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Insert Comma • A Portfolio of Leigh E. Rich
Shadow conspiracy

Now is the winter of my discontent

By Leigh E. Rich

There are only two things you can count on in this world—your unwaveringly loyal dog and a good set of flannel pajamas.

I admit, I felt a sense of equivocation when I pulled the warm and fuzzy PJs from my closet the other night. I can’t recall the last time the temperature in Denver specifically called for the flannel, as one pleasantly forgets such things like a mother who overlooks the pains of labor only moments after squeezing out live young.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not happy the thermometer plummeted last week. It bodes ill for the months ahead and I—clinically dead, according to my icy phalanges and the interminable chill in my bones—dread the white filtrate that is sure to soon tumble from the sky. I’d rather revel in the interstices between temperate and pleasant.

In the interim, I am comforted by the frill-less flannel that is so unlike all the flouncy things we women get to wear to bed. And trust me, I have more than most. If you can’t risk head injury from the frictionless satin-on-satin bed sheet and nightgown combination, then you’re just not giving fetishist Richard Wagner a run for his money.

Sure, I haven’t penned a bad limerick, let alone an opera, but I deserve to indulge in pink satin and perfume just the same.

But my blue, checkerboard PJs provide a much-needed service of their own. There are no crisscrossed straps to figure out, no beadwork or sequins, no plunging necklines, no escalating slits up the leg, no exposed skin to catch a winter’s chill. Just old-fashioned simplicity.

And they even have pockets—a luxury that’s absent far too often from women’s fashion—and I can bury my frosty hands like a chipmunk hordes nuts in his cheeks for his long journey home.

The flannel’s my suit of armor for the winter, that blustery season I loathe almost as much as reality television. And fall is too brief—our weathermen are already murmuring of snow and ice and scraping and sliding in the forecast. And they love it. They are why I stick to print and pooh-pooh the vagaries of broadcast journalism. Give me an editorial column any day: 500 words to write about anything or nothing at all, while the remainder of the working journalistic world waits like a four-year-old in a dentist’s office for inclement weather, natural disasters, political assassination and asininity—anything that will keep the nation abuzz longer than the country’s typical 23-minute attention span.

As a columnist, you can write about the ho-humness of everyday life. You need not stick a microphone or recorder before the current vilified community leader or the next great nine-year-old rap star. You can even write in your flannel pajamas.

And while the season finale or season premiere of your favorite television show has a wedding or a birth or a death or an arrest, for most of us, these things are few and far between. And good thing, too. Who knows whether the divine is in the details, but it most certainly is in the slightly napped surface of the loosely woven woolen cloth.

Who was it who said, “Give me a column or give me a retail job at Christmas”?

My flannel fortification won’t just protect against the cold—it will, I hope, deflect the glitches that come with the encroaching holiday season. For me, life’s downside has coincided with every major holiday—just so I won’t forget to mete out the memories like a high school poet’s bad verse. Relationships have dissolved—three New Year’s in a row, one on the Fourth of July, and two (with the same man) Thanksgiving ’97 and ’98. I faced surgery for a growing cancer on Labor Day, my dad on Memorial Day, my mother on D-Day. I was assaulted on Rosh Hashanah and then again, two years later, on Halloween. From the first day of the Hebrew’s calendar to the thaw of spring, I am a grinch and a bah-humbug.

I’m willing to concede my fellow citizens their tinsel and candy canes and carolers that seep into every nook and cranny, but give me Chinese food and all five Planet of the Apes movies on Christmas Day.

And a groundhog who knows his own shadow, so I can crawl out from under mine.

Rich, L. E. (2002, October 9). Now is the winter of my discontent. CU-Denver Advocate.

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