Monday: Canada Goose coats
The temperature lately has been pretty nasty, hovering around the minus 10 or minus 12 degree mark. Most people can deal with this, but apparently, from what I’ve seen, things are MUCH colder in Toronto. I mean colder in like a philosophical or hypothetical way, because it’s really no colder there than anywhere else in the province, but Torontonians always seem to feel more put upon by winter than anyone else. The second the thermometer plunges below zero, out come the heavy duty parkas. People are bundled up like it’s the North Pole, with scarves wrapped tight around their faces, earmuffs, big woolly hats, giant mittens, and mukluks. And that’s just the guys—the women are even worse, layering woolen capes on TOP of their parkas. It’s ironic, because most people in the downtown core are coming in by subway and have to walk a maximum of two blocks to get anywhere, yet you would think they were all competing in the Iditarod. Now I know that last week, I was complaining about how cold I was, but I was dressed like a normal, human person, and had to walk almost two kilometres. Unlike the majority of Torontonians who are swanning around in their Canada Goose coats (that’s an awesome mixed metaphor about birds, am I right?).
About 6 weeks ago, I began to notice a strange trend on the streets of the downtown core—2 out of 3 people that passed me by were wearing these parkas with a big, red patch on the arm. Then, at work one day, I overheard a colleague say to another, “Ooh, your Canada Goose coat finally came in! Let me see it!” I was intrigued and really excited, wondering if the coat was either a) made in the shape of a goose with wing-like arms and a goose-y hood that had a beak on it or something, or b) had a big, colourful picture of a Canada Goose on it. On a side note, I have to say that I’ve never been very impressed with the Canada Goose as a national symbol—they’re annoying, honky birds, they sh*t all over the place, and have started refusing to go south for the winter because they are the biggest lazy-asses on the planet, so now we have to deal with their feces and honking all winter long. Anyway, the coat was produced, and I was sadly disappointed to see a dun-coloured parka with a fake-fur edged hood. Then I noticed the big, red patch on the arm, and I was like “Oh—THIS is what all those people are wearing.” So I asked, “Where did you get it from?” “Oh, I had to order it specially on-line, because I wanted it in a different colour than most people.” And it’s true—so far I’d only seen navy blue or black versions, but this one was like a dull brownish-green khaki colour. A bold choice if I do say so myself.
But then it occurred to me that maybe I should be more Toronto-ish and get one of these coats. They couldn’t be THAT expensive, since so many people had them. There are university students in my condo building who wear them. So I asked a friend, “Do you know anything about these coats? How much are they and where do I get one?” “Well, I know you can get them at Holt Renfrew,” she answered. “I think they run around $800-$900.”
900 f*cking dollars for an ugly parka? Was it lined with gold dust? For $900, I could buy my own portable generator and heater, and hire someone to carry them next to me, blasting hot air at me. So I decided to investigate a little and find out exactly what the deal was, why they were SO expensive. My research resulted in the following:
1) Canada Goose coats are actually made in Canada, unlike many other so-called Canadian products. Once, Ken and I wanted to buy a leather couch and we were determined to “buy Canadian”. We went to a store and picked out a couch we liked. Until the salesperson admitted that the leather and wood were FOUND in Canada, then everything was put on a container ship and sent to China, where it was assembled. Apparently, it was cheaper to hire a boat, take a 10 day voyage, and use sweat shop labour, than actually BUILD it in Canada. So this could explain why Canada Goose coats are so expensive—adults make them, as opposed to 6 year-old children.
2) The coat weighs 7 and a half pounds and has been scientifically tested to withstand temperatures up to minus 75 degrees. I can see why this is important in downtown Toronto, where people regularly take their sled dogs to work or slog through the Arctic tundra to reach the office. Like I said though, Torontonians are convinced that their city is much colder than anywhere else in the province. I’ve mentioned before that most buildings have signs obsessively ordering you to use the revolving door so as not to let the precious heat out. As far as I’m concerned, though, if the temperature ever DID fall to minus 75, it would be like that scene in The Day After Tomorrow, where people just freeze on the spot, expensive coat or not. (As an interesting side note, the Canada Goose coat made its film debut in that very movie and its weight was probably the reason that one guy fell through the glass mall ceiling to his death.)
3) It’s not a coat, it’s a way of life. The Canada Goose website refers to their coats as “luxury apparel”, which is great if your idea of luxury is a choice of three blah colours, and having to see a chiropractor from carrying its weight all day. The website extolls the “values” of the Canada Goose coat owner, who are known collectively as “Goose People”. Seriously. Goose People are “everyday heroes who strive for excellence.” They “dream big dreams” and have “can-do attitudes which inspire us”. Dude, it’s a f*cking coat, not a missionary trip. It just goes to show you what a great marketing campaign can do. The biggest dream I have about a Canada Goose coat is actually being able to afford one, but if I had that kind of disposable income, I’d spend it on more practical ways to beat the cold, like alcohol and those little hot pads that go inside your boots and mitts. Plus, I have a $50 down-filled parka, which, although it was most likely NOT made in Canada, I bought locally, thereby supporting a Canadian business. It works just fine, is not in the least pretentious, is a lovely shade of red with gold buttons, and it definitely“embodies the spirit of adventure” if your idea of adventure is surviving the subway during rush hour.
Friday: Soap Opera confusion
On Friday, K and I went to our local car dealership to have snow tires installed on her car. The day before, in the wake of a snowstorm, she had gone off the road into a ditch at the outskirts of the city where she goes to school. She called me, and I arranged for a tow truck and for my dad to go out and stay with her. I was freaked out by the whole thing, and wondered if she had been scared, but K calmly pointed out that she was a teenager, and they all thought they were immortal, so when the car went slid down the incline sideways, she really wasn’t that worried. Unlike me, who announced, “I’m buying you snow tires. Don’t argue.” I was just grateful that she wasn’t hurt. (On a side note, here’s the conversation I had with her school when I called to say she wouldn’t be in that day.
Me: I’m just calling to validate my daughter’s absence.
Secretary: Is she sick?
Me: No, she had a car accident. She’s a little shaken up so I told her to go home.
Secretary: So, I’ll just call it “parent-approved” then?
I’ll leave it up to you to understand how I felt that the person on the other end of the phone didn’t ask if she was injured, and seemed to believe that I had somehow AUTHORIZED her to have a car accident.)
Anyway, we were at the dealership waiting for them to install the tires. In the waiting lounge, there’s big screen TV, and since it was the middle of the afternoon, there was a soap opera on. I’ve never actually watched a soap opera, but I recognized it from the strange way it was filmed. K had never seen one either, and we weren’t very interested at first, reading stuff on our phones, until suddenly K poked me and said, “What the hell is this crazy show?” I looked up and a man and woman were talking. She was fully made up with bright red lipstick and he looked like he’d been crying. Then the camera pulled back—they were both standing on the ledge of a building. I always thought soap operas were about romance and rich people, but this was really weird, so we started to watch. It’s hard to pick up a storyline midstream but here’s what we gleaned.
The girl on the ledge, or the guy, or both have been shot. She wants him to jump off the building with her for some unknown reason. She is wearing a hospital gown, and they both have matching bullet wounds. They argue then gaze into the distance. The camera cuts away.
A blonde woman is arguing with a doctor. He’s been keeping secrets (about what, it’s not clear), but the name Tony is mentioned. She’s upset about Kiki being shot. Who the hell is Kiki? How is Tony involved? Did he shoot Kiki? They gaze into the distance. The camera cuts away.
Another blonde woman is talking to a man called Sonny. Her hands are covered in blood. He seems to be a gangster type—is she his wife? She’s also upset about what happened to Kiki, and seems to be accusing him of having something to do with it, prompting K and me to ask each other, “What happened to Kiki? Do you know?!” Neither of us do. We all gaze into the distance. The camera cuts away.
An older man comes into the room where the first blonde woman is waiting. She slaps him across the face and tells him that none of this would have happened if he hadn’t blackmailed her into…smuggling guns? Is he Tony? Did he shoot Kiki? In the foreground, a nurse with a heavy German accent says to a doctor, “Zere is someone on ze roof.” They all gaze into the distance. The camera cuts away.
We’re back on the roof. The girl and the guy are arguing more heatedly. Another man comes to the door and sees the guy. “Tony, what are doing up there?” he asks. Finally, we know who Tony is. “Oh, Kiki, I can’t live without you, and I can’t live with what I’ve done to you,” he replies, looking at the girl. “Who are you looking at?” asks the other guy. The camera pans back, the girl is gone, and Tony no longer has a bullet wound. K and I look at each other and gasp. The girl is a figment of his imagination! The other man backs through the door, leaving Tony alone on the ledge. Nice friend, that one. Maybe he shot Kiki and doesn’t want Tony to know. Tony gazes into the distance. The camera cuts away.
The second blonde woman is now in a public bathroom. She finds a scrub brush and starts scrubbing the blood from her hands. Suddenly a really hot, half-naked man appears. Apparently, this is a MAGIC bathroom. They argue about doctor-patient confidentiality and he wraps her hands in bandages because she’s scrubbed them raw. Did the blonde woman shoot Kiki? Could this be an homage to Lady Macbeth trying to scrub the guilt from her soul? Are the people who make soap operas really that well-read? We all gaze into the distance and the camera cuts away…
…to a police precinct where apparently only two woman work because there is literally no other cop in the entire building. They are arguing. The older woman is begging the younger cop for a favour. “Just give me a few weeks,” she says. “Then I’ll tell you everything you need to know about Sonny, and Don, and Carlos, and Andy.” Ok, we know who Sonny is, but who the hell are all these other guys? Suddenly the older man from the previous scene who blackmails people into gun smuggling appears. “Captain, what can I do for you?” says the female cop. Captain?! He’s blackmailing people into arms dealing and HE’S the Captain of the police precinct? They argue and he tears up a warrant that she has for the first blonde woman. “I’ve given her immunity,” says the Captain. For what? we wonder. Did SHE shoot Kiki? Because at one point, we were sure she was Kiki’s mother. This is getting more confusing. They gaze into the distance. The camera cuts away.
We’re back on the roof. The doctor from a previous scene is there, trying to talk Tony off the ledge. Suddenly Sonny appears. It turns out that he’s Tony’s father. He jumps up on the ledge with Tony and… offers to jump with him. K and I hope he’s bluffing—we’ve grown quite fond of the both of them. More people arrive, and finally, Tony comes down off the ledge and into the arms of his gangster dad. The credits roll.
K and I look at each other. “So who the hell shot Kiki?” she asks. “Damned if I know,” I reply. We gaze into the distance.