When moving to another country there is much that is unfamiliar and so navigating each day simply requires additional energy. After some time the perennial suspicion of being taken for a ride or short changed gently starts to subside. Realistically, nothing changes in one’s environment but none-the-less things begin to appear brighter and breezier. The nickels are of course larger than the dimes and worth less and the price of a bag of cotton balls will increase because tax will be added by a very rude lady. You will not be allowed to leave a shop with a bottle of wine in your hand, not because you are pregnant but because it is illegal to show your proclivities in public. The Weather Channel is not to be taken any more seriously than Bugs Bunny and so we are not running out of salt, or going to be rescuing kittens clinging to branches above torrential floods any time soon.
That said, when I recall my first weeks in DC, they are still shrouded in that twilight zone of initial contact with the extraneous and unknown. First there was the DC bus driver who struck out at me when I tried to retrieve the change which had rattled into the little tray in front of me. The next memory that remains darkly engraved was my first visit to a CVS. This is a shop that defies description. It is a shop that sells prescription drugs and cigarettes, dietary aids and giant tubs of ice cream, extension cables and nail art, greeting cards and pots into which your offspring can pee after a party so you can verify what they imbibed, snorted or otherwise experienced. All I was trying to do was to buy a bottle of Johnson’s baby shampoo but it was held in a locked glass cabinet in one of the aisles. I had to ask a member of staff help me and stayed resolutely mute throughout the retrieval of the key and the unlocking, for fear of something even weirder happening.
After nearly six years CVS is still bloody weird, it has now lost all its staff which only makes things worse but at least the baby shampoo is accessible to all at our local branch.
In fact most things have become familiar but now and again something fresh still comes along to make one wonder in disbelief as it did this morning.
I was attempting to fight myself into the traffic on Massachusetts Avenue when a sponsorship ad came on the radio (NPR) for Pajama Gram. It proved distracting enough that I missed the one slot in the traffic and the cars behind me began to reverse back up Jamestown Rd, intent on finding some other imbecile to make them late for work. The ad was for hoodies and footies, not just for your children but for the entire family this holiday season. What this amounts to is PJs that will make you look like an elf and an ungainly one at that.
I first spotted these creatures hanging up in Target – forlorn, bodiless entities rather like Peter Pan’s lost shadow. They are, what I can only describe as, ‘baby grows’ but these are for giant babies. I found it disconcerting. What 16 year old male would be seen dead in such apparel and would they don it willingly or under duress?
A quick scour of the Pajama Gram website and, whatever the urge, the company clearly has the market covered. Not only can you coordinate your entire family in hoodies/footies.. but you can get matching apparel for your dog. Well versed in the big holiday retail business – the site offers a ‘Family Pajama Planner’. Identify how many grown fully- blooded males, buxom females, teenage girls, boys, toddlers, infants and dogs you have and wham bam – credit card and you are away for a super snuggly and horrifically unattractive holiday season. For the more sensuously minded seductress $99.99 gets you the Sexy and Sweet Midnight Fantasy (a faux black satin baby doll chemise and culottes + a pink velvet footie/hoodie).
Ever since my first sighting I am occasionally struck with the memory of their existence and find myself scanning the neatly groomed houses on our street wondering behind which facades these garments are being gloriously made flesh. Quite honestly I find it freaky. I have also occasionally found myself wondering curiously in which homes guns linger under the bed but of the two I think the hoodies and footies are definitely the more disturbing element. The combination of these, plus guns, does not even bear thinking of. Surely not? But with names like Midnight Fantasy together with the frightening events surrounding our Ohio hostess’ assistant – well maybe.
Despite what the Tea Partyists would have people believe about us liberal Socialist Euros, I have no great aversion to guns. My grandfather had a locked metal cabinet with several guns and another friend kept a gun by the loo window so the family could multitask and take pot shots at rabbits. I even went stalking in Scotland and had to disguise myself in a bog for several hours with only a squished banana for warmth. But I can seriously say that I have never seen anyone, older than three, wearing a baby grow – unless they were featuring in an embarrassing Cosmopolitan article about city gents going back to “Nanny” for kicks.
I am afraid when it comes to hoodie/footies, this goes just one veloured foot too far for liberal sensitivites.