Last night, I went to a birthday party for a stranger who was turning 30.
Her boyfriend is a friend and former temporary coworker of RI's. He'd arranged a party for a few dozen people at a local candlepin bowling alley.* It's a cute little small-town place with a bar in the entry and eight lanes of very old-timey-looking candlepin lanes; they don't serve food, so people brought cupcakes and snacks, and standard practice is that you leave your shoes and coats on or around the unguarded coat rack by the door, and then cross the bar to get your bowling shoes by the lanes themselves.
So we ditched our coats and shoes and then got into a conversation in the bar, standing around in our sock feet, which was clearly no big deal. At one point, my nose started to itch, so I went back to my coat to grab a tissue.
I should back up a little.
I have over the last few years owned a bunch of jeans that ranged widely in quality and in time bought, but the universe has colluded so that all of them became unwearable in roughly the same six-week period. I was out of jeans, which, bummer, because I wear jeans all the time. So last weekend I stopped by my favorite TJ Maxx and found one pair of nearly perfect jeans.
They fit great.
They look great.
They were very cheap.
But... the front pockets were fake. Like, there's stitching where the pockets should be to look like pockets, but they are not pockets. The back pockets are regular, and real.
And I bought them anyway, because they fit and look good and were cheap and I was entirely out of jeans, but, well, if there are any aspiring jeans designers out there who think maybe women don't want to use front pockets: It is way easier to just not use pockets that are there than it is to use pockets that are not there. Jackasses.
All of which is by way of explaining why my phone, car keys, and tissues were in my coat pocket. My wallet was in my back jeans pocket, which would horrify my chiropractor, but whatever. I went back to my coat to get a tissue — except my coat wasn't there. My plain black winter coat was just gone from the rack. I assumed someone had taken it thinking it was theirs, and my first concern was whether they'd left the party completely or just gone outside to smoke — because the phone would be easy enough to retrieve, since our host knew everyone and was nearby, and I could use bar napkins as tissues, but without the car keys, we weren't going home.
And as I was trying to decide exactly how much to freak out, I saw, out the window, the birthday girl, wearing my coat, complete with the pin my grandmother made. Now, that was mostly good news. She was unlikely just to take off and not return to her own party, and even if she did, her boyfriend was still in the bowling alley.
So I turned my mind to the matter of worrying about whether when I did get it back, it'd smell like smoke and make my whole car smell like smoke.
Meanwhile, through my internal meltdown, RI was deep in one of those conversations where there's not really a break to interrupt. Eventually, after probably ten minutes that felt like years, I explained what was going on, and the person we'd been talking to was very concerned. But what was I going to do? "Happy 30th birthday, please don't steal my coat"?
I was just going to have to wait it out.
And wait it out I did, until she returned. I didn't actually notice her, but RI's conversation buddy did, and nudged me, and I scurried back to the coat rack to move my coat to a less visible location, where it remained until I retrieved it.
Day 9 of our month of gratitude: I am thankful to have my coat back, smelling surprisingly unlike smoke. Further, I am thankful to have a warm winter coat at all.
*Yes, that is a real thing up here. No, that is not the kind of bowling RI and I normally do.