Thursday, March 18, 2010

Anarita and the Gray Fleece Jacket

Anarita had a gray fleece zip-up jacket that she loved. She picked it out on the annual August back-to-school clothes shopping day. Once a year, she got somewhere between $50-$100 in new clothes, and hand-me-downs from Victor, Alice, and Joe. She especially liked wearing her dad's old clothes. Over the years, she would accept his old jean jacket, Carhart jacket, flannel shirts, and hiking boots. Many Halloweens she wore his Hunter Orange, because half the time it snowed on Halloween anyway.

The gray fleece was carried from class to class in the junior high halls and worn on the walks to and from school and at lunch. Perhaps because she carried it around to so many places, one day she lost it and never found it again. When her dad found out, he was furious. At the dinner table, he yelled at her for a long time for losing the jacket, after already yelling at her for leaving her book bag by the door. He fumed for the rest of the evening, because once something set him off, there was no shutting it down. He yelled about irresponsibility and money and "How many times have I...." Maybe even something about earning money to buy a new jacket from her allowance, and probably 10 other things that she had done wrong in the past few years.

So she rechecked every place she could imagine that it might be, but to no avail. However, a few days later, her dad apologized to her at dinner. He said something about how she was usually responsible. Mom must have said something to him at a time when he was able to listen. But it was awkward and uncomfortable. It wouldn't undo the past days of her feeling guilty about losing it. No, she would rather he didn't apologize, because she still preferred the hard-fought and well-prepared fantasy that parents are always right and always know what to do. An apology did not fit that perception. Plus, he wasn't good at it and never would be.

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