The Emperor’s New Sweater

I’ve never been one to have a ton of friends, obviously. For the most part, I spend the majority of my time with a girl I met when I was 14 and who, to this day, is still one of my best friends. Through most of high school, it was just us two – very Romy and Michelle. However, one day we made the mistake of allowing an outsider to infiltrate our twosome.

One afternoon my friend and I were headed to the lake and on the way, picked up a girl named Kelly. Why? I don’t know. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me who invited her but there she sat in the back seat of my ’95 Eclipse. I’m just too friendly. I will say that Kelly was very appreciative of the ride, so appreciative that she kindly showed it by STEALING MY SUNGLASSES. I made the other mistake of not knowing she was a cleptomaniac, and when I asked her to grab my Carmex out of my purse she took that as an invitation to also grab my sunglasses out of my purse and keep them. Weeks later I heard that she’d also stolen a pair of boots from another girl’s locker and had the balls to wear them in front of her. Her luck finally ran out when, 10-years later, she got in trouble with the law and got sentenced to 15 years in prison. I’m sorry but that’s what she gets for taking my shitty pair of blue-lense sunglasses (listen, it was 2001). After justice was served I forgot about the sunglasses – I’m not one to hold grudges. At least, I had forgotten until I found myself in the same situation as an adult (or whatever it is I’m classified as).

It was the day after a friend of mine and I had competed in a CrossFit competition – one that we didn’t win, place, or do good in, mainly because of me. Anyway, I was headed to the grocery store and after assessing the weather I decided a sweater was in order. So I grab my new gym hoodie (new as in I’d only had it for a few days), put it on, and from one day to the next it had transformed into a Pancho. I took it off and looked at the tag; sure enough, our hoodies had gotten mixed up and I had her large – a size she regretted getting because it too fit her like a dress.

No worries, I thought. We’ll just exchange hoodies when I see her at the gym. 3 days later I made my triumphant return to the gym, hoodie in hand, proud that I’d actually remembered to bring it, even though she never mentioned it over those 3 days. We had arrived at the gym at the same time so I made my way over to her and, hang on, is… is that… MY SWEATER SHE’S WEARING? 

It was.

I did a double-take. Was this some sort of Matrix simulation where I thought I had a sweater but didn’t and it was actually her hoodie all along and I was hallucinating that it was mine and maybe I even hallucinated my sunglasses and Kelly was in prison for no reason? Then I looked in my hand, the hand that was clutching the large hoodie.

Nope, she took it.

I immediately saw blue. I walked up to her and said: “hey, what size is that hoodie you’re wearing?” She replied, “I don’t knnnoooowwww”. Ok, that’s how this was going to go. She politely gave me permission to check the tag in my own sweater, which I did, and there it was. M. M for MINE. “Yup, it’s a medium”, I said, “you’ve got my sweater.” And do you know what she said?

“Oh, I thought when I washed it, it just shrunk.” Ok, we’re both Mexican, we’ve been doing laundry since we were born. We both know that no matter how much heat you apply to a polyester blend, it’s not shrinking an entire letter.

She laughed. I did not. Did I need to tell her about my sunglasses and how that ended for Kelly?

So we walk inside and she still has made zero attempts to give it back. Then she says, “we can trade back if you want”, still not making a move to take it off. Trade back?! IT’S MINE!

That fucking hoodie never budged. Luckily, I have a little pull in my gym and I was able to exchange HER hoodie to replace my hijacked one. BTW, when I told her I could probably exchange hers she said “OK!” and walked off.

I’ve only worn the new hoodie once. I want my original hoodie. I don’t want the replacement hoodie. Since then I’ve written my name on all of the tags in my favorite hoodies and jackets like I’m in Kindergarten. If only I’d had the chance to write my name in THAT hoodie. That’s what I think every single time I see her wearing it. “Hi hoodie, I miss you.” Take note, kids, you never really “leave” school.

I will say that she did end up losing a different hoodie that she liked quite a bit. It’s not 15-years in prison but it’ll have to do for now. We’re still friends, in case you were wondering.  I’m not one to hold grudges.

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