by Sarah Kurchak (CHARTattack)
Dear Joel Plaskett,
I see that you got a very special gift this holiday season.
In a post titled “What did you get for Christmas?” on your website, there’s a photo of you, an instrument in one hand, liquor in the other, Zeppelin cap on head, posing in your very own Hudson’s Bay coat.
Now, musically, you’re already an integral part of this country’s culture and identity, but possessing this type of coat is about to weave your daily adventures into the fabric of our nation in an entirely different way.
These coats have been worn by Canadian athletes at the Olympics. And they’ve even been brandished by some of our troops in the War Of 1812. By sporting the green, red, yellow, blue and white, you’re becoming a sartorial ambassador — and warrior — for our country.
To prepare you for this exciting new chapter in your life, I would like to share some tips I have learned as an almost 10-year veteran of the Bay Coat Army.
1. Be prepared to talk to strangers
This one should be easy for you as you’re already a public figure and not a shy, reclusive music journalist, but the subject matter of your conversations and the demographic with which you have them might be a little different.
Out of nowhere, people might ask you where your fur hat is. Older women will want to share stories of the coats they had as little girls. Fellow Bay coaters will share conspiratorial nods and grins with you as your striped paths cross in the frigid night. There’s something about those colours, something about the symbolism of the coat that shakes many of us out of our collective national reservations and shyness and makes many a Canadian almost giddy and gregarious. With that last point in mind:
2. Be patient
While many an imagination is sparked by your coat’s colours, far fewer minds are able to remember what they mean. I’ve had the word “Sears!!” yelled at me countless times over the years (sometimes with air-canoeing gestures thrown in for good measure). An otherwise intelligent friend of mine still introduces me to people as “the girl with the Eaton’s coat.”
While it can be frustrating to see your fellow countrymen so confused as to the true history and identity of our national wearable blanket, we must appreciate their enthusiasm and kindly educate them about it. Show them the narrow blue lines that should be on the inside of your coat and tell them that each line is worth one beaver pelt. People seem to love that one.
3. Watch your back
All that wool does wonders to protect you against the cold, but it’s a noble burden that weighs very heavily upon the shoulders.
If you have muscle imbalances or weakness, your upper trapezius fibres and levator scapulae muscles will try to compensate.
It will hurt. And, in the worst cases, nerves will get pinched. I spent one of my first winters with my coat unable to lift my left arm above my shoulder.
A musician with such limited range of motion would be a very unfortunate thing, indeed.
Most of all, though, I hope that you enjoy the experience. Wearing a Bay Coat is sort of like being in a secret society, if you replace controlling the world with being warm and getting to talk to little old ladies all the time. I look forward to sharing that conspiratorial nod with you some day.
Sarah “My Coat Is Worth Four Beavers” Kurchak