Good pair of pajamas is a hard thing to toss

Normally I don’t start out conversations describing what I am wearing. In the same way, I don’t entertain unsolicited phone conversations with strangers who call, breathe heavily and ask me what I’m wearing. But for the record, it’s a pair of seven-year-old Nick and Nora sock monkey pajamas.
The monkeys on the light blue flannel fabric are pictured in several ridiculous poses: holding hands, wearing their clueless sock monkey grins; watching an old-style television; reclining in a hammock under a palm tree; bowling, and, of course, slipping on a banana peel. What more could you expect of caricatures of animals that naturally look like animal caricatures?
Stylish? Maybe in a retro-trendy way back when I got them, but scores of washer and dryer trips have considerably diminished their charm. Even the word “ratty” wouldn’t do them justice. The cuffs on the sleeves and hem are frayed, set-in stains abound, and the fabric has worn through in places.
I reached to put my hand in their right pajama top pocket the other day and accidentally caught my fingers in the hem, tearing a six-inch horizontal strip. I felt terrible. Not just because of the damage, itself, but due to knowing what it heralded: an undeniable beginning of the end for the favorite flannel PJs, as ominous as a senior falling and breaking a hip.
Sometimes, on those rare occasions when I don’t have more pressing menial mental demands, I wonder what my kids’ school bus driver thinks of the tattered pajamas he sees me wearing when I wave them off to school at 6:30 AM weekday mornings. “Poor woman! Probably doesn’t have a job and is forced to hang out all day wearing those shabby things! Too bad she can’t afford something better.”
But I already do have something better: a pair of off-white cow-print PJs of similar men’s flannel pajama style, with purple and black spots. They hang like a jilted beauty pageant runner up in the guest room closet, just waiting to make their triumphant entrance, should some harm befall the reigning favorite sock monkey pajamas. I’d hate to break those out too soon, not until after the official demise of my sock monkey nightwear.
Truth told, I don’t have the heart to get rid of them. Not only are they frumpily comfortable, but they were the last birthday gift from my grandmother. The year before her death, when she was 95, she also gave me a pair of matching sock monkey slippers for Christmas, six days after my birthday.
Should I blame the tacky pajama choice on my grandmother? I can’t. The sock monkeys came after she’d given up driving. At Christmas, she’d request her grandkids just go out and find something they wanted and then bill her for it. Grandma Kate was certainly delighted when I showed up with the wacky jammies and the equally silly matching slippers. Some things really appealed to her sense of humor. These were one of them. If still alive, she’d no doubt be laughing at my having difficulty parting with the darned things.
It was almost as bad with the nasty-looking, fleece, lint-balled, dark green pair of pajamas the sock monkey ones replaced. I had purchased them extra large on purpose while I was pregnant with my first child. They were associated with a far happier and more hopefully expectant time in life. Therefore, they could not be parted with until the elasticity had left the elastic and they no longer stayed up around my waist. Thank goodness the sock monkey pair showed up like a relief corp.
I am just as bad with my summer pajamas, which have zero sentimental value. I purchased the pseudo-quilted looking, lounge-style pajama bottoms at the St. Vincent DePaul thrift shop to use when painting, as they already were paint-splotched. Because I liked them, I used a toothbrush, vast quantities of paint thinner and elbow grease to remove the paint. The matching print nightshirt was later located at a Salvation Army donation center and was cause for great, pathetic celebration with my great, pathetic self.
It doesn’t take much to make me happy. Only a monkey’s uncle would think otherwise.


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