There was a mildly sheepish quality to my voice. I could hear it as, during a long phone visit with a good friend, I tentatively asked (while also wondering to myself if I could quickly withdraw the question if it were poorly received), “Do you ever go all day without getting dressed?”
Not counting sickness of the type that keeps you in bed hoping to die, I had never in my working life of nearly 50 years done that. That is, not until half a dozen years into my retirement and since then, I certainly had not confessed it to anyone.
To my great relief, we had a long laugh together about blowing off the morning shower now and then and not leaving home all day, noting too that as official old people – I'm 75 and he is 78 - there are days when, for no good reason we are too weary of mind, body or both to do anything but stay home. So why get dressed.
There were some guilty feelings the first times I did this and some imagined difficulty in getting to the mailbox “undressed” until I realized that no one would notice, in winter anyway, because I sleep in sweats. In my area, that's daywear for many.
Then my friend and I considered the bed. Or, rather, changing the sheets which I have always considered to be the most difficult and annoying housekeeping chore.
THE BATTLE OF THE FITTED SHEET
In that career half century of mine, I changed the bed every Saturday morning and dropped it off at the laundry along with all the other dirty stuff. Let them try to fold the damned fitted sheet.
But that's not the only fitted sheet aggravation. Getting it onto the bed is an exhausting struggle but using a flat sheet is worse when it comes undone during the week. So to this day I live with the battle of the fitted sheet.
For 20 years or so, somewhere there in the middle of my adulthood, I switched to a duvet and comforter but as the years went by, as I got older, trying to get what amounts to an Andre-the-Giant-size pillow case onto the comforter doubled or tripled the bed-changing annoyance. I gave it up.
At that point, I also gave up the top sheet because whether at home, in a hotel, staying with friends, wherever I was, overnight I got so tangled in it that getting out of bed became an Olympic event.
With that change, I took up thin quilts figuring that I could add and subtract them as the weather and bedroom temperature required. That is, until I realized I would need to wash the bottom one, next to my skin, every week creating the need – when I retired and gave up paying others to do my wash – for two loads of laundry instead of one.
Good god, it never ends. Get rid of one hassle in life and two more pop up.
Have I made it clear how much I despise all bed chores? I would have been a terrific rich person; I'll bet Melania Trump does change her own bed.
Ah, but wait. There was a solution.
For decades, I had slept naked but in my incipient old age had switched to those sweats mentioned above. Now that my body, with all its sweatiness, discarded skin cells and other detritus, was almost wholly covered at night, What harm could there be, I said to myself, in laundering that bottom quilt and that bottom sheet every two weeks instead of weekly, cutting in half the time I would need to do combat with the fitted sheet.
Since my first confession to my friend had gone so well, I tried the bottom sheet and quilt wash schedule and not only did he laugh, what a great story I got from him.
He too hates wrestling with fitted sheets and his current living arrangement came with a king-size bed. It, as you undoubtedly know, is the size of a football field - six people could sleep together without touching one another. So for one week he sleeps on one side of the bed and the next week on the other side. Then he washes the sheets.
Like me, he has cut his fights with the fitted sheet by 50 percent..
GETTING OUT OF THE HOUSE. OR NOT
We agreed too it gets harder with our advancing years to leave home or, more precisely, to want leave our homes. So often it just seems easier and more comfortable to stay home (with or without getting dressed).
I watch such changes as they come along and although I know perfectly well, as I've mentioned before, that if it is happening to me, it's happening to thousands, maybe millions of others, it was still a great, good surprise when a confession was met with agreement and laughs.
Another old friend in the same age range with whom I regularly have long phone calls told me recently that he too leaves home less and less frequently and was trying out a new home fitness routine to see if it keeps him as healthy as the gym he attends three times a week.
This friend reminded me that pretty much anything you want in life can be delivered - certainly in Manhattan where he lives if not everywhere else. “If this routine works out,” he told me, “I may never leave home again.”
I had another laugh over this stuff that day but not quite as hearty - maybe it is becoming too real...
Does any of this ring a bell with you?
* * *
Yesterday, Vice President Mike Pence cast the deciding vote in the Senate to confirm billionaire and public school ignoramus, Betsy DeVos, as secretary of Education. You know, the woman who has zero knowledge of public schools and believes guns should be allowed in schools because - grizzly bears. She and the vote are shameful.
Do not ever forget who cast this deciding vote. And do not, come the next Senate election, forget which senators voted to confirm her. It's easy to remember: Every Democrat opposed DeVos as did two Republicans, Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Every other Republican senator voted to confirm.
Now might be a good time, if you have a Republican senator or two, to call their offices and speak your mind. The main switchboard number is 202.225.3121.