Inklings: A favorite story, retold

  • Thursday, July 14, 2011

The other evening some friends got talking about kids and their sincerity in gift giving. And what better fit for this scenario than a little boy getting his mom (what he believed was) her heart’s desire? Thus I told once more, the story of David and My New Fur Stole.
This was many fashion eons ago, when furs were the in thing, and I had a mink stole, inherited from my mom. In our young and oh-so-social Air Force days I joked that my wardrobe consisted solely of jeans and jewels – house wear and cocktail or formal party wear. Hence I wore that wrap a lot. I used to tease and say something like, “Guess I’ll have to dig out that old fur piece again for Saturday night.”
One day our son David, then a first grader who had the habit of being much too keen an observer at times, came rushing in flushed with excitement and carrying a folded brown paper grocery bag. “Mom,” he yelled, jumping up and down enthusiastically, “I bought you a present. Something I know you need and you’re going to really, really love!”
I was so touched by this spontaneous generosity. “I spent all my money on it – a whole fifty cents!” he was almost squealing. “Hurry up and open it!” I made a big deal of carefully reaching into the bag, determined that whatever the gift, I would put on a great show of amazement and appreciation. I had no trouble with the first emotion; the second was the challenge.
 “Wow,” I stammered, as I peered at the bulky folded hairy thing in the bag. “Wow,” I never expected this,” I mumbled earnestly.
“Hold it up,” said my pleased son, “You can see it better if you hold it up!” Gingerly I fingered the object and stretched it out with both arms. It turned out to be the most God-awful looking fur piece made of (and I’m not kidding here) squirrel tails several rows deep. These bushy tails had definitely come from senior citizen rodents in serious stages of molt.
It seems David had stopped by a neighborhood garage sale, saw the stole on a hanger and as he had heard me talk of my “old one” he decided to update mom’s wardrobe.
“Try it on,” he said. “Let’s see how you look.” So I modeled it for him, and later for his older sister (whom I previously threatened with grave bodily harm if she so much as sighed). My husband was also rendered speechless.
For ages I wore those motley squirrel tails over glittering evening garb every time I went out partying. (I had to have my ensemble cleaned after every occasion because “squirrel bits” kept sticking to chiffon and taffeta.) On these formal occasions David was always on hand to wave us goodbye with such pride in his eyes. We always stopped about a block from our destination to get my “old stole” out of the trunk and reversed the process coming home. The next day he never failed to ask how everybody liked my stole.
Inexplicably that stole finally went missing during one of our many military moves. Nevertheless, my old stole was real mink. My new one was the real thing.

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