Friday, September 26, 2008


And speaking of more delicate matters, I have to tell you that I have never owned a pair of real silk pajamas. My friend Lucy, who worked in the office next to mine on the job I held before I retired, waltzed into my office one day and said, “I just got a new pair of silk pajamas. I love them. I have 12 pairs. How many do you have?”

I looked at her like she was crazy. Well, she kind of was. Or eccentric is more like it. Except that she came from a very well-to-do family and I think having 12 pairs of silk pajamas would not have been considered eccentric in her milieu.

Lucy was a walking anachronism. Although just a few years older than I was, her world was the world of the 1940s. If you closed your eyes and envisioned a movie with Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth, Susan Hayward, or Gene Tierney, you would see Lucy in it. She dressed very stylishly, though with a definite 1940s flair. At 70 she had a trim body, a firm bust line, hair that had only just started getting a few gray hairs and surprisingly few wrinkles on her face. She did not have a crepey cell on her arms or neck. She denied ever having plastic surgery and there were no telltale signs. She simply came from good stock, and probably the use of good creams and potions kept her skin firm and moist. The songs she hummed were wartime songs (That’s WWII, for those of you who don’t know which war I am talking about.) Her ideas on morals and manners were fixated in that time period too.

On that day when she asked me how many pairs of silk pajamas I had, I simply considered the source, although I could hardly imagine how anyone could make use of twelve pairs! So I asked her.

“Oh, I sleep in some of them and others I just wear around the house on Saturdays and Sundays. I always keep a couple of new ones in the drawer. I don’t bother to get dressed on the weekends unless I am going somewhere, though I actually feel quite well-dressed, quite elegant when I have my silk pajamas on.”

She was very distressed to learn I not only didn’t have a single pair but that I never had a pair and furthermore I never intended to have one. She said I was missing out on one of life’s luxuries. I half-expected her to give me one of her unused pairs for Christmas that year, as on every Christmas we worked together the gift she picked for me was from her overabundance stored in the hall closet. She always told me up front that she hadn’t bought the present for me but that she had received it from someone else and thought it was nice enough to pass on (now called “regifting,” thanks to Seinfeld). And I never took offense, because we really only were expected to exchange token gifts anyway. Besides, her friends had really good taste.

I did, just this past spring, buy myself a pair of silky pajamas, except they were 100% polyester from Target. I let my little granddaughter pick out the color. I must say, combined with my non-utility underwear, I’m beginning to feel quite elegant in my old age.

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