Having been living in the UK for the better part of ten years now, I can predict the scene of my arrival at the airport in Toronto with precision.
Whoever has been dispatched to fetch me up will go through the usual machinations involved in trying to perfectly time a pick up with the ridiculous rules of airport parking. This person will generally be in a foul humour that can only be lifted by waving treats from Duty Free in front of them.
Once I am settled into the car the person, usually Crazy D or L’il Sis, will look at me and say something like, “You do realise it’s winter here, right?”
To which I will reply, “No shit Sherlock.”
“Did you not think it wise to bring a winter coat and boots with you?”
“What do you think this is?” I’ll say, pointing to my jaunty English wool coat that I know perfectly well is not thick enough to withstand -10C let alone -40C. “And these,” I’ll wave my feet in front of their face during a tense California lane change. “These are called boots.” Actually, they’re called rain boots but they’re a damn sight better than the other options which were Birkenclogs or old Converse high tops.
The driver will roll his or her eyes. “It’s like you didn’t even grow up here.”
“I think you’ll find that I’ve been wearing these coats since forever and even owning a pair of boots – regardless of whether they are meant to keep snow or rain at bay – is quite a significant development,” I’ll say.
“You’re an idiot and you’re going to freeze to death.”
“I managed for years and years with a sad old thin wool coat and wool socks under my Birkenstock sandals. And look, all ten toes and all ten fingers.”
“God protects fools and drunks, of which you are often both.”
“If it gets really bad, I’ll borrow a coat,” I’ll say.
“Grampy’s old blue one that lives in the mudroom with the stash of plastic bags everybody forgets about.”
“What do you mean, gone?”
“It got cleaned up. Rare moment of efficiency, tore through The Mom’s like a tornado. Clearing out. You’ll see.”
“Fine. I’ll borrow one of The Mom’s.”
“One of the furs?”
“Obviously not,” I’ll huff. Never mind that they go against my politics, they’d bloody heavy.
“Because that shitty down-filled coat that’s like llama shit gold in colour with the broken zip you sometimes wear is on its way out.”
“Do none of you consider the fact that I might need these things?!”
“You weren’t around.”
“That’s because I live in England.”
“Should have thought of that before you left.”
At this rate, the only things left at The Mom’s will be a couple of canaries and the booze.
Though, I am facing a similar predicament here in England. Nothing wrong with my jaunty wool coat (except the fact that it’s three sizes too big due to the fact that I didn’t quite understand Italian sizing when I ordered it from the internet). However, the UK is planning to have the wettest winter since forever. (Which, as an aside, is pretty much what always happens, but give the Brits a few sunny days and they quickly forget). So as I was chatting to The Mom last week and she was regaling me with tales of new, effective outwear, I asked her to keep an eye peeled for something in a sturdy raincoat.
“You live in England. They don’t sell raincoats?” she asked.
“They do, but I want an effective one. One that you could do with in Vancouver. Things here tend to leak.”
She rolled her eyes and gave me the sort of look that says: I do not know how you got this far in life. I don’t either quite frankly, but I’m here now and soon I’ll be cold and wet. Send coats please.