By David Haldane
Dec. 26, 2019
The situation was urgent.
Two young women recommended to us as potential housekeepers had arrived to be interviewed for the job. The only problem was that it was 8:30 a.m. and I was still in bed.
“Oh my God,” I exclaimed to my wife, standing impatiently at the bedroom door, “they’re here already? Tell them to wait a minute and I’ll be right out…”
That minute was spent surveying my closet to ascertain just how critical things were. At T-minus-10 seconds and counting, I shrugged my shoulders and finally decided. The bulk of the delinquent second minute was spent grabbing my tee shirt and slipping a pair of jeans up over my by-now-bunched-up pajamas. As I sauntered out the door, I could feel the material usually so comforting in sleep crawling up the skin of my legs like burgeoning boils under those way-too-tight jeans. It forced me to walk awkwardly, as if just learning how.
“Forgive me,” I said to the pair seated with my wife at the dining room table, “so sorry to make you wait.” They stared at me uncomprehending which, it suddenly occurred to me, they probably were. “OK,” I said quickly, “well, thanks for coming; let’s all sit down and talk.”
And so we did.
Where I come from, there are basically two reasons for getting caught in your pajamas. The first is that you’re a lazy listless bum who pretty much never takes them off because there’s never any reason to. The second is that you’re a filthy rich success who pretty much never takes them off because there’s never any reason to.
That second condition, of course, was made famous in America by the now-deceased founding publisher of Playboy Magazine, Hugh Hefner, who was renowned for giving interviews to the press adorned in the same silk robe, pajamas and slippers he was said to lounge about in all day. That routinely happened at the lavish and well-known Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, which Hefner occupied for decades. The other things the mansion was famous for – perhaps infamous is a better word – were the frequent star-studded parties the magazine magnate threw there, often dressed in that selfsame pajamas and robe.
As a young wannabe journalist on the make in Southern California, in fact, my most cherished ambition was to somehow wangle an invitation to one of those parties which, I should probably mention, were also generally attended by large teams of scantily clad Playboy Bunnies highly motivated to entertain. Much to my everlasting disappointment that invitation never came, though I did eventually manage to land a brief interview with a low-level editor at Playboy’s Beverly Hills offices, thus affording him the opportunity to quickly shoot down the story I was pitching.
Grist, perhaps, for a future column.
For now, though, the point I’m trying to make is that, facing potential employees in the Philippines many years later, I had no interest whatsoever in impressing them either as 1/ a listless bum, or 2/ a listless wealthy foreigner. And so I pulled those tight little jeans up over my big rumpled pajamas, causing myself to walk like a cripple. Thus you can imagine my surprise a few days later on observing one of the young women we had hired spending the day in her own brand of casual nighttime wear.
At first, I thought I was mistaken. It was still early, I told myself; she had just prepared our breakfast and not yet had time to change. But as the day wore on and she continued performing her duties without the benefit of street clothes or, dare I suggest, the services of a toothbrush, well, I realized that my thinking just might have to change. That notion was confirmed the following afternoon when, dropping in unexpectedly on relatives in town, we came upon several of them still wearing their pajamas.
Could the culture really be that different in this strange new land to which I had immigrated with nary a thought regarding what I should wear? Was this daytime pajama wearing routine truly a national phenomenon, or just a millennial thing? And, God forbid, if it was millennial, had the culture of my own native country, in my absence, already evolved beyond my grasp?
None of these questions is immediately answerable. All, in fact, will require some critical and extensive pondering by me or on my behalf. For the moment, though, let me just say this: living in pajamas is a whole lot more comfortable. So, while doing my research, I plan to adapt.
David Haldane is the author of an award-winning memoir called “Nazis & Nudists.” A former Los Angeles Times staff writer, he is an American journalist, essayist and radio broadcaster whose 2018 story of the California desert garnered a Golden Mike award in feature reporting. He recently moved to Mindanao with his Filipino wife and their nine-year-old son. This column tells the unfolding story of that great adventure. http:///www.davidshaldane.com