Root Canal Misery to Fur Coat Comfort

ThFur Coat_1990_2e Chicago wind slapped my face as I stepped out of the dentist’s office on Valentine’s Day in 1988. I’d just finished my first root canal and had no plans for a romantic evening … or any romantic prospects on the horizon.

It was 3 pm and I felt lousy. Instead of returning to work, I wandered around the Chicago Loop. The hearts, chocolate, gorgeous strappy dresses, and sexy shoes on display worsened my mood.”What a lousy holiday,” I thought.

Heading to my El stop, I passed a window display of mannequins draped in luxurious full-length fur coats. I paused and walked inside.

[Putting this moment into historical context … in the 80s, women’s “dress for success” attire involved skirt suits with silk blouses, nylons, and 3-inch heels. Chicago was a glamorous—but cold—city to show up that way. Fur coats provided a practical and elegant solution for high-end professional women. I aspired to be one of them.]

Before I knew it, I was in the changing room trying on furs. I fell in love with a black full-length mink with a fox fur tuxedo collar. It draped me in luxury The soft fox fur tickled my chin. I imagined how much warmer I’d be walking around Chicago to business and social events. Laughing and longing, I took it off. My wool coat seemed shabby and thin as I pulled it back on.

Emerging from the changing room, the clerk told me about their lay-away plan and Valentine’s Day sale. She sold me.

My steps were lighter walking out of the furrier. I caught my reflection in the window as I left—a lopsided smile broke through the fading Novocaine.

By Valentine’s Day 1989, I’d paid off my fur coat and wore it strolling around holding hands with my fiancé! He did not buy me a fur coat but has been my partner for 33 years.

I lost a dear friend to cancer thirteen years ago. One of her parting messages to me was to  live more “Fur Coat” stories.

Thank you, Astrid.


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