In Defense of the Passion Killer.

Onesies holding hands and waving on MM's washing line.

Onesies holding hands and waving on MM’s washing line.

We love to hate them. We berate them and revile them. Yet we’ve all got one hiding in the wardrobe somewhere – that one item of leisure-/under-/sleepwear that makes our other half go spare. Yes, today we’re going to talk about passion killers, which are still very much alive and kicking lingerie-clad butt.

Those of you who have been following the blog for a while know that MM has kept one foot firmly anchored in her youth, so you will not be surprised to learn that my wardrobe also harbours a grown-up reminder of my childhood: my lovely, warm, terry towelling onesie – aka union suit, sleep suit or footed pyjamas.

My onesie and I go together like ramma lamma lamma a ding gadi dinga dong, like ketchup and chips, like Shrek and Fiona… or in PF’s eyes, like salmonella poisoning and sushi. The poor man rolls his eyes every time as he realises that he has drawn the short strawer in the drawer draws.  When he claps eyes on it, his face falls – imagine Brigitte Bardot greeted with a pair of mink-lined suede slippers and a plateful of coq au vin on her arrival home.

On chilly winter nights, I sometimes wriggle it on. I instantaneously become a tellytubby – just add a pair of 1980s wobbly antennae, and I’d be taken on by the BBC in a flash. It is a real onesie complete with feet, meaning that I can lope around the house like the BFG without getting cold tootsies.

Robert negotiated with Gladys, but to no avail: she’d only consider giving up on the onesie if he threw that stinking pipe away. (Photo credit: x-ray delta one)

Here are its advantages:

  •  It is warm and comfy, and reminiscent of a cosy, reassuring childhood.
  • No draughts get in, unlike skimpy, feminine night attire with little spaghetti straps (which is very pretty, but about as heat-efficient as dressing a giraffe in a hand towel).
  • The poppers down the front are the ideal protection from the dreaded handus mannus, a common predatory species that roams at night, preying on innocent women as they sleep.

It also has disadvantages:

  •  It gets PF mad and he sulks.
  • It doesn’t have a hood to keep the cold out of my ears.
  •  It was designed by a man for a man, so the lack of strategically placed poppers is the cause of long-winded negotiations with Mr B, aka my bladder, in the middle of the night. Like having to decide against drinking before you drive, an uninterrupted night’s sleep in a onesie entails the sacrifice of any ritual bedtime bucket of herbal tea/bottle of wine (delete as necessary).

At this point in proceedings I can already hear some readers of this blog howling in protest and clamouring their support for the long-suffering PF. I would argue that the alternative to sleeping in the same bed as a wife masquerading as Yogi Bear is the sobering prospect of ice-cold female feet on male shins. Things could be worse, too: I have yet to acquire the matching bed socks, fluffy slippers, horn-rimmed specs, rollers and hairnet. And if I really wanted to be mean, I could add an avocado facemask and two slices of cucumber for good measure.

I freely admit that a onesie is not the most appealing attire. But let’s face it, “attractive” always seems to go hand in hand with “uncomfortable”. So it is par for the course that comfortable clothes are about as pleasing to the male eye as King Kong modelling the latest line in G-strings from Victoria’s Secrets. I have concluded that comfort and attractiveness are fatally and diametrically opposed, which kind of links up with the saying that we have to suffer to be beautiful.


Maurice had complained about his wife’s fluffy bedsocks for the last time. (Photo credit: photos.juliechen)

Lastly, onesies make for safe sleep, particularly when combined with their household textile alter ego, the flannel sheet. Confused? Let’s extrapolate. I once spent a night in a friend’s guest room. The waterbed had been kitted out with delicate satin sheets -irrefutably the ultimate in sosphisticated kip equipment. I was shortly to discover that my host had pushed the boat out in more ways than one – every time I rolled over I was tossed in three-foot troughs. Forget the Moody Blues: the hair-raising night in white satin that ensued was along the lines of Géricault’s “Raft of the Medusa“, but solo and dressed in M&S satin pj’s. I slid across the deck like a walrus launched across an ice-hockey field, grasping desperately for a grip on something as the night lit up with the spectacular storm of static electricity.

Now compare this with the honest simplicity of a onesie and flannel sheets. The flannel locks tight with the onesie, the heat stays in the bed, and hey presto: velcro effect. Welcome to the wonderful world of double-sided flannel-tape. You can sleep, toasty warm, in absolute security.

In conclusion… we love to hate the passion killer, but it’s not said its last word just yet. Comfort, nostalgia, warmth, safety. I rest my case. Embrace the passion killer, my friends.

For those who want more of almost the same, dig in the MM’s archives for the underwear drawer conundrum, entitled “Slingshots and Parachutes”, and a description of handus mannus in the highly scientific study, “Nesting and migration in the lesser spotted boob”.

From slingshots to parachutes.

Untimely reminders that I am ageing sometimes appear in the most unexpected situations. A perfect example was the experience that hit me in the teeth last summer. On my way up the stairs with the laundry basket, a chuckling Bigfoot overtook me at high speed. He and his brother were pelting round the house commando-style, hiding behind walls and hunting each other down like elite army snipers.

English: Wooden slingshot with rubber made in ...

I was happy to see them playing together. As they fired pellets of paper at each other, I smiled and found it reassuring that they still knew how to play together. Really play. You know, games that don’t involve a T.V or a computer. They were still capable of using their imaginations to create their own game. As I took my laundry basket into the bedroom and started putting away the clean clothing, I wondered when I had bought them the slingshots they appeared to be using. They didn’t seem to be overly efficient, with the paper pellets dropping to the ground close to my aspiring soldiers.  Strangely enough, I didn’t remember having purchased any.  I shrugged my shoulders. Turning to put away the last dregs of the basket, I was surprised to discover my underwear drawer open and hanging askew, its innards spewing out into the open in a colourful cascade of cotton, silk, and lace.  I didn’t remember having left it in such a sorry state that morning…..

I stopped dead in my tracks, clutching P.F’s boxer shorts. The neurones fired up, the synapses connected. I peered around the door frame with a tightening stomach and was greeted by Rugby-boy bombing down the corridor. Number two son screeched to a breathless halt in front of me. His eyes sparkled mischievously, and he sported a huge grin from ear to ear. “Mum, these make brilliant slingshots! Can I keep it, please?”

I gaped at the high precision weapon he had been using for lethal combat all afternoon: a bog-standard Marks & Sparks  G-string. No frills, no fuss.  It suddenly gave a whole new meaning to “make love, not war”.

A ball of school paper flew through the doorway, and Bigfoot lumbered in. He was ready to launch the next missile, jammed in the gusset of a formerly favourite pair of undies whilst the remaining elastic creaked dangerously.  “Come on, Mum, you’re too old for that kind of underwear now, and it’s not as if it fits you any more”, he jibed before firing at me and chasing his brother back down the corridor.

He was right. Trying to wear them now would be like attempting to fit a newborn’s hair-band around a rhino’s behind, and would entail running the risk of looking like the saucisson on sale at the local market, bulging out of tightly-knotted string as it dangles over the counter.  I sadly acquiesced that I am now more parachute than slingshot, and that comfort had finally taken over from the temptation to be a hot-to-trot domestic goddess. But shorties are feminine too, son of mine. So there.

Hippo in a tutu.

For my three children aged  9, 12 and 15, my dress sense has always been a cause for concern. There seems to be a very fine line between unacceptably middle-aged clothing, and being considered a “cougar» by your offspring. Finding the right balance can be a delicate process.

As the sun poked its head round the clouds yesterday, I had a sudden irresistible urge to « slip into something more comfortable ». I had to admit that the manky black leggings, desert boots and shapeless cotton top that I had put on that morning were somewhat out of synch with the weather outside.

I saved my latest scientific editing efforts on my pooter, and scooted enthusiastically up the staircase. Rummaging in the wardrobe, I spotted the 1960’s dress I love wearing in hot weather. I wriggled it on and squinted at the mirror. Although I was more Kitkat- than cat-walk material, I was satisfied with the result. A pair of strappy heels later, I felt much more feminine, and swung down the stairs into the living room.

« Hey, kiddo, what do you think of your mum dressed as a girl for a change? » I proudly asked.

Number two son stared at me blankly, and peeled his headphones off his ears, embarassed. « Ummm….. I wouldn’t bend down in that dress if I were you », he muttered.

I looked down, wondering whether some kind of thermal time warp had shrunk the dress by 10 cm between the bedroom and the ground floor. The hem was still politely positioned two inches above my kneecaps. I looked back at my 12-year-old, half expecting to see him wearing a Lawrence of Arabia head dress, a list of forbidden clothing for females in one hand and a copy of « the beginner’s guide to stoning your hareem» in the other, but he had already snuggled back into the couch and was typing away on his father’s laptop.

At the school entrance at 5pm, I was reassured to see that I was not the only mother who had dared to bare. Other knees had come out for sun and fresh air: matriarchs sported shorts, miniskirts and dresses, pepping up their look with sunglasses and peep-toe shoes. I could feel the gentle warmth of the sun on my skin, and smiled to myself.

My nine-year-old tripped delicately out of the playground, flicking her long blond poney-tail as she said goodbye to her girlfriends. She is the kind of girl who could drag on a hessian potato sack and still steal the show, and I hope she will always remain that way. She planted a delicate kiss on my cheek, then wrinkled her nose daintily and said « Urr, don’t you think your dress is a bit short? ».

« No, not at all! My legs are just too long », I retaliated, feeling like a petulant teenager who had been caught in her mother’s Louboutin heels. She tilted her head sideways and looked at me sternly, pursing her lips.

My eyes saught salvation within the gaggle of mothers organising their battalion of pushchairs and schoolbags. «Look at that mummy over there, her skirt’s much shorter than mine! » I pointed out triumphantly.  It was indeed : it was so short it no longer qualified as a skirt, but as a curtain pelmet. «Just imagine if I dressed like that!».

I don’t know who coined the phrase « Out of the mouth of infants and babes » (I suspect it’s biblical), but I bet he fell off my shoulder laughing at my daughter’s next comment. The one that slaps you in the face, hits home and wallops your ego into the middle of next week. She looked at me with impatience, a hiss of exasperation escaping from her lips. Her china blue eyes locked onto mine, and she said: « But mum, she can, she must be 30! You’re 43 : women your age don’t wear miniskirts ! »

Blam. As we returned home, I glumly imagined life in a burka. My grasp of the fashion world had always been tenuous; if I listened to my kids, my choice of clothing would henceforth be limited to grandma’s old curtains or an army camouflage tent. In their eyes, I had crossed the great age divide, and was now in the no-woman’s land where you transform from « mum in a mini » to « hippo in a tutu ».

I realised that whilst my children demand more and more freedom to choose what they wear, they are unbelievably conservative about the way their parents should appear. This is reassuring in a way. After all, I’d be concerned if they asked me to get tattoos and a ring in my belly button: for them, visual proof of the generation gap is necessary to show that we’re the grown-ups.

When I casually asked number two son today how he would like me to be dressed, he produced a gallic shrug and said « Well, as usual : a t-shirt, a pair of jeans and a pair of Converse lace-ups ». In other words, the mum image he’s most comfortable with: the real me. I can deal with that.  Time to become a closet dress-wearer, I guess…..

Anyone else out there had similar experiences with their kids ?