Thursday, January 24, 2008

Heavy thoughts about a warm coat?

(Tribune photo by Abel Uribe / January 19, 2008)

Those are pigeons huddling for warmth around the Eternal Flame in the Daley Center Plaza last week.

I don't know what's huddling around the flame this morning... it's below zero out and I did not dawdle this morning on my walk from the subway to the Undisclosed Location. I did my best to stay inside as long as possible and outside as little as necessary.

It's cold today. It's so cold that Al Gore is probably checking his figures somewhere.

This would be the day to wear the Zero King. I planned to, after I heard the weather forecast last night.

I planned to -- but when the time came to leave this morning there was not enough time to put the plan into effect.

The Zero King is a coat. It was my father's. It is the warmest coat I have ever owned, and the warmest I am ever likely to own. It is long -- it goes down to my shins -- and it has an enormous collar that can be pulled up to cradle my head.

It weighs a ton.

It was the weight, really, that scotched the plan to wear the coat this morning. To wrestle the Zero King out of the closet and put the down jacket back in the closet would have taken too long and Long Suffering Spouse was anxious to depart. The car needed time to warm up. The windshield needed to be brushed off.

The down jacket is a bit... worn. The cuffs are filthy -- newsprint rubs off -- and it has a splotch of blue paint on one shoulder, a souvenir of a Cub Scout den meeting one night some years back when Long Suffering Spouse and I were both allegedly in charge of a Webelo den.

Long Suffering Spouse came up with all the projects, bought and brought all the needed supplies, got the room at school, and supervised the boys as they worked on whatever arts and crafts project she'd devised.

I showed up.

But the blue paint came from one of those projects. Some kid put his newly over-painted creation on my coat.

Because it looks increasingly disreputable, I try not to wear the down jacket on days when I have to go to court.

Of course, when it gets cold or snowy in Chicago, we all go into grim-struggle-for-survival mode. I wouldn't be the only one in a down jacket at court if I wore it there -- but I still try not to.

If I had to go to court this morning, I would have struggled to get the Zero King out of the closet. But I didn't... and I didn't.


Cristina said...

Just in case you wanted to know. Here in Miami it's Partly Cloudy and 76F, with 74% humidity.

But tomorrow 18 is off the Schenectedy (sp?) NY where the high is 27F, wind chill 18F and 30%flurries this weekend.

Keep warm!

Rhea said...

I could use a Zero King. It's gotten pretty cold here in Boston this winter.

landgirl said...

I toted my down coat all the way from here to Chicago and back. In Dublin we were so crammed for space that I used an old trick learned from a boy scout friend to roll the down coat into a tiny capsule of itself and held it tight with a rubbed band to squeeze it into my suitcase. I could not imagine going to Chicago without a down coat to protect me. As a midwesterner, I gave up all pretense of fashion years ago. I hate the cold. My role model is Chilly Willie.
Now if only I could find the analogous weapon in my armamentarium for wet and windy and cold. The weather is blowing into a gale outside. The windows are pelted with a cold slushy rainy muck. Any suggestions are most welcome.

SQT said...

Oh I hate the cold. It's wet here, and I'm not fond of that either. We're supposed to be pretty much constantly wet until the middle of next week. Yuck.

But below zero is double yuck. How do you stand it?

Ralph said...

Who made the rule that you can't wear down to court? Can a barrister be judicially contemptuously sanctioned for such an offense??

Shelby said...

Poor Al.

I laughed out loud.

The Curmudgeon said...

Shelby -- Al checked his figures... and he's standing by them. And his Oscar.

Ralph -- there's no rule against wearing a down coat to court... it's just... well, it doesn't look big time. And, of course, we always want to look big time. On the other hand, the people who really are big time are commuting from Marco Island or some other sunny clime about twice a month during the winter... just to make sure the troops are still marching in a profitable direction.

SQT -- I stand it by staying indoors as much as possible. I think that's what most real Chicagoans do. Anybody who tells you that they're tough and can handle it probably has a condo in Marco to fall back on.

Landgirl -- I agree that there is nothing so cold and miserable as "cold slushy rainy muck." Even now, when it's below zero, I can dress for it... for my brief forays into the cold... but the "cold slushy rainy muck" gets into my bones and I never warm up. My suggestion? Get a condo in Marco. (Yeah, I know. Neither can I.)

Rhea -- from what I've seen, Boston's been clobbered this winter. How many snow days have you had already?

And Purplepassion -- thanks. I actually know a guy with a condo in Marco. He's fond of checking in once a week, just to make sure I know how warm it is down there....

Anonymous said...

Just found a zero king in very good shape at the Goodwill for $5.00 for my husband.

Kent Blacklidge said...

My father died 15 years ago but his Zero King coat lives on. I look forward to wearing this coat every year when the weather gets really lousy in central Indiana. Wore it this morning when the temperature was 10 degrees. Great feeling. I love the coat for both the warmth and the connection to my father. He purchased it at L. Strauss & Co. in Indianapolis who knows when. Honestly, though, at age 71 I feel like the dinosaur the curmudgeon speaks about.


Jim said...

I too owne a zero king parka in the same condition. Old, stained and worn. But can I let this coat go? No way. Absolutely the warmest coat ever. I use it for ice fishing only since it looks so bad. The fish don't care...
If found this blog by serching for the zero king to replace my old one. Are these coats history? I got mine new at a berlinton coat factory 15 or so years ago. I sure wish I could get another one.