Monday, January 3, 2011

Yes, We Have No Pajamas

It was an innocent, friendly kind of social question: What did you get for Christmas? There was no intent to mock, tease, or otherwise deride anything about said gift. But I could not help but howl when he told me “jammies …and flannel sheets with snowmen on them.” 

I couldn't stop myself. I asked if the jammies had feet. No, they did not. Well, that’s somewhat of a relief. My next thought was to ask if the jammies are flannel, (they are) and  then whether warn him about the Velcro Effect. I did. But the  vision of a grown man in flannel pajamas velcro'd between flannel snowman sheets just danced in my head.

I felt terrible about thinking these thoughts and decided instead that further research was required.

With the help of a colleague, I narrowed the term “pajamas” to mean a 2-piece ensemble made of either broadcloth or flannel that comes in a single package. The top should have buttons, and the bottom either an elastic or drawstring waistband. In other words, that which one imagines when one says “pajamas.” For the sake of Minnesota, thermal pajamas were included but excluded from this most scientific sampling were Joe Boxer flannel pants paired with unassociated t-shirts and/or scrubs.

Okay, the results are in. Almost 60 guys from all over the country were asked whether or not they wore pajamas to bed; of those polled, only 3 admitted to wearing pajamas, and one of those specified thermals in winter only. Otherwise, no way.  The rest of them had great answers like, “Not since I was ten,” or “Does a big t-shirt count?”

Every time I asked the question either in person or over the phone, there was this kind of shnorkly guffaw, like I couldn’t possibly be asking this question. And the routinely incredulous “no” made me wonder if I was, perhaps, asking something excessively weird. Apparently yes.

So, I began running a secondary survey for women, asking, “Are pajamas sexy on men?”  This was an interesting question and I had no idea what the response would be. Other than a single, “Only if George Clooney is in them, and even then it’s kinda iffy,” crack, without exception, the answer was no.

Moms report sons stop wearing pajamas around the age of 9, with pjs being replaced by  over-sized sports jerseys and later on, with weird t-shirts.  Some wives reported the sport jersey thing has carried over into adulthood, especially during football season.

Does any of this mean anything? I’m not sure, but I do think it speaks to a greater overall trend toward informality. Pajamas imply some kind of structure; one wears them specifically when one goes to bed, the same way one wears a tuxedo to a black-tie event. One does not take the trash out in one’s pajamas. And these days, one does not loll about in them unless one is called “Hef.” A haphazard collection of boxers, flannel pants, and decorated t-shirts signals an attitude of would-be cultural defiance. One may select the pattern of flannel pants, but more time was probably spent picking out just the right KISS t-shirt at that concert 20 years ago. 

And should you dare to ask what women do find sexy, the answer is “clean and commando.”  Really; I kid you not. 32 women were asked, and 27 of them went with the buck naked option. The other 5 said, “bottoms” as long as the top was buff.  Oddly, buffness was not an in-the-buff requirement. Go figure.

Wifely Person Tip o’the Week
There truly are times when less is more;
other times, not so much.


5 comments:

  1. Where did you get the last photo ??!!

    Do you know him personally ??!!

    Reminds me of :


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLTIowBF0kE

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  2. Great writing! You should do this for an occupation-seriously..

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  3. You didn't answer Gloria's questions. Is that last picture one of your sons? The musician or the other one?

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  4. Neither....it is a stock photo I found on line. Besides, if it was one of the boys, Gloria would not have asked; she knows what they look like!

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  5. Literally, 'pajama' comes from Persian pa (leg) + jama (garment)...leg garment. So the slatternly guy in the bottom pic is technically wearing a pajama. But I, myself, prefer to wear the two-piece ensemble, complete with matching silk robe, all color coordinated with my drink of choice. Only for lounging, however.

    -- Hef

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