You Would Look Just Fine if You Were Naked

I chose to ignore the clock’s suggestion after I awoke to pee, opting instead to remain upright and awake. The time, 3:48 a.m., suggested a return to bed and to sleep would have been appropriate. But putting on my morning clothes and making a cup of coffee seemed right to me.

Am I in the minority, I wonder; I mean, do others have “morning clothes,” a wardrobe subset between sleepwear and daytime apparel?

I’ve seen others’ morning clothes, but I don’t know whether they also constitute sleeping clothes; for some reason, I’ve not been invited in to others’ bedrooms to view their nightwear. Yet I have seen people emerge from bedrooms, dressed in outfits that readily fit into my category of “morning wear.” I would inquire about the nature of their clothing, except it might seem slightly creepy. It might even seem unacceptably forward (or, perhaps, far worse) to ask a woman friend, as she emerges from the guest room in the early morning hours, “Are you wearing what you wore to bed?”

As I consider my “morning wear,” it occurs to me that part of my wardrobe also constitutes what I’ll call “post day wear attire.” I’ll describe it: a baggy pair of workout shorts with an elastic waistband, a baggy t-shirt, and a pair of flip-flops. Generally, this extremely comfortable part of my wardrobe constitutes my clothing before I must leave the house in “presentable” form and after I return for the duration; that is, after I’m “in for the night.”

Part of the allure of “home,” I think, could be the comfort one associates with one’s dress at home. Social conventions that call for clothing that binds the body and the feet in unnatural ways may be abandoned at home; unless, of course, one expects more formal visitors to come calling. If one has real friends who might appear at one’s doorsteps, one does not need to put on pretensions by dressing up for them; friends accept and appreciate the casual and slothful comforts of one another.

I started to call my footwear by another name that I used to use to describe them: “thongs.” But the definition of “thongs” has morphed to describe clothing that barely covers one’s genitalia, it seems; other terms for “thongs” include “G-string” and “butt-floss.” So I chose the safer, less suggestive, alternative. Being unwilling to rely entirely on my memory to recall other terms for my favorite footwear, I looked it up; I have a very close relationship with dictionaries and their ilk.

The footwear we lately called “flip-flops” goes by several other names in other cultures and countries. Here’s a partial list:

  • zōri in Japan
  • dép tông or dép xỏ ngón in Vietnam
  • chinelos in Brazil
  • japonki in Poland
  • dacas in Somalia
  • sayonares in Greece
  • jandal in New Zealand
  • slippers in Hawaii, the Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Netherlands
  • infradito in Italy
  • djapanki in Bulgaria
  • charlie wote in Ghana
  • japanke in Croatia
  • vietnamki in Russia and Ukraine
  • yezenes in Latvia

I’ve chosen not to mention the specifics of my sleepwear; it’s not that I’m shy, it’s just that the discussion probably belongs in another, yet-to-be-written post.

But back to the matter of those elements of one’s wardrobe one wears around the house when greater formality is not expected but comfort is demanded: I wonder whether I am in the minority. I slog through most days in reasonable comfort, wearing shorts (with a belt), a moderately loose shirt (long pants and a sweater in days gone by, before climate change robbed us of Fall and Winter), and tennis shoes. Even those clothes, though, are too constrictive. Belts (as necessary as they are to prevent pants around the ankles at inopportune times) remind me of ties; they must have been born in years long past as instruments of torture. And shoes, with or without laces, represent vestiges of foot binding; they should be regulated to ensure non-constriction.

Ultimately, it all comes down to comfort. And, of course, it comes back to one of my favorite, but socially-unacceptable, topics: nudity. Why the hell don’t we just get over our puritanical psychoses and accept nudity as a natural aspect of humanity? “Nakedness” is the ultimate comfort (granted, for men (at least this one), wearing briefs prevents potentially painful swings and dangles). We’ve been trained to look at certain parts of the human body as either ugly or forbidden or both. And I’ll admit that there are certain parts of certain people (here, I raise my hand) that are not particularly pleasing. But we can get over that if we give ourselves time. People whose faces were disfigured by fire may not be immediately attractive, but we get used to seeing them and, if we get to know the people, we find their unique appearances appealing. The same would happen were nudity to be the next fashion trend. But we’re not even willing to entertain the idea, are we? No, I’m afraid we are not. There are too many wars to fight and cultures to conquer for us to think about the idiocy of legislated and enforced non-nudity. Jesus! Don’t get me started.

Okay, I’ll admit that some clothes are appealing. Like I said, I’m apt to wear briefs, even after the Apparel Enlightenment comes. And if I’m cold, I’ll cover up. And you can bet that I’ll wear long pants, both to protect me from the cold and to keep me from getting scratched as I amble through blackberry patches. Hell, if the environment calls for them, I’ll wear chaps, for God’s sake. But, generally speaking, I advocate for comfort over beauty. Beauty has its place, of course; I’ll never argue that beauty should be erased. But let’s be reasonable and conscious, always, of comfort, shall we?

This diatribe started with my contemplating morning-wear. I’m still waiting for an answer. Are there others whose uniforms are day-part specific? That is, certain attire for post-sleep pre-departure periods, other attire for walking around in the world, and yet other (or a return to post-sleep stuff) upon return to one’s lair. I think an exhaustive Gallup survey or full-scale information inventory should be conducted to answer my questions. We should know whether our habilimental habits are unique or whether our behaviors are widespread and embraced by our fellow human beings. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say access to this knowledge is a fundamental human right, I think it’s not wrong.

Back to clothing that I’d happily wear (beyond briefs), even after the Apparel Enlightenment. I’ve written before about my desire to design and produce clothing that has sufficient pockets of adequate size in appropriate places so I can carry all my “stuff” in readily accessible locations. I still want that. Nudity does nothing to make cell-phones and car keys and pocket knives and note pads and pens easier to carry. A well-designed shirt (or vest or pants or wearable “man-purse”) can better meet those needs than can a naked body. There’s a place for clothing. I’m not anti-clothing; I’m just opposed to forced cover-ups.

This one-way conversation seems to have gotten away from what I call flip-flops. I cannot convey specific attributes of flip-flops that make a particular pair appealing; but there must be certain characteristics I like and others I don’t, because I don’t like every pair I’ve worn. Yet I can’t say why I like some and don’t like others. I’d better hurry up and find out, though, because my remaining pairs of flip-flops are nearing their end-times. I’ve repaired a couple of pairs within the past few months. And I’ve reluctantly discarded others that were beyond repair. I’m left with very few pairs of usable flip-flops, each of them with limited lives left to them. So I need new ones at the ready. Now, as Fall approaches from a blazing distance, is not the time to buy flip-flops. I should have bought new ones in early Springs. But I may need replacements before next Spring (I wear flip-flops indoors, even in Winter). Achh! Well, I will have to make do with what I have, I suppose. I’ll have to wear a pair or two that do not fully measure up in terms of comfort. I like spongy soles and soft straps. Some of my remaining pairs have hard soles and leather straps I’ve allowed to harden into strips like dried mesquite branches. I’ll accept the lessons those flip-flops are teaching me.

It’s nearing 6:30 and I’ve allowed my first cup of coffee to go cold. Time to replace the tepid liquid in my cup with hot stuff. I have to shower and shave before long, in preparation for my visit to my doctor for my annual physical. That means I’ll abandon my morning clothes for attire deemed more acceptable in the broader society outside my doors. Lace-up shoes; belted shorts, and button-down shirt (but not tucked in, by God!). After the physical, I’ll reward myself in some fashion. Perhaps it will be lunch at the newest Village restaurant, xPlore Lakeside. Or maybe I’ll wander into Hot Springs in search of flip-flops. Or something else. Time will tell. My spouse has another doctor’s appointment in Little Rock this morning, so I’m on my own for awhile after my physical; I have the freedom to wander aimlessly through the countryside if I wish.  Ach! Just two more hours until the physical. I’d better go for coffee while I have the chance.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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