- My Purple Sofa
I'm still not sure how that coat of mine caught fire in the first place. One thing you ought to know, though, that house I was invited to was unusually cold inside. While the others were drinking beer, reheating stir-fried octopus, frying more oyster and scallion cakes, and playing poker, I was practically hugging the kerosene heater in the middle of the living room. Since we are in a new year now, it must have happened at the end of last year.
I went all out trying to look my best, so I wore the black three season dress with the scooped neckline underneath the coat, and a velvet scarf to fill in the scoop—and that's all it took. It was a dinner get-together, and the couple who hosted it were the only people I recognized. The moment I took my coat off I felt goose bumps on my arms, and even where the scarf covered me. The husband draped a cardigan over my shoulders. Imagine: a worn-out brown cardigan with a black dress—they simply do not go together. And so the cardigan ended up over my knees and I made do the best I could. There were all sorts of people there—a man who sells china wholesale at Namdaemun, someone who's been a screenwriter for various theaters for years—oh, and even a lawyer, supposedly a fellow alumnus of the husband. I don't imagine I'll ever have the opportunity to meet those sorts of people again. What's more, all [End Page 233] the guests were unmarried. Now you see why in spite of the bone chilling cold I didn't put on the cardigan.
It was past two when the party broke up. Some people said they were going to a karaoke bar, but I wasn't in the mood. Well, let's be honest; there was also the fact that I didn't get an invite from the wholesaler, the screenwriter, or the lawyer—nonetheless, I just wanted to go home and throw my frozen body on the heated floor. I do remember that I put on my coat, but before I slipped into my shoes to leave, I had to cozy up to the heater one last time. I've got a pretty sharp nose, and I can't believe I couldn't smell my coat burning. I said goodbye, went home, and fell asleep without washing my face.
It was 9:15 in the morning two days later when I discovered the burn marks. At the bottom of my coat there was a hole the size of a handkerchief. I had finished my breakfast and I was about to leave for the bank and the supermarket. I absolutely loved that coat—I guess that's why I still remember these details down to the exact minute. It's also the only winter coat I have, but the main thing is, the moment I saw that coat I was like, oh my god, this is so made for me. You know what I mean; coats, jeans, skirts. . . . Even without putting them on, you know they'll feel just right on you—it was like that for me with my coat. I rarely shop for clothes at the department store, but this coat—it's black, with a nylon and polyester weave—I snatched right off the hanger the minute I saw it. To pay so much for a single article of clothing—well, I guess there's a first time for everything. The coat was pinched in at the waist and wrapped me nice and snug all the way down to my ankles. Whenever I put it on and went out, I felt good about myself—I'm all skin and bones, you know. And sometimes, every once in a while, I even got complimented on how pretty I'd gotten! There are clothes like this that make a person look good, right? And this was the coat I managed to burn. You can imagine how bummed I was.
And now this coat...