One of the foolish things that I did before heading off to the UK was to not bring a coat. With my bags packed and ready to go to the airport, I grabbed it and wondered “should I take this?” It was a 32C day, I had enough to carry as it was, I was going to be in the UK in the middle of the summer and I had plenty of time to buy one before I did need one in the fall. I put it back.
The British weather didn’t seem to agree. The first few days here were cool, wet, windy and downright miserable. I walked around the city in the one long sleeved shirt that I brought, through the frigid drizzle and highs in the low teens, on the verge of pneumonia. Finding a jacket became a more prominent item on my London todo list.
On Saturday, I found myself in Harrods. Its coats, however, were not the compelling reason for being there; I was there for Laduree. The day before I had a discussion about macaroons and how I should have some. A quick search led to Laduree and its London locations. The place seemed suitably fancy. If I was going to try macaroons it was best to start with quality. When I found myself in Kensington last Saturday afternoon, I knew I had to go to Harrods to try them. Being there, I could check out their menswear department too. Unfortunately for me it was the last day of a large sale and the place was packed and the stock was dwindled.
The few found jackets that I liked didn’t exist in my size (fat ass) or were attached to a nice sticker that said, as if it was nothing, “£1300“. Such jackets were just a tad outside of the “impulse buy” range. Or any range, for that matter. Then I saw a pair of “sport” jackets. Nothing fancy, affordable, thin, light and they provided the proper wind and rain protection that I wanted. More importantly, it fit.
I slipped it on and zipped it up and went to the mirror. It was alright. I zipped it up to the top to see if my fat neck would fit — it did — and then played around with the bottom zipper a bit. I was confused why it would need two zippers and surmised that it was there in case you ever felt the need to air out your belly button. I moved it half way up until the jacket looked like a cloak. I was satisfied by its zippiness. Then, as I started to unzip from the top, I hit a roadblock. The zipper got stuck just below the neck. I tried yanking it harder, but it wasn’t going.
Having seen me fiddling in front of the mirror, one of the uniformed employees, a long haired blonde, asked me if I needed any help. After a moment of hesitation I admitted my shame: I couldn’t get the zipper off. She said it was alright and tried to help as if I was a little child. “Oh, it’s really stuck,” she said with a more serious tone. “I’m going to get some help.” As if my embarrassment needed more witnesses.
Soon I was being yanked on by a guy with greased back hair. He too had no luck. “Hold on, I’m going to get someone senior.”
At this point I’ve had the jacket on for a few minutes and, being the middle of the summer, I was starting to sweat a little. It was funny at first but now I wanted the damned thing off. An older, grey haired gentleman was directed my way. The bottom zipper was stuck in the fabric but knowing that didn’t make the process any easier. Twice I tried to slip the jacket off over my head, but it wouldn’t fit over my fat noggin. The zipper was too high up and too restrictive. If we could lower it a tad I’d be free, but the zipper was having none of it.
As he was playing around with the zipper I began to quip about how embarrassing this is, how this isn’t a good first impression to a potential buyer, how it feels like I’m in a straight-jacket and what David Blaine’s next act should be. Though I doubt even he could work his way out of this trap.
Fifteen minutes later (it felt like an eternity, but it was probably considerably less time than that), with the jacket slung over my head, the manager managed to yank the fabric out. I smoothly slid the zipper to the bottom, opening the jacket wide open, and took it right off. Relief. I placed it back on the rack, thanked the man, grabbed my bag and headed straight out of the men’s department. It didn’t matter if they had the perfect jacket for me hiding on the racks somewhere, I was done.
Moments later I bought macaroons at Laduree. The caramel salted butter one made the entire ordeal worthwhile.