I am gigging a lot at the moment, trying to get all my twelve shows up to scratch for my over-ambitious London run. With my family away for a night I had had a rare lie-in. I got up at midday and headed to the newsagent to buy some Monster Munch. A woman was exiting the shop with her two children. Her younger boy, about 8 or 9, was wearing his pyjamas. The lazy tyke! Still in his pyjamas at this time of day?
What he was doing was wrong. I had just got out of
bed and had had the decency to pull on some outside clothes (luckily really as
I sleep in the nude), so I don't see why he should be allowed to wear his night
clothes in the day.
For a younger, more feckless child this kind of behaviour might be acceptable. But this boy was too old to be in his pyjamas in the street. There are unspoken rules. A four year old or younger could get away with this and it would still be cute, but any older and you have shamed yourself and civilised society.
There have to be rules about this, because, of course, we’d all prefer to go everywhere in our pyjamas: they’re comfortable and they’re fun and it saves all the palaver of having to get dressed at the start of the day (or undressed at the end of the day). But it can’t be allowed. Not only would it mean none of us were taking our lives or our jobs seriously, it would also make us want to curl up and go to sleep at every given opportunity or build blanket forts at work. Also there’s the very real danger that trouser flaps might billow open and reveal the hideous things beneath.
The only adult exceptions to this rule are pretty female University students, (who have a six month window where wearing their bed clothes outside is cute and flirty and sexually confusing for their awkward male friends) and the keyboard player from the Boomtown Rats. Otherwise it’s a hard and fast law.
The look on the boy’s face told him that he saw
nothing wrong with what he was doing. He was smiling and looked like he didn't
have a care in the world. And I hated him for it.
I wanted to shout at him in the street, "Oi you! Slightly-too-old-to-be-wearing-pyjamas-in-the-street-boy. Put your proper clothes on!" It might make him cry and fearful of expressing himself in the future. But in the long run it would be good for him. Because he was too old to wear pyjamas in the street and if he wasn't stopped now, he might still be wearing them as an adult. And our hard won values would crumble.
I admit I envied him. I wish I could wear my pyjamas in the street, but I can't. Firstly I don't have any pyjamas, but secondly because I understand that it’s essential for me to conform to the rigorous and soul-crushing laws of society. We are not supposed to be happy or carefree (we have the first four years of our lives for such fripperies) and must work together to ensure nobody else escapes the rat maze.
Rules are designed to destroy all that is beautiful in the world and out of the envy the old have for the young. And that is how it must be.
What would happen if tomorrow we all went to work in our pyjamas? Dare you try it? You’re going to look a dick if you’re the only one.