The world has gotten a lot more complicated in the last 50 years, I think. What I mean by that is that people (most, at least) used to feel no guilt about having diamonds and wanting fur coats. And if they DID feel guilt, it was for being too materialistic. Nowadays, however, we not only know how many little minks go into a fur coat, we also know how much suffering and corruption goes into a diamond ring, and it gives us pause.
My Grandma is getting older, as we all are, and is starting to give away some of her more prized possessions. This is partly because she's getting older, and partly because she was robbed a few years ago, and lost some of the things she would have liked to pass on, so she has decided to do some of this while still alive. She has already given me a BEAUTIFUL gold bracelet, which my uncle brought her from Saudi Arabia. I got it over the other female granddaughters, because I am the one who is closest in size to my Grandma, who has tiny bird bones, so it really wouldn't have fit anyone else. I have to soap up to wear it, and it cuts my skin a bit to take it off, so I tend to put it on and wear it for quite awhile. I'm wearing it now, and I put it on to wear for Thanksgiving dinner. Not joking. She has also promised me her diamond engagement ring, in her will. I'm not as fond of diamonds as the next girl, but I do like the sparkle, and there is no guilt for me in a diamond that was harvested lo those many years ago, because I didn't contribute to it by making a purchase. So I'm fine with that. (I have a diamond in my engagement ring as well...it was from Ted's mother's engagement ring...any other diamonds in my possession were new. Full disclosure. ;) )
Well, a few years ago, while visiting my Grandma's house, she suddenly popped up with, "J, would you like my fur coat?" My mom was visiting from Alaska, so she got to watch the emotions cross my face...the revulsion, the not wanting to hurt Grandma's feelings, the secret love of something so soft and pretty, the "where would I wear such a thing"...I finally decided to take it, with the same logic of the diamond ring, that it wasn't new, and there was nothing to be done for those poor animals now anyway. They had been dead for a LONG time. Still didn't know where I would feel comfortable wearing it, since I don't hang out at Republican conventions or anything...but OK, it won't fit any of the cousins, so I'll take it. She went into the other room to get the coat, and brought out the coat. My Grandma's house is very dark and dim, and she brought out a lovely dark brown coat with a lighter shawl collar. I try it on. It fits me perfectly. I sink into its softness...wait...not so soft. I say, "Grandma, what kind of fur is this?" "Oh, fur, I guess. I'm not sure." "Where did Grandpa buy this for you?" (My Grandpa WORSHIPPED my Grandma, and would only have bought her the BEST) "Oh, Grandpa didn't buy it for me...I bought it for myself." So, I pack up the coat, wondering what being in a house with two people who smoke like chimneys for 30 or 40 years would do to a fur coat. Why isn't it soft? Where would I WEAR such a thing?
So I bring it home, and I think, I need to get it treated. It doesn't look quite so beautiful outside of the dim darkness, either. I need to fix it. I can't stand the thought of the brittle fur...the animals have died in vain, and they shouldn't have. They shouldn't have the indignity of smelling like cigarettes, either. So I look in the phone book, and find a man who will clean it for me, and also store it. STORE IT? Boy, I'm entering another world here. You should store your fur coat somewhere safe, humidity and temperature controlled, because otherwise it can be damaged...I'm thinking, you should see THIS coat...that's probably what's wrong with the poor thing. It's all dried out from the dry air in Stockton, plus the heat and the smoking... So I call him. Guess what? You don't go to him, he comes to you. He doesn't want anyone to know where his storage facility is, because he is afraid that someone will break in and steal all of the coats he is storing. Oh. OK. So, I tell him where I work, and he comes and meets me in the parking lot. I open the trunk of the car, somewhat ashamed that I am one of these people who owns a fur...even though HE certainly isn't about to judge me. He picks it up. Looks at it. Looks at me, pityingly. "It's fake." "It's fake?", I say. "It's fake." I am SO FUCKING RELIEVED!!! He was surely shocked to see the big grin on my face, as I thank him for his time and pack the smelly thing up. How many of his clients would be thrilled to have inherited a fake fur? I'm guessing not too many. He drove away, shaking his head, and I happily went back inside to work. Whew. No more worries. Then I start to wonder about the diamond in the ring...but no, my Grandpa bought that, and like I said, only the best for Grandma. She's just not as savvy a shopper as he was.
The end to the story is that I took the coat to the dry cleaners, and it no longer smells like cigarettes, but I don't wear it. I'm afraid some people will think it's real, and be horrified, and other people will KNOW it's fake, and think I don't know better, and think I'm an idiot. So it sits there, lonely, wishing so many cotton plants hadn't died for its creation.
Buy me a drink sometime, and I'll tell you about my shotgun...
(Sorry for the lame pic...I was just trying to take a picture of myself in the coat in the mirror...and we all know how well THAT works. HA! What a dork.)