Walter: When a coat makes its wearer a target
When I bought my Marmot-brand Mammoth parka at Paragon in Union Square a few years ago, I had no idea I was buying a jacket that was so popular.
I thought I'd found a great buy -- on sale at the end of winter. Filled with goose down, it's incredibly warm. I love the inner and outer pockets, and the detachable hood is great during snowstorms.
When my community college students told me I had a cool jacket -- known as the "Biggie" -- it confirmed that my taste was hip for an older person.
Little did I know I had been taking my life in my hands every time I wore the bulky black parka.
Two young men were shot at the Bryant Park skating rink this weekend -- reportedly after one of them refused to hand over his "Biggie" to a Bronx teenager police have now charged with attempted murder, among other offenses. The family of one of the victims -- 14-year-old Adonis Mera of Manhattan -- fears he may be paralyzed.
Marmot had discontinued the coat for unspecified reasons. The parka has been linked to the violent deaths of two young men who were wearing their coats, including one 16-year-old on the Lower East Side last winter.
The coat's big pockets apparently are popular with gang bangers to stash illegal guns and drugs. I used the pockets for my water bottle.
Police have said suspect Corey Dunton also shot Javier Contreras, 20, of Manhattan, in the hand and hip after he reportedly refused to part with his "Biggie."
I pray that Mera will fully recover. And I hope the 16-year-old suspect is prosecuted as an adult.
Let's be clear: Anyone who uses a gun to terrorize people needs to be dealt with harshly.
Meanwhile, I'm not sure what to do with the "Biggie" in my closet.
I really don't have $500 to $600 to shell out for a new coat, and it does not matter that I travel in safe areas. What could be safer than a skating rink in midtown?
I probably have a month or two -- before it gets really cold -- to decide about my "Biggie." But I'm leaning toward wearing it. Why should I let fear lead me to buy outerwear I don't need?
What I know is that if some criminal demands my "Biggie," he or she can have it.