have you ever seen me get cold?” I asked.
“Only after you’ve been swimming for a long time,” she admitted.
“Can we just try it without the coat today?” I pleaded.
“Sorry buddy, but I think you must wear the coat.” And with that, I crawled out from my hiding spot and donned the unbearably awful coat. “Think of it this way, Rubin,” Gretchen tried to console me, “Ollie has to wear one, too, so you’re really helping him feel more comfortable by wearing yours.”
I didn’t respond, but thought to myself Why do I want to help him adjust to this awful coat-wearing experience?
Luckily, by the end of the day — after Ollie, Rosie (who didn’t have to wear HER coat), Gemma (who likes to wear a coat), Zoe (who didn’t need to wear one because it hardly rained), and Saber (who never wears a coat) — the rain subsided and I was able to go out in the world sans coat. Gretchen even took off her raincoat (though she kept on her rain pants — too hard to pull them over her rain boots) and we all eventually dried out.
“Gretchen,” I said later that afternoon, “I think you need to winnow out some of your coats.”
“Yeah, buddy,” she confessed, “I think you’re right.” And then she added, “Winnow? Where did you learn words like “winnow?”
I didn’t respond. I just smiled and thought about bringing up the need to winnow out the shoes and backpacks that have collected in the closets just under all the coats!