Friday, December 14, 2001

Shopping Time is Here Again

Shopping Time Is Here Again

I have wanted for a long time a long, black winter coat that at least reached my knees, but could not justify getting one in California. Heck, I would have had a difficult time finding what I wanted there. Coming to Budapest was all of the rationale I needed to shop for one. The only jackets we brought with us were our leather jackets and Ron snuck in a cool weather windbreaker. The leather jacket was not sufficient any longer for me, so out to the stores we went.

The first stop was where Dawn had told us was the best price shopping area. We walked up and down the whole area, but could only find one men’s shop. There were dozens of women’s stores, which is what she must have had in mind, not thinking. The one men’s shop only had one style of long coats in black. I tried them on since the sizes are different here. Normally, I would wear a 42 or 44 long, depending on the cut. Here that translates to a 46-50, depending on the cut. Their selection started at 48 with nothing smaller. I tried it on and like the style, but the chest was swimmingly large. We had to look some more.

Back at the large mall, we started on the first level and completely navigated our way through each men’s store or any other that may have carried men’s coats. I was able to find one on the first floor, but there were still two floors to explore before making any decisions. We can now vouch for the fact that this must be the largest mall in Eastern Europe. It took us about three hours to make the circuit. Of course, I found another coat on the second floor and then another on the third. There were dozens of others in between, but the criteria were specific. It had to reach my knees at a minimum, it had to button at the neck, and it had to have sufficient pocket room to carry keys, cigarettes, lighter, transportation pass, calculator, tissues, lip balm, and we wonder why women use purses.

I was able to rule out the coat on the first floor since it was 1500 forints more than the others and it was wool and a synthetic blend. The other two were still runners-up and I could not decide. Going back to the second floor, I tried on that one again. The sleeves were too short in the size 46, but the 48 made me look like the Pillsbury Dough Boy after he was left in the oven for way too long. Back to the third floor, I tried on their offering one more time. With all of this decision making to do and hours of walking, we had to stop for coffee and a snack. When we were done, Ron asked if I was ready to buy, but I needed to go home and nap on it first.

The mall was brimming with activity. In the center court there were different children’s groups performing traditional Hungarian dances in traditional dress, modern dances, choirs singing, and other activities. All of the children in the audience were holding onto identical bags with some kind of toy sticking out and obviously filled with other goodies. It must have been a special presentation for children for the holidays.

Elsewhere in the mall, there were beautiful Christmas decorations hanging from the ceiling, giant garlands of gold, with giant red and gold ornaments intertwined and in the background, American Christmas music playing over the loudspeaker. The definition of irony is to be an American living in Budapest, Hungary in a shopping mall at Christmas only to hear Johnny Mathis singing “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”. It could have been worse, it could have been Elvis Presley singing “Blue Christmas”.

Later that evening, I decided on the coat from the third floor. It was the last one that they had and it was 50% wool and 50% cashmere. It was still there waiting for me to adopt it. Rather than a numeric size, it was a medium. The shoulders fit perfectly, the sleeves are just the right length, it has a pleat in the back, and it is belted. Best of all, I look taller and thinner in it than any of the others, which was a major consideration since I am much more slender than I had been and I did not want to camouflage this fact. The coat was under $120.00, a real bargain.

Outside the mall, there were some booths selling various things and one had gloves. I was able to find a pair of black ones that were marked ‘Thinsulate’ the brand name, but are probably knock offs, since they only cost $4.00. For that price, they can fall apart or I can lose them without too much upset. It felt great to shop once again. I had forgotten how that gets the blood stirring.

When we got home, Ron turned on the television to catch the early new at which I burst out laughing, because all we get is news, day in and day out.

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