Life & Other Drugs

The Pajama Theory

November 11, 2017

Have you, reader, ever been to a Gap Body? Neither had I, until a friend’s last-minute bikini quest led me there in September. I thought it was one of those places that only sold soft-looking, impractical sport bras for women with small boobs. I also thought their use of the word “body” was strange, like they were saying yes, we are the master commanders of all body types, which they clearly weren’t. I was skeptical to say the least, but then I touched a shirt.

“Touch” seems too purposeful a word. It was, in fact, just an accidental graze. As I sluggishly walked behind my bikini-fanatic friend, I loosely dangled my arms. In the inconsequential sway of my hands, I caught what I can only imagine to be God between my fingers. Then and there, I considered the significance of thread-count for the first time in my life. Whatever it is, this shirt had a high one. I stopped and gripped the shirt in both of my hands. How could a single t-shirt be so soft? Were they killing puppies for thread or something? (Sorry, gruesome. But were they?!)

I thought Gap Body was for moms that enjoyed low-impact workouts like walking the aisles of a health-food store or lifting small dogs into purses, but I was wrong. Still holding the shirt, I twisted my head around, looking for a sign–a literal one. Then I saw it: Pajamas. The word felt foreign to me. When was the last time I said it? No idea. Did I own pajamas? Nope. Did my mom? Yes. The world, then, was suddenly clear.

What do I wear to bed? Nothing. *wink* Just kidding. I wear the classic bedraggled college student staples: high-school athletic shorts that have lost their drawstring and are ripped on the butt. Cut t-shirts from summer camp programs I did as a kid. Grey sweatpants I stole from my brother. And long sleeve t-shirts that I stole from my mother that are a little tight on me because my mother is quite petite and I am not.

But these things, these artifacts of a woman come undone, are not pajamas. They’re not cute. They’re not even that cozy sometimes. They expose me as someone who doesn’t “respect” bedtime like Gwyneth Paltrow would like me to. In Gwyneth’s world, I should be slipping into a white satin pajama set whilst enjoying the warm glow of a lavender-vanilla scented candle (not of my toxic blue-light iPhone screen). How I wish I could be like that. But as I stare at myself as I brush my teeth in the fluorescent light of a Sears House bathroom, that idealistic dream seems far off.

When was the last time I owned pajamas? I thought back to family photos, shots of my brothers and me wearing matching Christmas pajamas. Or even better, pictures of me holding my Barbie doll as we wore matching Barbie-themed nightgowns. It’s no big deal. I was very cool. But was that seriously the last time I wore pajamas? Could that be right?

Infants, children, adults, and senior citizens wear pajamas. Adolescents, hip college students, early twenty-somethings do not. Why is this? It seems to me that life is then all about getting back to pajamas. You learn to love them as children. They’re even something to be proud of. But then around age 12, they disappear. The next thirteen or so years of your life are then just a battle to get back into pajamas.

Are you, reader, ready for pajamas? Take this simple quiz.

  • Did you tell yourself that fries from Jo’s was an adequate dinner?
  • Have you not washed your sheets since you got to school?
  • Do you only brush your teeth once a day sometimes?
  • Do you scroll through Instagram without night-shift on at 3 a.m.?

If you answered yes to any of these, you definitely are not ready for pajamas. Here is a second set of questions:

  • Do you treat your bed as a “sacred space” and only use it for sleeping purposes?
  • Do you wake up at 4 a.m. like Martha Stewart to ensure productivity?
  • Do you know what REM sleep is and can you use it in a sentence?
  • Do you have a sense of self-worth and look forward to waking up in the morning?

If you said no to these ones, you’ve got some work to do before you are pajama-ready—something to work towards!

I myself often think back to that Gap Body shirt I touched back in September and wonder why I didn’t just buy it then and there. I might have to go buy one now, because some part of me believes that if I wear it, I will be able to harness the inner peace that both infants and the elderly experience. One shirt does not a pajama-wearer make, however. I’ll start slow, pairing the puppy-soft shirt with the tattered athletic shorts. Then, if that goes well, I can mix in the stolen sweatpants. Hopefully in a few years’ time, I’ll own a real set of pajamas (cute ones, with stars and moons on them). Because, after all, if babies can wear them, so can I.

Image via Caroline Zerilli.

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