Monday, May 27, 2013

Call THAT a Raincoat?

Last fall, at the Freeport outlets, I splurged on a Cole Haan raincoat, a sleek, black nylon "travel" model that folds into a little bag. It has a hood and all kinds of storm flaps, and, while it's advertised as "water-resistant," rather than "waterproof," I assumed this pricey coat would keep me dry in anything short of a deluge, and the salespeople agreed. I'd been wanting a waterproof, lightweight raincoat for a long time — something simple, without a belt. This coat seemed to be exactly what I wanted.

Since I got it, I've hardly had a chance to wear it. When it's cold and drizzly, I wear my Barbour jacket with a few layers under it. Or I stay inside.

I thought I'd wear my new coat in London, but it only rained for about an hour the week we were there. A nylon coat is not ideal for sunny, spring weather; it gets hot quickly. Before we left I noticed that there were already holes in two of its three pockets, even though it was barely worn and the pockets are too small to hold much. I repaired them with my pathetic sewing skills, but realized that the pockets are so poorly bound, with such a skimpy amount of fabric, that they will never be able to handle much more than tissues and a credit card, certainly not my keys or my phone.

That should have made me suspicious....

So, on Friday night, I was almost pleased that it was cool and rainy as we headed for dinner at Marliave, downtown. Finally, a chance to wear my coat. Since it wasn't raining that hard, we decided to walk to the restaurant. I zipped up and pulled the hood down to my eyes.

As we sped along in steady rain, sharing an umbrella, I noticed that my neck and the back of my shirt felt odd. Then my sleeves felt similarly odd. They were getting soaked. The hood was also leaking and soaking my hair. I was wearing tall boots and heavy denim leggings. The coat is 3/4-length, so water was pouring down it onto my knees. Cold water soaked my leggings and spread all the way inside my boots, tricking down my legs and puddling at my feet.

We decided to take the T at Arlington Street, maybe a half mile from our apartment. I unzipped the coat and found I was drenched, neck to toe. Head, too. Dripping. I might have stayed drier by not wearing a coat and positioning myself more strategically under our big umbrella. I wondered if the coat had strange powers. It was as though every drop of rain that fell anywhere near me was attracted by its magic, then was sucked through its fabric, and and deposited onto me.

My husband was quite dry in his Barbour. Somehow, his pants weren't even soaked, even though Barbours aren't very long.

At the restaurant, they gave me a stack of disposable towels. I'd packed a cashmere cardigan in case it was cold, so I removed my wet button-down and wore that. (I was carrying a nylon Longchamp tote that's old and has holes, but the sweater was dry. If only Longchamp made raincoats.)

I blotted and combed my hair and joined our group for dinner. I rolled my dripping shirt into a little ball and stucked it inside the hood of the coat, which was already much drier than I was. And then I shivered at the table for three hours, chilled and sodden from the waist down. I used my dinner napkin as a tiny blanket.

Fortunately, the company was fun and diverting, and the food was wonderful. I love the Marliave, there are so many appealing, decadent choices on its menu — everything from pizza to Beef Wellington, and all of it tasty and homemade, including the bread, pasta, and ice cream. As I was feeling somewhat cranky (and justifiably so, I thought) I decided to order whatever I wanted. As usual, I wanted cheese. So I started a beet salad with goat cheese and then I had their womderful truffled macaroni and cheese. Beet salads are usually mostly beets with bits of cheese here and there. Not this one: it looked like a small layer cake with three huge beet slices sandwiched together with generous layers of goat cheese "frosting," plus a few greens and toasted nuts. I could only finish half of my bowl of perfect, creamy, truffled mac and cheese. I had to save room for butterscotch pudding. I also had a cup of tea that failed to warm me up.

I dried off my chair with my damp napkin before we left. Back home, I peeled off soaked layers and stepped into a hot bubble bath. But I was already so tired of being wet that lying there bothered me. The kittens distracted me until I was warm enough to get out — they are still fascinated with bubbles and like to paw at them and eat them.

I went straight to bed. I haven't caught a cold... yet. But that stupid coat is going back to Cole Haan on our upcoming trip to Freeport. I have the receipt, it's guaranteed, and it's a disaster.

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