I Don’t Want to ‘Be’ Somebody

I just want to buy a coat

Tony Russo

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Tony Russo in a winter hat

I understand that I might be tricky to shop for. In fact, I spend more time shopping for myself at Christmas than anyone else. My wife and my mom want “ideas” of things I would like. I don’t like most things. In fact, I am at least as good at not liking things as anyone else. It’s kind of a gift. Still, I know my mom wants to get me something that I’ll like and use but this year I was stumped.

This year, I needed a new coat. Who says 50-year-olds don’t grow out of their clothes? I felt pretty confident in the pick until my mother asked me what kind of coat, and could I send her some ideas. While it’s true that my mother hasn’t bought a coat for me in the last 30 years or more, it never occurred to me that she would want my opinion.

For the first 20 years she not only decided on my coat, but also my size. In the last three decades I’ve taken to getting my coats at Goodwill (I get most of my clothes there). My criteria maily has been, “Does it fit?” and “Is it stained?”

Patience is the key when you’re shopping Goodwill, and for a very long time, ways my wife and I would kill the occasional idle Saturday poking around there. It’s kind of like a clothes lottery: Will you find what you need when you need it?

Shopping online for clothes is a completely different experience and one I still can’t really get my head around. Or maybe I have my head too much around it. Since beginning my search I’ve become obsessed with the coat models. If I don’t like the guy’s face, I can’t buy (or ask my mom to buy) the coat.

It’s hard to get at, but the closest I’ve come is imagining that I was wearing the coat and the model (who was improbably at the same place) came up to me to point out that we were wearing the same coat. It’s uncomfortable when someone you don’t like complements your taste.

It sounds phobic, but I don’t want to risk having to make small talk with a guy I don’t like because we’re wearing the same coat.

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Tony Russo

Pencil-sharpening enthusiast, journalist, author of “Dragged Into the Light” https://amzn.to/3bLQ0Wi