The college kid asked if I thought she should wear a light jacket or a heavy coat
the other morning. "The opposite one," I said.
It's spring, that time of year when no matter which one you wear, you will wish you
had something else.
Spring is the Whack-A-Mole season. Popping up here, popping up there. A crocus here,
a daffodil here, the promise of warmer days quenched by a sudden freeze, a surprise
snow shower and one last shimmer of ice.
Spring is Lucy taunting Charlie Brown with the football, promising to hold it
steady, but always yanking it away at the last minute.
A relentless tease, that's what spring is. "Coming your way. Here I am. Nope!
Changed my mind. Fell for that one again, did ya?" The pansies grin and the wind
If you wear the light jacket, the sun ducks behind the clouds, the wind kicks up,
biting and slapping at your skin until your legs shake and your teeth chatter.
If you opt for the heavy coat and scarf because the thermometer says it's freezing,
the sun will suddenly appear. It will radiate through the car windows and crank the
setting to broil. You'll wrestle to hang onto the steering wheel while you maneuver
through your seatbelt to rip off your coat, jerk off your scarf, lower the windows
and blast the AC.
For the rest of your drive you'll see nothing but dogs catching Frisbees and runners
in tank tops and shorts.
Spring is the season that has made a liar out of every mother who ever
told a kid, "Wear a coat, it's going to be cold today." This is why so
many kids refuse to wear coats year-round now. It's not a battle between
fashion sense and common sense. The kids simply remember all those
spring days when their mothers were wrong.
Don't expect any help from the weather forecasters. Their answer to everything is
partly. Partly cloudy. Partly sunny. What a way to hedge your bet.
What other field of life gets to hide behind partly? Partly licensed.
Partly certified. Partly pregnant. Partly married. Partly sane. Partly
And you can forget the little spring jacket as well. You know, the one
that beckons to you from the clothing rack. It may be the worst clothing
investment of the year. Lightweight, bright and colorful, it is a relief
from the dreary drab of winter.
It looks practical, ideal for those brisk days bridging to summer. But you wind up
wearing it 12 maybe 18 hours, max. The long bridge to summer often turns out
to be three short steps to 80 degrees and muggy.
The little spring jacket won't be a total waste though. You can always get your
money's worth out of it during the summer - when you go to the grocery, a movie or
the office. It will be a blistering 95 degrees outside, yet every indoor space on
the planet will be cooled to the comfort of a meat locker.
Don't ask me if you should take the light jacket or the heavy coat. It's
spring. Who can know? The only thing I do know is that whichever one you
take is not going to be the one you need.
Judging from the past couple of days, you're probably going to be too hot. Or too