Petit Fours » A group blog of authors writing in different genres

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Stinky Coat

By Marilyn Baron

I’m writing to you from the closet in our new home. It’s quite a big closet since it has to hold clothes, shoes, purses and other paraphernalia for all 12 of the Petit Fours and Hot Tamales. It’s a carpeted, cedar-lined closet, with racks for all of our shoes and special compartments for our purses.  I’ve asked Miss Maggie where my winter coat is, because I’ve been looking in vain for it for hours, until I remember that I don’t have one. Well, I have the one I’ve had for years, which I still like, but I wanted a new one this winter season.

At the end of December, I went shopping for a new winter coat. By then, most of the coats had been picked over, but I found a beautiful black faux fur coat for a nice sale price.

I wore it out to dinner one night and my husband started sniffing when I got into the car. He wrinkled his nose and said, “What’s that awful smell?” Then he sniffed some more.  There was so much sniffing going on that I thought he was going to mark his territory. “It’s your coat. It smells like a chemical. You need to take it back.”

The thing about me is, I don’t have a sense of smell. So I couldn’t smell it at the time I purchased it. I called the store and asked them about it. The sales associate said it would just take time for the smell to dissipate.

“I don’t have time,” I explained. “We are about to go out of town and my husband won’t let me in the car with that coat.”

“Well, why don’t you take it to a dry cleaner and if that doesn’t work, bring it back and we can try to get the smell out,” she countered. “Then you can come back and pick it up. “

“But we’re leaving town tomorrow.

“That’s ridiculous,” my husband objected. We’re not going to pay to get a new coat dry cleaned.”

We tried hanging the coat up in the dining room, to see if the smell would dissipate, but the smell did not go away.  

So we spent three hours fighting traffic to get to the mall at Christmas time and returned the coat. The saleswoman took it back without question. She probably thought I was insane to buy the coat in the first place.  I’m sure she and the other sales associates had a good laugh about it.

That night we went out to dinner with friends. We drove the car we used to return the coat.

“What’s that smell,” my friend asked. “It smells like dry cleaning.”

I wondered if my husband had put her up to saying that.  So we launched into our story about the Stinky Coat.

Now, I feel like I’m in an episode of the TV sitcom Seinfeld, like “The Smelly Car.” Only mine is called “Stinky Coat.”

Has anything like that ever happened to you? What are some of your funniest return stories?


Pam Asberry - January 22, 2013 - 9:15 am

Poor Marilyn! It’s hard enough to find a coat in a style I like that actually fits; to have to return it because of its odor would be heartbreaking! I don’t really have any good return stories but I definitely enjoyed yours. :-)

Connie Gilla - January 22, 2013 - 9:56 am

I’ve never had to return a coat because of its smell. But when I was twenty-two years old,I had a short suede jacket that I thought made me look hot. I loved that coat. Wore it all the time along with my knee high suede boots. Then I got pregnant and developed morning sickness. That coat made me want to puke each time I came within a few feet of it. I would have given it away if I could.
Why I never noticed its smell until then, I can’t figure out.

Connie Gillam - January 22, 2013 - 10:00 am

The thoughts of that coat and its smell must have affected my brain. I forgot how to spell my last name.

Marilyn Baron - January 22, 2013 - 10:14 am


You are so right. I finally found a coat that fit AND I liked it. It was a real bummer.

Marilyn Baron - January 22, 2013 - 10:16 am


Thanks for commenting. Your story is great. I can definitely understand how you may have gotten sick of wearing something you wore when you were pregnant just by association. I was so tired of my maternity outfits after I wore them a gazillion times.

Sandra Elzie - January 22, 2013 - 11:18 am

Hi Marilyn,
Yeah, my computer come up about 10 minutes ago. (AT&T was having a major problem in our area)

I’ve returned some things over the years, but usually because of fit versus smell. I hate trying on clothes at a store…I feel like there’s cameras rolling ….or at least people watching.

Sorry for all the trouble you had, but it made good blog article material. :-)

Jamie - January 22, 2013 - 1:19 pm

I don’t have a stinky coat or funny returns story, but my husband use to always make fun of me for buying nonsensical clothing like short-sleeved sweaters for instance. “why would you buy something to keep you warm that doesn’t cover your arms?”

It was all good and fine for a few years, and I was continuously the butt of his jokes because I seemed to have a thing for short-sleeved sweaters. Then, he fell in love with a pair of corduroy shorts and a light bulb came on. “I guess I get it now,” he finally admitted.

Marilyn Baron - January 22, 2013 - 1:32 pm


Thanks for commenting. I hate taking things back because it underscores the fact that there is no closure in the world. You buy something and you have to take it back.

Marilyn Baron - January 22, 2013 - 1:38 pm

Knowing Brian, that makes perfect sense.

My daughter always wears shrugs and they look cute on her. She was never a fan of coats or long-sleeved sweaters either.

I, on the other hand, love long-sleeved sweaters because, being from Miami, I’m always cold in Atlanta.

Now that you’re a Florida girl, short-sleeved sweaters will be perfect.

Thanks for your comment.

Maxine Davis - January 22, 2013 - 2:32 pm

Marilyn, I enjoyed your post. And I had a cedar closet at my old house. Perfect for keeping my mother’s and grandmother’s handmade quilts. The thing I dreaded taking back was an expensive coat I bought. They left the doohicky on that will stain the outfit if you try to take it off so they (ususally) remove it at the register. Only they didn’t. Thank goodness I kept my receipt. Until I showed it, the lady looked at me like, “Uh-huh, sure I left it on.”

Marilyn Baron - January 22, 2013 - 2:44 pm


The people in the store always leave those scanner tags on and it’s a pain to have to take them back. Everytime I go through the airport the alarms go off and I can’t figure out why. Apparently a wallet I’ve had for years still had the tag on it. I went into Bed Bath and Beyond and the alarm went off and the woman laughted and said she knows what it is and sure enough she found that leftover tag on the wallet and cut it off. I bought it at another store but she was able to remove it and since then, no alarms have sounded.

Hildie McQueen - January 22, 2013 - 4:26 pm

Poor you! Too funny, it reminds me, I had a very pretty purse that was stinky, the problem was that it was a gift, so I carried it out once and I could barely stand it. It made my car stink! It’s safe and sound in the garage now.

Marilyn Baron - January 22, 2013 - 4:37 pm

That’s funny. A stinky purse that made your car stink, just like my coat. Keep it in the garage.

Shelley - January 22, 2013 - 4:44 pm

Four or five years ago when vacationing in San Francisco I purchased a cheap faux leather jacket. When we got back to our hotel room I noticed there was a funny smell. It turned out to be my new jacket. It smelled just like a tire. We left it in our room.

Marilyn Baron - January 22, 2013 - 5:39 pm

Shelley, what is it with the faux fur? It sounds like our coat and jackets were made out if skunk fur.

Susan Carlisle - January 22, 2013 - 6:48 pm

This is too funny. I’ve heard of Stinky Cat from Friends. Maybe you should write a song about your coat.

Marilyn Baron - January 22, 2013 - 8:24 pm

Thanks. Yes, Stinky Cat was a song on Friends. I guess I could write a song about Stinky Coat.

Anna Doll - January 22, 2013 - 9:53 pm

Too funny! One year, my husband talked me into “our” getting a new car that we definitely did not need. In retaliation, I found a beautiful, calf-length, white, rabbit-skin coat that I fell in love with! I was so proud of myself. The first time I wore the coat, I sneezed the entire time, and wound up with a headache that lasted three days. Of course, I didn’t attribute the “cold” with my lovely coat. After wearing it a couple more times with the same result, my husband sheepishly suggested the”coat” might be the problem, and I lit into him like ugly on a gorilla! I was NOT allergic to my coat, dang it. That summer, I had allergy testing without my husband’s knowledge and I found out that I was, indeed, allergic to the darn coat. I never did wear that coat again, and someone at he homeless shelter had a very nice cost that next winter. Karma.

Anna Doll - January 22, 2013 - 9:54 pm


Marilyn Baron - January 22, 2013 - 11:19 pm

Anna, I’m sorry that you were allergic to the coat. It sounded beautiful. Thanks for commenting.

Linsey Lanier - January 22, 2013 - 11:20 pm

Very funny story, Marilyn. Wish it had a happy ending, though. Maybe you’ll get a nice-smelling coat that fits soon and there will be a sequel. :)

Marilyn Baron - January 22, 2013 - 11:46 pm

The sequel is I got my old coat dry cleaned and I’m still wearing that. It is a nice coat too, I just wanted a new coat for a change. Maybe next winter.

Laura Russell - January 23, 2013 - 2:13 am

I love your title– the stinky coat! Must have been made from a type of polyester. Might not have been all that warm & cozy.

Good luck with your old coat.

Mary Preston - January 23, 2013 - 3:36 am

I do remember the “Smelly Car” episode on Seinfeld. Luckily I’ve never had a smell that hung around permanently. You were not meant to have that particular coat.

Marilyn Baron - January 23, 2013 - 9:18 am

Thanks. I don’t know what it was made of, just that people told me it smelled. I still like my old coat. It’s probably better anyway since it has a hood and it does keep me warm.

Marilyn Baron - January 23, 2013 - 9:21 am

I like that idea that I was not meant to have that particular coat, although it might have been perfect for me since I have no sense of smell, but not perfect for anyone who came near me.
Thanks for your comment.

Elaine Marlin - January 23, 2013 - 2:24 pm

I was waiting for you to write that you have no sense of smell! That can be bad, and good!
Do you remember one year, several years ago, that I was in Atlanta, and we went into a rather upscale department store. I tried on several slacks, and finally bought one. I wore it to an opera, and during the entire performance, I kept asking, Who smells so bad? I couldn’t move! Then, after several sniffs, I realized it was me! Or rather, my slacks: they were wool! I had never bought wool pants before, and never expected the odor. Eventually, I sent them to you, and you returned them for me. Now, I just shop at Macy’s and JC Penney, and never have that problem.

Marilyn Baron - January 23, 2013 - 2:58 pm

Maybe it was the same store where I bought my coat. I didn’t realize wool had a bad smell, since I can’t smell anything. Thanks for commenting.

Carol Burnside / Annie Rayburn - January 23, 2013 - 4:31 pm

What an odd thing to have happen, Marilyn, but I’m glad you turned the experience into a blog post. Perhaps it was some chemical they used in the process of making the fabric. Whatever the cause, I’m glad you took it back. Who knows what kind of fumes that coat was sending out into your world? You might have ended up sick from it.

Marilyn Baron - January 23, 2013 - 11:52 pm

You might be right. That would have been unpleasant. There are so many harsh chemicals around. I can’t believe I couldn’t smell it when everyone else was so affected by it.

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