Every woman should have the experience of owning a piece of fur. It’s better than the first prom or homecoming; far better than a first kiss. And it should be purchased by someone who adores you, who has not yet lifted the scales from his (or her) eyes to see what faults and flaws you possess.
Part of the magic was, of course, the element of surprise. But I think the best part was having Patrick relax on a chaise with a cigarette and cognac in hand while he watched me preen and prance in front of mirrors, under recessed lighting, trying on dozens of fur coats. I decided it was to be a full-length fur coat, not a jacket or cape, and no cloth on it whatsoever. I figured if I was getting a fur coat, I was going full steam ahead.
Bill, the owner of the fur shop, who had a long-established business and reputation, knew Patrick well. I figured that relationship was no doubt connected to Patrick having bought his ex-wife numerous furs over the years. But that didn’t bother me. Bill was gracious and sweet and couldn’t do enough for me. I’m sure he was also very happy to know he was no doubt going to make a big sale.
Bill brought in one fur at a time, not rushing me and making sure that Patrick saw me from all angles. It’s also important to add that I was wearing very high pumps, black patent leather, to be precise.
There is much to learn about furs and how different the pelts are, how they are sewn, and how many choices of collars and sleeves one has. All of Bill’s furs were sewn right there in that shop by a group of expert Polish seamstresses. Odd as it may seem, I didn’t want a mink. I wanted to be able to use the coat for business and casual, not just bring it out for the opera or a special night out. I wanted to be able to throw it into the overhang storage unit of a plane or wear it with blue jeans while shopping.
A beaver is known in the fur world as a “working woman’s fur.” Yes, it is less expensive than a mink, but there is nothing cheap about it. The right fur—almost like the right wedding gown—calls out to a woman. Mine was a long-hair, natural cognac-colored Canadian beaver with roll back cuffs and a wing collar. The pelts had luster and shine. It came down mid-calf length and looked stunning with my dark reddish-brown hair. The lining was silk and Bill said my name would be hand-sewn into the left side of the lining.
I’m not sure who was happier with that Christmas gift that year, me or Patrick. I was thrilled, and he was thrilled to see me that way. After a series of situations where he had tried hard to buy me something I refused to accept, he had finally chosen right. What a dear, generous man I had found. His love was all-encompassing and made me feel both glamorous and safe. It was the first time in my life I had ever felt that way.