The Raccoon Coat

Submitted by IN SEINE

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Back in the roaring twenties raccoon coats were the rage, especially among the college set in the ivy league schools. Just any raccoon coat wouldn't do. It had to be a full length duster almost reaching the floor to really be in style. John, a young man with a very rich but miserly father who was entering his freshman year at Harvard was surprised to learn when he moved into the dorm that he just couldn't fit in without a raccoon coat. He pleaded with his father that he just had to have a raccoon coat or would never make it at school. After several letters back and forth his father agreed to purchase a beautiful coat on one condition. The condition was that the coat must not be damaged in any way during the next four years. If there was any damage to the coat at all after four years the John would be disinherited and have to go find a job on his own. He would not be allowed to join the father in his very prosperous business.

John quickly agreed to the conditions without thinking of the implications. The father bought the best raccoon coat money could buy, then had several members of his staff count the number of hairs on the coat. They found there were exactly 1,524,203 hairs. A second group of staff members recounted and confirmed there were 1,524,203 hairs. The coat was then carefully sealed in a package and sent off to Harvard with a note informing the John of the hair count.

When John received the coat he was overjoyed that his ostracism by his fellow students was soon to end. Then he read the enclosed letter. He showed the coat to all his friend but was afraid to wear it under any circumstances for fear of damaging it in some manner. After everyone had seen the coat he resealed it in its box and placed it on the shelf in his closet. He often showed the coat to new friends but could never work up the courage to wear it until his senior year.

Harvard was playing Yale for the conference championship in football. He bought nine tickets to the game, three seats behind his, the seats to either side, and the three seats in front. He was going to be damned sure no one spilled drink or mustard on his beloved coat. He didn't enjoy the game at all because of his concern for his coat. Immediately after the game he returned the coat to the closet where it had been for three years after carefully spending several hours
recounting the hairs. All 1,524,203 were intact but after such a tedious job he made a mistake. He didn't reseal the bag in which he had been storing the coat these many years.

During the night a campus moth crawled under the door of the closet, fluttered up onto the box and crawled inside. He had a feast but being a small moth one hair was all his tiny stomach could hold. He emerged from the box, fluttered from the closet and flew up onto the light fixture to get warm and have a nap. The next day the hapless student decided to recheck the hair-count. It took him hours but when finished he knew he was in trouble. There were only 1,524,202 hairs. He wailed in despair at the top of his lungs. All his fraternity brothers came running into the room expecting the worst. John recounted the whole story about his fathers conditions and his impending fate.

In all the commotion the little moth asleep on the light fixture awakened. He listened to the story in amazement. As the whole story unfolded the moth became terribly sad.

Have you ever seen a moth bawl?

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