My Romanian Sweater


This sweater is warm.

According to the well-worn label, the sweater was made in Romania, a country I couldn’t locate on map or tell you if, in fact, it is still a country after the fall or Communism or even if it was ever under Communist rule. I assume a lot. It sounds like a country that could’ve been under Communist rule, but it might also be just an out-of-the-way little country filled with people, mostly Romanians, who love it there and can’t ever imagine leaving.

I wonder sometimes if Romania (or whatever it’s called now) is a famous sweater-making country. Maybe it is. Maybe, just maybe, one day I’ll met someone from Romania and I’ll say something like, “Where are you from?” and they will say “Romania” and I’ll say, “No shit, I have a sweater from Romania” because sometimes you just want to try to make a connection with another human being waiting in a Jiffy Lube waiting area, drinking a cup of stale coffee. Stale because it was made this morning and it’s 3:30 in the afternoon.

They might say something back like “Oh, that’s nice.”

“It’s very warm,” I might say in return.

“No, actually, it is very cold most of the time.”

‘No,” I say again, scooching up in my chair, “I mean the sweater is very warm.”

“Oh,” they would say back and then reach for an old edition of Southern Homes and Gardens lying on the black table in the middle of the waiting room. They probably have no intention of reading the articles but just look at the picture. I assume this because that’s what I would do. They have nice pictures over there at Southern Homes and Gardens.

The magazine seems like a sign the light banter is over. So I plunge into the deeper questions of life.

“Is Romania know for its sweaters?” I would ask.

Again, another assumption. I assume that Romania must have lots of competing sweater factories because it’s cold there oftentimes and one random Romanian sweater wound up on a rack in a Goodwill second-hand store where I snatched it up for $3.99 because it was Tuesday and all items with an orange tag were 50 percent off on Tuesdays. I wear it quite often. That’s not an assumption. That’s a fact. Because, and I may have mentioned this, it’s warm.

My new Romanian friend would look up from the page where Southern Home and Gardens has printed a cornbread recipe and a beautiful photo of cornbread, which seems out of place in a Jiffy Lube and say, “No.”

I won’t be quite sure if he means “no” as in “No, the country of Romania is not really famous for its sweater making” or “no” as in “No, I’m not answering that question and this conversation is over.”

It didn’t matter because almost as soon as he said “no” the guy at the register would shout out, “the Black Toyota Camry,” meaning that the black Toyota Camry was ready and I would get up because that is my car and it’s ready.

I suppose maybe I’ll never know if Romania has hundreds of sweater factories located in tiny little mountain hamlets. I may not even know whether Romania has mountains or hamlets for that matter. We always assume that foreign countries do for some reason, I think. I could check it out on Wikipedia or something just to make sure but can you really trust just anything you read on the Internet? No, I’ll just keep on assuming. It’s safer that way.

What I do know beyond the shadow of a doubt is my Romanian sweater keeps me warm on cold days and it might be the best $3.99 I ever spent.

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