Coats have been with us for all of our lives. When we were really tiny, we had cute, little baby coats, possibly with pants and foot covers included. During elementary and high school, coats continued to do the job, keeping us warm and protecting us from precipitation of various forms. Even now, just about fully grown here at college, coats continue to repel the evil weather.

Somewhere along the way, coats progressed from serving as not only functional articles of clothing, but also fashion statements. This may have happened sooner for some of us than others. Certain jobs, sports teams or other organizations could have monopolized parts of our coats from time to time, boasting responsibilities or perhaps simply advertising. Other coats may have originated from gifts, often from grandparents or aunts. But when the coat selection process incorporated an element of personal choice, we had our chance to express ourselves in the warmest way possible.

For me, the issue of coat choice was taken lightly for a fairly long time. Favorite color was the most important variable, leading to quite a few coats of varying shades of blue during the time of youth sizes. The other details were more or less left to chance; that is, decided by Mom. From there, high school and the cross country team took over coat representation, with a respite provided by the gift of an oddly puffy and extraordinarily warm denim number, from my aunt, of course.

The most recent trend of my college years has been the big yellow coat. My first yellow coat was of a mustard-type shade, rather ironic given my disdain for all things condiment. But it boasted a bizarre weatherproof material that looked normal but felt kind of like silk. Its distinctive color helped my Caucasian and brown-haired (usually) self to stand out in crowds to the delight of all those who sought me in the midst of many people.

After serving its term, or more accurately, once I had worn holes in the lining, it was replaced by a brighter yellow coat. It was during this coat’s tenure that the phrase “human traffic cone” originated, which subconsciously makes sense, given my long-held fear of traffic. While this coat did not have the delightful-feeling outer shell of its predecessor, it did provide a hood to which I have grown rather attached.

Sadly, I feel that the days of the yellow coat are now numbered. Real grown-ups do not seem to wear such things, and if – I mean when – I find a job for next year, I imagine that my employer will expect me to look the part. While the option of clowning remains a real possibility (oddly enough, thanks to the gift of a juggling how-to book from the very same aunt who gave me the puffy coat), I went out on a limb this past December and purchased a grown-up coat.

On its merits, the grown-up coat has some nice stuff. It is long and really warm, and it is gray, which has emerged as one of my favorite colors over the past eight years or so. I wore it over winter break, and it did not seem to cause me any type of bodily harm. I would even go so far as to say that in certain situations, the gray coat made me happier than my beloved bright yellow traffic cone coat. It evoked an odd notion within me that people might have mistaken me for a fully employed, smart, maybe even powerful, non-college-student grown-up.

Upon returning to school, the yellow coat has been out in full force with few exceptions, and I appreciated its welcoming brightness and hood. Things are how they used to be, friends can see me from the other side of campus and life is good.

Maybe the gray coat will become my default coat next winter, and the yellow coat will wait in the closet for me to decide to go play in the snow. But for the time being, the yellow coat still gets the green light.

Joe Musumeci is a senior in the College, The Hoya’s editorial page editor and a member of The Hoya’s board of directors.

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