Saturday, November 25, 2006
Happy Birthday, Gary!
Today is my beloved husband's birthday. (No, we won't be eating this cake, which isn't even a kind of cake we enjoy; it's a picture I found on the Internet. He's very anxious for me to inform you that he's only 55, not 60. Pretty cool that it features his name, though!) Tonight we'll be having a festive dinner out with a group of friends, two of whom also had birthdays this week, and most of whom are alumni of our Firefly Fridays, when we had people over to watch Joss Whedon's brilliant series. The highlight of those gatherings was singing the Firefly theme song; we all had lyric sheets, and we got better as the Fridays progressed. The fact that one of our friends is a world-class operatic soprano didn't hurt, although she did rather tend to outshine the rest of us.
Gary just opened his birthday gifts, one of which is Season One of Battlestar Galactica. Do we sense another Friday DVD series coming on? We may have to wait to do BSG, though; many people want to do a Buffy series, and the screen ratio doesn't work on our screen, so we may be doing Fridays at someone else's house for a while. I already have most of the musical episode of Buffy memorized -- which would be more impressive if I could actually sing -- so I'm greatly looking forward to Buffy karaoke with friends.
Anyway, when I initially asked Gary what he wanted for his birthday, he asked me to have his brown leather jacket relined. The lining had gotten so torn up that he'd cut it out completely, but then he had trouble getting his arms in the sleeves. He said that was all he wanted for his birthday, but I insisted on getting him a few things to open, too.
Yesterday I tackled the jacket relining project. I looked up "leather" in the phone book and called every business listed to see if they relined jackets. Only one did. They quoted me a flat price of $165. (Gary said, "That's why I said it was the only thing I wanted for my birthday!") Since I had no choice -- and since $165 is considerably less expensive than a new jacket -- I drove to the store to give them the jacket.
I should mention here that my fashion sense runs to "grungy casual" at best -- for me, dressing up is wearing shoes other than Keen sandals -- and yesterday, I was grungier than usual, because we'd hiked for two hours in the morning and I hadn't changed. I was wearing khaki jeans, running shoes, a white cotton turtleneck, and a venerable fleece jacket liberally adorned with cat hair.
Wrong outfit, although I don't think I own anything that would constitute the right outfit in this place. It's one of those leather-and-fur emporia featuring $2,700 ostritch-leather jackets, cunning little chinchilla scarves for a mere $500, and bargain-basement cashmere-lined leather gloves for $85. (I was tempted by those, I must admit, but $85 is far too much to pay for a pair of gloves, especially since I lose gloves about as often as I lose socks.) I expected to run into Cruella DeVil every time I turned a corner.
The proprietor was a distinguished looking gentleman with a thick European accent -- Italian, I think, although it's entirely possible that he's really from New Jersey and faking it for the job, the way the Grand Venice Canal gondeliers do in Vegas -- who was wearing an exquisitely tailored suit, approximately one quart of cologne, and gold-and-diamond jewelry. When he saw me coming, his nostrils flared; he was clearly resisting the urge to take a step backwards. (Hey, I can relate: anyone who's ever spent time in an ED has had the same experience with well-marinated patients.) When I put the jacket down on the counter, his eyebrows rose.
"I'd like to have my husband's jacket relined," I told him.
He used the tip of one finger to arrange the jacket so he could look at the inside. Then he coughed and made a strangling noise. "We make the pattern from the existing lining, you understand? There is no lining here."
I called Gary. No, he hadn't kept the lining. Meanwhile, the shopkeeper was looking down at the jacket -- well worn, its cloth cuffs pilled and liberally adorned with cat hair -- and snorting in amazement. "He cut out the lining," he said, in a tone that made it perfectly clear that this is the wrong way to remove a lining.
"I guess so. Can you reline it?"
He sighed and cast his eyes heavenward. "Maybe, maybe, I don't know. We will try. It will take longer, you understand? We will have to make the pattern from scratch. It will cost you more, because labor here costs $75 an hour. We will charge you $200."
Well, I didn't have much choice, so I put down a $100 deposit and watched the shopkeeper, his nose wrinkling, put the jacket on a hanger. I giggled all the way home, and when I got back to the house, I told Gary, "You have to come with me when I pick up the jacket, just for cultural anthropology. I think the extra $35 was really a biohazard-handling charge."
Gary shook his head. "You know that they'll farm this relining project out to somebody from the Philippines who'll do it in thirty seconds and make fifteen cents, right?"
When we go back, we're seriously considering wearing our very worst clothing and carrying brown-bagged bottles of Strawberry Ripple, just to watch the shopkeeper freak out completely. But that would be mean, wouldn't it?