Sometimes, you know, you just have to do it: buy a trashy coat (or five) and admit who you are. That is to say, riffraff. The kind that elicits compliments from other riffraff. Like the overly dressed man in dreads walking past you to dole out the veneration of what you initially think sounds like, “Nice weave” because maybe you’re somehow a latent racist like all white people and he couldn’t possibly be saying “Nice mink” because you’re not wearing one. No, you’re wearing some multi-colored faux fur getup from the proverbial bargain basement of the twenty-first century–Forever 21. And though you know you should not shop there at your age and because it is for Jersey and Long Island whores carrying on the sexual experimentation tradition showcased with pitch perfect horrification in Thirteen, you do. Because it’s what you can “afford.” Though, to be sure, you cannot afford anything. And yet, what is it with whites always talking about their poverty and then somehow still managing to continue shopping? God bless America’s love of debt saddling, one supposes.
One also supposes that you ought to be grateful for admiration from strangers tossed your way as you hobble through the streets like every other poor soul beaten down by their insignificance in a city that insists you must care–especially about your appearance–despite no one around you caring what you actually look like. You could be anyone. And, by the same token, no one. So to stand out–regardless of how–should be a source of some kind of comfort in knowing you might be “special” in a place where such an adjective was merely supposed to be the norm. But it was not a comfort, because you had to consider the source: a crazy person. For what sane one could possibly dub this patchwork of low-budget “fur” to be mink? Did no one have any discernment anymore? Any careful consideration of their words? Any idea what the fuck they were saying at all? That you had to accept the simple fact of word salad being the baseline of communication was still an unbearable certitude of life in “the now.”
In your quickness to parade your incredulousness over the “commendation,” you double check you are, indeed, hearing correctly and say, “Huh? Nice weave?”
“No, no. Mink.”
You feel endlessly foolish for thinking your hair even looks nice enough in its shine and meticulous style to be dubbed a weave. But then, your jacket certainly does not look lavish enough to be a mink, so how can you even be sure of the veracity of the taste of “public opinion”? You cannot. You can be sure of nothing, it is increasingly clear, and it almost derails you off the sidewalk as you call into question the idea of everything you have ever perceived as “real” or “accurate” about yourself when no one can or will ever see you as you yourself do. It is jarring, and you don’t know if you can bear this distortion–this divide between the impenetrable wall of solipsism and the outside world’s false view of “who you are.” You want to be seen, as you truly are. But how can you when there are people on the street accusing you of wearing a mink when you would never 1) be able to afford to and 2) never deign to invoke the random and abrupt red paint pourings of PETA members seeming to lurk on every city street corner.
After confirming that, yes, the dreadlocked man has praised your nice “mink” and not your nice weave, you laugh. Nervously. Erratically. Like a madwoman who very much ought to be consorting with this dirty, multiple jacket wearing, ostensibly homeless man. You can always tell when someone is homeless or “in between situations” by their, let us say, “unpasteurized” aesthetic, by how much they carry with them. You, too, seem to be carrying more than you should, between an umbrella that won’t fit in your overly burgeoning with nebulous accoutrements sack and holding your phone in your hand because your so-called “mink” does not have pockets. That’s just how “decadent” it is, you want to assure the dread man. Strong evidence of just how “rolling in it” you are. If by “it” what is meant is shit and not cash. Ah, but wait, everything is “cashless” now anyway. You can’t go into any corporate establishment without needing to pay with a card. Like the one you used to purchase this very coat that is suddenly making your skin crawl. Likely because of its synthetic fibers or rubbing up against someone with bed bugs or maybe fleas on the subway. Or maybe you’re just finally experiencing what you’ve long sought to achieve: levitating out of your body via astral projection. Surely, that’s what this allover tingling could signify, right?
And then, the next thing you know, you wake up on a bed of concrete facing the gray sky, pierced with all those high buildings that, in your current state, somehow look as though they’re all raping the once unintruded upon abyss. You still feel that tingling. The dread man has disappeared, vanished back into whatever portal he must have entered from, and you have been left with a light crowd hovering around you, someone “just happening” to be a doctor instructing you that you need to lie still as he takes your coat off to reveal a rash with the redness of the same intensity as pomegranate juice.
“It seems like an allergic reaction,” the doctor postulates, as though he is performing for all the tourists who have taken mild interest in your “case” in between shopping and gawking. He touches your neck, generally presses your body like you are meat being handled by a butcher instead of a human being treated by a doctor. Are you human? you have to ask yourself as he prods and examines you in a fashion that seems to be accomplishing nothing other than a spectacle.
All at once, you get up. You start to hurry away, not wanting to be looked at any longer by these strangers. The pile of blues and blacks and whites and pinks that make up the color composition of your coat remains behind you on the ground, and looks like a dead animal from the world of Dr. Seuss.
“Wait, your mink!” the doctor calls out.
If more than one person touts the incorrect perception, is it, then, by democratic standards, correct? Must you fall down the rabbit hole of insanity for the sake of your sanity? Because to fight against “the popular opinion” has tended to drive you mostly mad up until now. So you go back over to take your jacket and corroborate, “Yes, my mink.”