Despite my parents being modest, down to earth people, I was an incredibly vain child. I remember being maybe eight years old when my mother bought me a purple parka that was ugly as sin. I screamed and swore I’d never be caught dead in the coat and I think my mom was pretty close to returning it just to appease me.
Enter, my dad.
In an effort to break me of my snobbery and teach me a lesson that appearances aren’t everything, he said if I wanted to leave the house I had to wear the coat. That was the day I was supposed to go to the movies with my friend Kirsten, and so of course, I didn’t want to break plans, but I’d be damned if anyone was going to see me in public wearing the hideous jacket.
So I kicked, screamed, and pounded my fists until my father finally yelled in exasperation, “YOU ARE WEARING THE COAT! Put a bag over your head for all I care!” That was when a slow smile spread over my face…Yesssss, a bag! I was amazed I hadn’t thought of it before! So I cut two eye holes in a brown grocery sack and proceeded to skip to the coat closet to put on the horrendous outerwear. I think at that point my parents were thinking something along the lines of, “Oh, fuck it” and so they grudgingly took my friend and I to the movies (I wore the bag the entire time). I’ll actually never forget the cashier saying to my father, “Oh, I’m so sorry, is she a burn victim?” when she collected our ticket money. My father just mumbled, “Um, no, she just hates her coat.”
Needless to say, I never saw that parka again. My mom told me it was “lost in the laundry” but I’m sure she gave it to some friend whose child didn’t throw tantrums when she was made to wear lavender. And even though my dad crashed and burned when it came to teaching me about being a superficial brat, he succeeded in imparting a far more abstruse life lesson (especially for women to learn): hold your ground and call their bluff and you’ll always get your way. Thanks, Dad!