After 28 years of snow-filled winters, I and my Visa finally buckle to the elements.

I used to really like going to EMS. In my younger days, I dated a biker and then, later, an Eagle Scout, so I spent a lot of time browsing around, buying weird packets of electrolyte goo or camping stoves, and would inevitably wind up blowing serious cash on miniature Nalgene bottles and those hooks most people use to climb mountains but I would use to hold my keys.

That was then.

I haven’t been back in a sporting goods store since well before my 21st birthday, when my endurance exertions of choice became extreme vodka sampling and chain smoking. But, since I fly out on Monday for 10 days in North Dakota, I decided it was time to pull a 0 to 60 in terms of the cold-weather gear.

I had my act all planned out: I would waltz in, wearing my 100% shit cotton peacoat from Old Navy and be like “I AM GOING TO NORTH DAKOTA AND THIS IS THE WARMEST THING I OWN.” Knowledgeable and adorable saleseople would flock around me, throw stylish yet functional sportswear at my person like so many crumpled one-dollar bills, and, several hundred dollars later, I would be ready for the tundra. It would be like that movie whre little orphan Shirley Temple gets all the pretty new dresses courtesy of her rich benefactor, except that my benefactor is Visa, and I’m not an orphan.

Anyway.

Much to my dismay, the sales floor at EMS was entirely devoid of adorable salespeople, or ANY salespeople for that matter, and I paced the store for 20 minutes in a state of total confusion before accosting a young man for help with my dilemma. “I need something warm,” I said, gesturing frantically, “this is seriously all I own.” Young Man escorted me to a rack in the corner holding, seriously EIGHT AND ONLY EIGHT down coats, none of which looked remotely waterproof, and none of which were in my size. He told me that my best bet would be to order through the website. “The only store that would still have the North Face jackets is the one on Newbury Street,” he suggested. I began to panic. Boston spent all of today drenched in cold, torrential rain, and I was just not up for schlepping all over the city, wearing a PEACOAT, in search of appropriate cold-weather gear. I decided to look at footwear.

“Hey” said Footwear Guy, in a cute British accent, “is it really that cold in North Daokta?”

“Like, 40 below, I think.”

“But that’s not north of us, is it?”

“Um, the state borders Canada.”

“Seriously?”

“I’m pretty sure.”

“Oh, shit, I was thinking of North CAROLINA!! My bad.”

I bought a pair of boots, some gloves, some socks, and left the store with a massive charge to the Visa, wishing I hadn’t given my last Ativan to my sister before my uncle’s funeral. What the fuck was I going to do? I couldn’t go on the shoot with NO COAT, and I couldn’t NOT go on the shoot… I’d have to order some shit online, pay an arm and a leg in shipping, then just CROSS MY FINGERS that whatever I bought would work, fit, and last me through the end of this project, which means UNTIL 2012. The rain was terrible. I wanted to cry. I went to Urban Outfitters across the street, thinking that maybe I could stock up on cheap layers, since otherwise I’d be found somewhere outside Fargo dead in a snowdrift. No dice there, either.

Fuck.

I tried to make it up to myself by running other errands, but everything seemed to be discontinued or out of stock, and my tolerance for all this crap was running very, very low. Maybe it would be better if I just went to a nearby bar to wait out the storm… If I stayed real drunk in ND, maybe I wouldn’t feel the cold.

Just as I thought all was lost, I noticed a bright sign through the downpour. Was it – could it be? CITY SPORTS??? I’d wanted to buy from EMS since they seemed like more of a hippie kind of place, but seriously, fuck it. You never know when somebody might need to go to Alaska, and I considered it a blight on the sporting goods industry that EMS would be sold out of all down jackets in February.

I walked in, and just to the right of the door was a rack of North Face Arctic Parkas, mostly in white, which would have been fine, but (HOORAY OMG) there was a single black parka, size XS, waiting just for me. I dropped my bags and my umbrella and actually, LITERALLY shrieked. I was scared to walk away from the coat for fear that someone would snatch it up while I was gone. But I had to. It was chained to the display rack. Since I’d had such good luck with the outerwear, I poked around the store and bought a SECOND pair of boots, a SECOND pair of gloves, a thermal undershirt, a hat, and several peices of bizarre UnderArmor bodysuit apparel.

Total spent at EMS: Two Hundred and Eighty dollars

Total spent at City Sports: Five Hundred and Seventy Five dollars.

Total spent at other stores while looking for alternate ways to keep warm and/or bolster my spirits after the EMS fiasco: I Don’t Even Want to Think About It.

So, summary: I shopped in a downpour for three hours and quite possibly maxed out my credit card, but now I will not die in North Dakota next week. And I am happy.

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