Thursday, February 19, 2015

Splatter: My Poor Coat

On Saturday, we had our Valentine's Day lunch at Boston Burger, a casual place that serves excellent burgers, mainly to the college crowd. We are not foodies; our tastes are too simple. We both feel that expertly made burgers, burritos, and pizza are generally more satisfying than the fancy and expensive dishes that we like to call "snooty food." 

On Valentine's Day in 1998, we'd been eating burgers in a similar place when my husband pulled out a ring box, shocked me speechless, and proposed. But this fact didn't occur to me until just now, as I'm writing this. We were too distracted last Saturday to wax nostalgic. 

Boston Burger has 28 burgers, including some weird ones,* along with the usual custom options. I decided on grilled mushrooms, pickles, and cheese. Our table was close to the servers' station and, as we waited for our food, someone dropped a full plate with a burger, chips, and a ramekin of baked beans close to our table. The food went flying.

We had both worn our shearling coats because it was very cold, and I thought my husband's must be ruined since he was sitting with his back to the mess, with his coat on the back of his chair. But his coat looked fine. Then I looked down and saw baked beans on my chair. My coat was streaked with beans, even though I was sitting against the wall — and sitting on top of much of my coat, which I'd tried to bunch up underneath me since it would otherwise be dragging on the floor. The food must have bounced on the floor with the plate's impact... and then it flew up and across our table to land on my coat. Wow.

My coat is British, a full-length, dark brown shearling with long, fluffy Toscana trim. It's the warmest piece of clothing I've ever owned and probably the most expensive.** (I would never wear fur, but I eat beef and lamb, and thus I wear leather and shearling. And I do all these things with a similar, small amount of guilt.) At least the coat was close in color to the baked beans, but there were plenty of obvious stains. Our server brought me a damp cloth and I tried to remove what I could. They use some kind of BBQ ingredients in the beans, so the coat was pungent. Then the server told me that she always got good results from the cleaning solution on the cloth. Oh, no: I'd thought it was only water. Cleaning solutions are risky for shearling. I was given another cloth with plain water.

Before our food arrived, we changed tables because there were beans on the floor and the wall. The burgers were terrific; the beans, not so much. While we were eating, the assistant manager came by and told us our meal was free. He was very nice. I told him my coat would need to be cleaned, and he gave me the manager's card, told me send him the bill, and I'd be reimbursed.

When we got home, my coat smelled of beans and looked worse than we'd thought, streaky and darkened in big patches, and smelly. Yesterday, I took it to the nearest fur shop. The woman who helped me was horrified but hopeful since the people who clean shearling for them often perform miracles. Apparently the brown sugar and/or molasses in the baked beans will be the challenge. She recorded all the damage, sniffing and exclaiming over the aroma. I tried to empty the pockets before she could, but wasn't quick enough. She stuck her hand in one and pulled it right out: "There's something prickly in there." Oh, right.  I'd picked up a few sweet-gum burrs, those round things covered with stickers that you see all over the ground (or snow) these days. I thought the cats would like batting them around. (And they're exciting to step on in bare feet, too.)

The cleaning bill was $140. My coat will be ready in three weeks and I will be nervous and chilly until then. One of my best techniques for surviving New England winters is to have a warm coat that I love, and that shearling was It.*** The next few weeks will be even chillier than I'd been expecting. 

I will take the bill to Boston Burger in the next few days and see how that goes. I expect it will be fine, but if it isn't, you'll be hearing about it here. I will also report about my poor coat when it comes home.

* The King features peanut butter, bacon, and fried bananas, along with a dusting of cinnamon and sugar. I'm glad one of those didn't land on my coat.

** I can't remember how much my first wedding gown, a Priscilla of Boston, cost in the '80s, but it was probably about the same as the coat, although I got the gown for half price. I got the coat deeply on sale, too. Of course. 

*** My worst technique, when the apartment in the 60s because of our old windows, is to imagine that it's August during a heatwave and that we magically have central air. That line of thought is worthless.


  1. oh your poor coat. What a to do. I hope they can get all the stink and gunge out.

    I love a good burger, but I would not like it down the back of my coat either!


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