Friday, 13 June 2008

Haute couture in the country

This morning I drove to the nearest big town, 20 kilometres away, to do my weekly shop. I go there because there’s a Pick’n’Pay, and after eight years of begging for them to stock outlandish things (like poppadums, for instance – the first time I asked the store manager about them he just assumed I was a stutterer – and capers for puttanesca pasta sauce; and smoked pork hocks, without which it is impossible to make my favourite pea-and-ham soup; and sour cream, apparently a novel concept here in the dorengone) they now finally have most of the things I need.

But mainly I like going there because no-one turns a hair when I shop in my pyjamas.

There’s something fabulously liberating about not having to worry about making yourself presentable to the general public when going on a foray outside your home, and it’s one of the big pluses of living away from the city. Even my teenage daughter, who wouldn’t be seen dead in ‘the real world’ (ie, anywhere but here) without her mascara thinks nothing of running into the local farmers’ co-op in her rabbit-ear slippers to pick up bread and milk. (They’re not made of rabbit ears; they just look like rabbit ears.)

The downside, of course, is when you erroneously carry this philosophy elsewhere.

I imagined (fondly) that people here in the country don’t look twice at me as I trundle my trolley around the supermarket in my pink fluffy top and matching drawstring pants because they look a bit like day clothes. But apparently not.

A few months ago I was compelled to go into the city on business, and decided in the morning to keep on my pyjama bottoms (these particular ones are black silk splotched with big red roses) because – well, they’re really comfortable and they look nice and I just couldn’t be arsed to find something else to wear. I did put a real top on – a red ribbed jersey – and real shoes – black heeled boots – and when I gave myself the once-over in the mirror before I left I fully approved of my reflection.

So you can imagine my horror when, waiting at the reception/security desk of the office building where I was due to have a meeting, I overheard the following conversation, conducted in whispered Afrikaans behind me.

Young man #1: Is this woman wearing pyjamas?

Young man #2 (after a pause during which I could feel his eyes boring into me from behind): Ja, they look like pyjamas.

Young man #1: They are pyjamas. My mom’s got some the same.

Young man #2: Never! What kind of person wears her pyjamas to work?

Young man #1: A mad person. I can’t wait to tell my mother about this.

I stood there, my spine rigid and my ears burning, while the young men giggled behind me. When the security people finally let me through, I marched briskly across the lobby and when I reached the safety of the lifts, I turned around to have a look at my critics. To my intense embarrassment, they’d gathered a few mates around them and were pointing me out, while slapping their thighs and having a jolly good old laugh at my expense.

Still, my tattered ego was slightly soothed later that afternoon, when I stopped in at my usual Pick’n’Pay to buy a few essentials, and the manager said to me, ‘You look very nice today. I see you’re not wearing your pyjamas…’

So there.

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Juno said...

Mur, as someone who spent an hour in Sandton City today wearing her scraggy old jeans BACK TO FRONT, I can relate.

Are you wondering how I didn't notice? Me too. In my defence, this particular pair of jeans is cunningly stretchy around the waist (bless you, Woolies), although it's not,heaven forbid, one of those puffed-and-gathered-at-the-waist pairs of mummy pant.

So how was I to know that I had pulled them on backwards when I stumbled out of bed this morning?

I think I might even have got away with it if my daughter had not shouted, loudly, in the Hyperama, 'MOM! X.Y.Z!' (Examine Yore Zip) when she spotted my open fly... which was open, DOWN MY BACKSIDE.

I was embarrassed for a nanosecond, but luckily I was wearing a long, rat-coloured fleece top, so I just pulled it over my rear end and hotfooted it out of there. At least, I told my daughter as we headed for the car, my jean-pant weren't inside out. (Don't ask.)

tonypark said...

Look on the bright side. At least you don't look like an Afrikaner.

meggie said...

omg. I totally love this post!
I remember, - probably around your mother's era- the slinky slimy garb, that was touted as "Liesure Wear". No one would be caught dead wearing it!
But these days, all bets are off, & who can tell the difference? In the grand scheme.... Who F*cking cares???