pajamas and empathy
Wednesday, December 6 2006
Arriving in the mail today were two pairs of pajamas, one for Gretchen and one for me. They'd been sent by Gretchen's brother and sister-in-law as "holiday" presents. In the past their ideas for gift clothes tended towards the practical (as opposed to fashionable) and the choices for me have generally been more appropriate than those for Gretchen. For example, when they sent us both overalls a year or two ago, I immediately started wearing mine (and still do to this day) while Gretchen put hers on once, proclaimed them dorky, and never put them on again. These pajamas seemed to be striking those same notes. Mine initially looked like a formless blue plaid man dress, but it turned out there was both a top and a bottom and, in the end, they looked nice on me, only adding about twenty years to my apparent age. As for Gretchen's pajamas, they suggested a basic familiarity with Gretchen's interests in that they were covered with little pictures of dogs. Unfortunately, though, these were purebred dogs, and in any case the overall pattern looked "very middle-age housewife." I was a little less charitable, saying that they looked like something my mother might wear if she ever became a grandmother.
This evening when I was just slumming around the house, I put on my pajamas to see how they felt. They were made out of some inexplicably comfortable material (100% cotton, made in China), bathing my body in a continuous wash of undeserved softness. Later, as Gretchen and I were in bed trying to go to sleep, she suddenly complained that she wasn't "comfortable." "Maybe you ought to put on those pajamas," I suggested. What a great idea! Though she looked like a dork, the dog-pattern pajamas blew her mind with their unrivaled softness.
Gretchen also commented that my suggestion, "Maybe you ought to put on those pajamas" was out of character for me, that it implied a heightened level of empathy above and beyond that normally shown. She theorized that this had something to do with my ongoing caffeine fast. This made sense to me; the absence of caffeine has allowed my serotonin levels to stabilize, no longer surging into wasteful peaks and then crashing into wide, empathy-free valleys.
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