Almost like retiring a sports jersey

[Originally ran in the December 2015 issue of The Village.]

Wearing the same shirt two days in a row is acceptable behavior under three conditions, and three conditions only: 1. You’re housebound by choice or illness; 2. You’re convinced you won’t bump into any of the people you bumped into the day before; or 3. You just don’t care anymore, and are likely wearing the same shirt with sweatpants or any type of flimsy flannel leggings featuring a sports motif and an elastic waistband.

Pants fall under two categories: jeans and non-jeans. One can wear a pair of Levi’s all week long, and no one’s going to notice; however, if you wear those brown corduroys Monday through Friday, people are going to wonder (while gleefully passing judgment). I’m not sure why we give a pass to chronic jeans-wearers, although, being one, I’m glad we do.

Shoes and belts and watches don’t count – they may remain as constant as a pair of glasses. The same may not be said of undergarments, even though the results of continuous use are apparent mostly to the wearers (i.e. violators) and their unfortunate mates.

But pajamas. Ah yes, pajamas, the most leisurely of leisure wear. While I sense that many people have dispensed with pajamas in favor of T-shirts and underwear (which I’ve done plenty of times), there’s nothing as purposefully luxurious as slipping into a pair of pajamas, whether in the evening or the morning, for it is then that one knows for sure that he or she is about to do something or nothing in complete comfort in the sanctuary of their home.

If one good thing came out of British colonialism, it was tea. If there were two good things, the second would be pajamas, which they picked up from Muslims in India. (Parenthetically, in a recent campaign speech, Dr. Ben Carson stated he believes all Americans may wear pajamas, so long as they renounce the tenets of Islam). Because Britain’s influence was so powerful during its height in the Victorian period, pajamamania spread throughout Europe, America, and other parts of the globe.

Pajamas are known by plenty of terms – jams, PJs, jammies, jimjams, jamas, nightie, nightshirt, sleeper, and sleeping suit, from which we derived the simple term “suit,” which may also be used as a verb. For example: “Are you suited already?” “Yes, Diane, I am suited.” “But it’s six o’clock.” “I know. So get suited up already so we can have dinner while catching up on ‘The Muppets’.”

When the jammies were new...
When the jammies were new…

And now we come to the problem. And the problem is this: my suit is, to borrow a phrase from the Stones, torn and frayed. Age and use will do that. We bought a matching pair from Brooks Brothers many years ago, a deep blue pinstripe set, flannel, comfy as hell. The first part of Di’s suit to fall apart were the pants, which lost their elasticity and assumed a clownish air. She’s been wearing another pair of pajamas lately, which may be cute, but don’t match mine. My robe is disintegrating at the cuffs and collar, since I wear it most mornings while doing my writing; I’ll hang it up in the afternoon, only to retrieve it a few hours later for the evening.

But I’m loth to do away with the Velveteen Robe, even though it looks awful (the recent paint stains don’t add to its aesthetic appeal) and Diane and I really need matching suits again. How can it be that I’ve become emotionally attached to an article of clothing? Or is that, with prolonged wear, I’ve actually become physically attached to it?

For a few years, Di wore a pair of red socks with brown monkeys on them. As amusing as they were, they had to go when they started slipping down her ankles. But, c’mon, they were The Monkey Socks, and couldn’t be tossed out like some type of flimsy flannel leggings featuring a sports motif and an elastic waistband. So I cut out a 16-square-inch section of a sock and framed it. The monkeys live on. Similarly, when we finally retired our first set of everyday dishes a couple of months ago – we’re talking vintage mid-‘80s Mikasa – I set aside one blue speckled plate to hang on our kitchen wall.

So I suppose I could do that with my pajamas. Though I’m on the fence with my underwear.

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Dana Pearson is a writer living in Kennebunk, Maine.
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