cheerleader slumber party pants.

I needed new pajama pants. The ones that I had were either too warm for summer or too snug for my post-college bottom. And while I had held on to the too-small pairs long after they became that way, I finally decided that pajama pants that are too tight defeat the purpose of loungewear.

Deciding that I need to buy something means adding it to the mental list of things that I specifically look for at thrift stores and yard sales. In my mind, I pictured the perfect pajama pants. They looked suspiciously like a blue pair that Josh owns which features penguins in their underwear. They're roomy, soft cotton pants, just what I wanted. Also, did I mention the penguins in their penguiny underwear? I borrowed those pants so often that it was really more like stealing them very slowly. I happen to know that Josh is also fond of these pants, and well, I suppose he does have first dibs.

But in my secondhand shopping, I could not find another pair of penguin pants, or even a similar pair of cotton pants with a pattern that I didn't hate. I found a lot of old man stripey pajama pants and a few that were very small and had suggestive words on the butt. Finally, I found a pair of satiny ones with a green pattern that were not too bad. These were sort of a compromise with the Gods of Secondhand. They were not what I wanted, but they were available for $1.39 and they would do until I found what I did want (or until winter, when I could start wearing my fleece ones). I mean, there was nothing wrong with these pants, but they were just a little bit girly. Besides being fake-satin, they had little green bows on the ankles. They were cheerleader slumber party pants, when I was hoping for something that looked as if they had been borrowed from a boyfriend. Basically, they came from the women's side of the Old Navy store, rather than the men's side.

But whatever. They're just pajama pants. I realize that most women would not have a problem with being forced to wear - gasp! - women's clothing. I just have a style, and it ain't ankle bows.

The first time I wore my new used pants, Josh immediately commented positively on them. This made me wonder if he liked women's clothing on his woman, in which case, I suspect he is disappointed by much of my wardrobe.

A few days later, Josh did the laundry, and I noticed that he hung the pants up rather than put them in the dryer. I was pretty sure the tag said "tumble dry low", being your basic mass-produced sleepwear, so I asked about it.

"If you dry them, they get little fabric pills on them. And those are really nice."

"They're not that nice. They're just Old Navy."

"Oh. Well, you're not going to want to pay for another pair of them."

"I'll pay a buck for a pair at Goodwill. They made 15 billion just like them."

This exchange made me wonder whether he thought I got them at some secret Ladies Only store. Did he think they were special pants just for wearing around him? What if I got invited to a cheerleader slumber party?

Only much later did I realize that I should have just shut my fat gob. I should have preserved his illusion that I had fancy nighty things that needed special handling. You know, delicates. And why do I have those things? Because I am delicate. Instead, I trampled on both his illusion and his sweet gesture. I also told him that I bought something that he possibly considered lingerie at Goodwill.

None of this would have happened if I had just stolen his penguin pants.


the wishbone squad.

You can't talk about my next-door neighbor Gail without talking about her dogs. I imagine that the animal shelter has her number on file - whenever they get a particularly hopeless case, they call her up and ask if she can fit in just one more. That's sort of a joke, but I found out that it's kinda true. After we got Remix, she was delighted that we had gone to the county animal shelter for our pet needs. Then she advised us to get our next dog at the tiny and underfunded Harnett County Animal Shelter, where they are closed on Wednesdays for the purpose of euthanizing every single animal that came in that week. She sometimes goes and looks on the web site, you know, just to see who won't be alive on Thursday. I'm not sure how she decides when to save one, since it clearly is not based on any sort of sane vacancy limits.

Gail is a sucker. But there are worse things you can be a sucker for than a stray dog. Her animals seem to be cared-for, and I know they're loved, so it doesn't bother me that I live next to a crazy animal lady. She also has a bunny and some chickens. And a horse, which she boards at a local stable. I have heard that there are cats as well. It's a little bit like living next to the actual pound.

We like to speculate about how many dogs she has. There are at least nine, divided into front yard dogs and back yard dogs. I can't tell if the yard division was invented for the purpose of separating big dogs from little dogs, or just so people won't be able to tell just how many of them there are. When Gail comes home from her nursing job, she lets them all out in a giant noisy burst of canine exuberance. They do a few laps in their yards just to waste energy, then there is a lot of investigative sniffing. Finally, they patrol. Passing each other in their various routes, it almost seems organized.

There are two Jack Russell Terriers which seem to lead the crowd. For that reason, I have named the whole bunch the Wishbone Squad. You can almost here a little theme song in your head when they come running up. Dun-da-da-DUN! Woe to the burglar who ever tries to take Gail's treasures. I give him five minutes before he would run screaming from the place, perhaps with a Jack Russell Terrier still clamped on his posterior.

The dogs, being dogs, bark. The worst offenders are the JRTs (front yard), a shaggy something-or-other (back yard), and a beautiful hound (back yard), which does not bark so much as bay. It's a beautiful sound, if you're inclined to appreciate hound sounds. Not all of the dogs bark, and some of them are barkier than others, but when they are provoked, the result could be classified as a ruckus. This is turn starts up the other neighborhood dogs, and pretty soon you got a ruckus in surround sound.

You know, Remix didn't bark for so long after we got her, that we we afraid that she had been de-barked (which is illegal in some areas, just like pitbulls). But no, she is just a dog of few words. When her time outside coincides with that of the Wishbone Squad, they find her to be something worth barking about. Sometimes she completely ignores them, but other times she bolts over to the fence to stand there, nose to chain-link, and never make a sound. It must drive Gail mad. We think it's awesome, just because she looks like she is calmly staring them down. But then we go and fetch her, because we don't want the other people in the neighborhood to be mad at Gail.

Gail is very self-conscious about her dogs and the noise they make. Every time I talk to her, the first things she does is to she apologize for them. Someday, I hope that she will learn to believe me when I say that I really don't mind. Apparently there is tension between her and the guy that lives on her other side. Last night, Remix and I walked with her and one of hers (a stubby-legged little mutt that was sweet in every way), and she vented to me about what a jerk that guy is. I am sympathetic to her, but I would have been surprised if someone didn't complain. When I say that Gail is a crazy animal lady, I mean that in the nicest way possible, not as a slur, but as a description which is objectively true. But I recognize that a lot of people wouldn't feel that way, particularly if they lived next door.

I wonder if Gail and her motley mutts wouldn't be happier if she bought a chunk of land outside of town with more room to run and fewer neighbors. Of course, if Gail had more room, she'd probably just get more dogs. Then she might be happier still.