Pajama Man and Toilet Swiffer Woman: A Guide to Living

I was at the local fancy produce market one afternoon, pretending to be fancy knowing all the while that I grew up strictly on canned vegetables that were cranked up to a boil, when a man wearing a dirty t-shirt, plaid flannel pajama pants, and bedroom slippers walked past me on his way to the herbs.  You know, like it was a normal thing he was doing:  inspecting the sage, rosemary, and thyme in his jam-jams.

A grown man.  In public.  In pajamas.

It reminded me of a certain woman who works on the same floor as me at my conservative office building.  A certain woman who wears big, fuzzy bedroom slippers from her office all the way down the shared corridor and into the public restroom.

If you check under the stall to see if one’s available, you’ll often see her big, fuzzy bedroom slippers right there, two inches from the public toilet.

I mean, you have to hand it to her.  This is such a great way to pick up all of the stuff that’s lurking on a public restroom floor and track it everywhere afterwards like the freaking E-Coli-ster Bunny.  It’s like a one-stop-shop for all your bacteria needs!

I’ve taken to calling her “Toilet Swiffer Woman”.  If you need to call the CDC on her and they ask for a description, just say that she’s a brunette, about 5’6″, 130 pounds, and has public toilet germs crawling all over her fuzzy-wuzzies.

To be fair, I’m sure those slippers probably come in real handy for when you need to do lab experiments on the fly at your desk and don’t have a bucket of deadly pathogens nearby.  Just take off your Toilet Swiffer slippers and give ‘em a shake over that petri dish and finally get to the bottom of that Cholera problem!  Easy peasy!

Which reminds me.  If we’re talking about describing something that’s easy, it’s easier to just say the word “easy”.  You can feel free to leave off the “peasy”.

And I’ll tell you what you can definitely leave off:  “Lemon squeezy”.

I swear to Maude the next time I hear someone say, “Easy peasy lemon squeezy!” I will not be held responsible for my actions.  JUST SAY “EASY”.

I tried to give Toilet Swiffer Woman the benefit of the doubt the first time I saw her – maybe she was just breaking in a new pair of terrible high heels and her feet were all sliced up or something.  At least some attempt at a reason.


She wears those Toilet Swiffer slippers every single day – and I saw her regular shoes one day when she was leaving the building and they were ADORABLE fancy designer leopard-print ballet flats.  They were so cute I wanted to knock her down in the parking lot and steal them off her feet, until I remembered that she spends most of the day ankle-deep in fuzzy poop-germ incubators.

Pajama Man and Toilet Swiffer Woman are just a small sampling of the much larger problem at hand here.  I can’t tell you how many people I see out in daily life wearing pajamas and bedroom slippers in public, and I’m here to tell you something about it.

I’m tired of this hoozle-dizzle, people.

Put on some real clothes.

Your public pajamas are a far too visible sign that the fabric of society is unraveling.  Like I need a reminder!  And those pajamas are probably filthy, too, because who the hell washes pajamas every time they wear them?  Maniacs?!  I once wore a Nirvana tour shirt as a pajama top for two months straight without washing it, until my skin oils actually ate through the fabric like moths.  I will out-lazy and out-filth you in private any day of the week, so don’t even try me.

I don’t care if you’re “But I’m cooooomfortable!!!” in your pajamas.  I own plenty of articles of clothing that are really, super soft and comfortable, that are also not actual pajamas.

I’m not saying go put on a suit.  I’m not advocating for the reintroduction of hoop skirts and steel-boned corsets.  Pinchy-waistbands can 100% go eat a wiener, as can those pointy-toed, narrow shoes that feel like actual torture devices.  By all means.  Be comfortable.  Just put on something that’s not pajamas if you’re going to engage in daily public life.

We live in a society, you bedtime fashion derelict.  Get it together.

And don’t even get me started on people who take their shoes off on an airplane and then put their BARE FEET on things.  I was on a plane last year and turned around to find the woman behind me had taken off her shoes and wrapped her toes around my armrest like the paw on a clawfoot tub and it took everything I had to not ask the pilot to re-route us directly into the sun.

Steel Maggie-nolias

I threw away my old Doc Martens combat boots after 27 years of ownership.  As I pitched them into the trash and they clunked towards the bottom of the can, they yelled, “Do they have a steel toooooooooooooooe?!” on their way down, because after so many years of excellent service, this was unfortunately the memory I associated most with them.  Because teenage boys.

Oh!  Do tell, Myrtle!

I remember the day I got my Doc Martens in 1992.  Grunge was now all the rage, and no teenage grunge queen was complete without a pair of Doc Martens to go with her sundress, tights, and flannel shirt.  They were all I wanted in life that year, and I begged my mother to buy them for me.

Fine, these flowers aren’t magnolias, but spoiler alert, those are Doc Martens on my 16-year old feet.  And a cigarette in my hand, but that’s neither here nor there.

Things had finally started to turn around in our household, our roof had been fixed up after Hurricane Andrew (thanks to insurance) and Mom had landed a better-paying job.  Plus, it was just me and her left in the house since my sisters had both moved out.  We were no longer destitute and there was even a little left over for spending.

I told her I needed a new pair of shoes, so we hit the mall.  Just a few years before, besides my yearly pair of $15 sneakers from Fayva the discount shoe store, my two sisters and I shared a single pair of black flats that we fought over mercilessly.

Three teenage girls, one pair of dress shoes, you can imagine the carnage.  You could make ten full wigs out of the amount of hair we pulled out of each other’s heads over those black flats.

As Mom and I stood in the shoe store, she flipped the Doc Martens boot over to see the price tag and said, “Ha!  $120?!!  Not in your wildest dreams, kid!”

She started to walk away, so I had to jump on her to present my proposition.

“Okay, okay, I know this seems nuts, but just listen to me!  If you buy me these boots, I promise I will wear them every single day for the rest of high school.  For two years!”

She said, “You have almost another two years of high school, and you’re telling me, you’re promising me, that you will wear these stupid, ugly things every day?  EVERY day?”

I nodded my head like a maniac, “Yes!  I promise!  Every single day!”

The next day, I swaggered into school in my black sundress, red plaid tights, and my brand-new Doc Martens.  I felt like the coolest mofo on the planet – until the first teenage boy saw me.

“Nice Docs,” he said, pursing his lips and folding his arms.  “I bet you got them at the mall.  Do they have a steel toe?”

(Like he got his Doc Martens trying to fight the Krauts back from the border of Poland in World War II.)

I looked down and said, “No?  Why would I need a steel toe?”

He laughed, “Heh.  Well, mine have a steel toe, so…”

Soooooo…what?  What the hell did I care if his OR my Doc Martens had a steel toe?

“I’m just saying only poseurs wear Docs that don’t have a steel toe.”

He walked away, still laughing.

I had never spoken to this guy in my life, and we didn’t even know each other’s names – but he felt compelled to walk up and insult me.

Were we doing construction work there in the 11th grade, where steel-toed boots would be the only thing standing between me and a pile of broken toes?

As it would turn out, in the two years that I wore my Doc Martens to school EVERY DAY JUST LIKE I’D PROMISED, this was an unsolicited question I was asked by teenage boys on a weekly basis.  I got so tired of having the steel toe conversation, I considered just writing, “No Steel Toe” across the top of one boot in white-out and “Poseur” on top of the other to save myself the time and aggravation.

Look who’s still wearing those Doc Martens a year later at 17!  Never mind the beer, it’s neither here nor there.

It’s so funny, too, looking back on the whole thing and realizing what stupid ass hats those guys were.  My shoes bothered them so much that they felt the need to barge up to me, a stranger, to interrogate me about them and then try to make me feel like they were better than me?

I don’t think I’m better than anyone except Melissa’s mom, and everybody knows that.

They acted like they had somehow “earned” their combat boots as teenage boys and I was merely trying to game their system.  Like they were wearing them for actual combat when I was just wearing them for fashion, even though it was the 90s and we were all just wearing them for fashion.

18 years old!  Still wearing those Docs!  I was SO HIGH IN THIS PICTURE, but that’s neither here nor there.

And what are we even talking about here?  Did they think I wasn’t cool enough to be into grunge?  Is there even such a thing as a person who isn’t cool enough to be into grunge?

I present this photograph of Jeff Ament and Mike McCready from Pearl Jam, as Exhibits A through Z in my case:

These two look like what would happen if Gallagher had sex with a dreamcatcher on top of a deflated beach ball in the middle of a Spencer Gifts in Omaha.

If you’re reading this and realize you were one of these steel-toe jerks back in the day, I want to impress upon you how obnoxious I thought you were then, and still think you are today.

I hope your closet is filled with nothing but ill-fitting, moose-knuckle khakis, GREG.

I hope you have a neverending hangnail that catches on your pants every time you put your hand in your pocket, JASON.

I hope it burns just a little every time you stop peeing, like you had to cut the stream short even though you didn’t actually cut the stream short, MATT.

I hope you have the short stream burn, Matt.

The short.



Years later, I got a job at that same shoe store so I could get the employee discount on further Doc Martens purchases, but I had to quit after my first day because of herpes.

Stay tuned for that one next week.

19 years old.  First office job and wearing Doc Martens at the reception desk.  Also sleeping on the job while clutching a stuffed animal, but that’s neither here nor there.