Last week was eventful in my little world.
I have this nightshirt that I love. It’s a loose white t-shirt, thin, soft, and comfortably cool in hot weather. Functionally, it’s great for summer, but it’s designed around a Christmas theme, which doesn’t make sense in the northern hemisphere.
Callaghan hates the nightshirt… not because of its Christmas theme, but because of its overall unfortunate look. I can see where he’s coming from. The shirt features the face of a pug. The masterminds behind the nightshirt made the pug look unsightly with a “so ugly it’s cute” kind of intention. The pug is wearing a festive red Santa hat, which is how you know it’s a Christmas nightshirt (for someone in Australia, that is, since it’s thin, cool, and ideal in hot weather). There are gold Christmas lights in the background, and below the pug’s portrait, it says #SELFIE in glittery gold paint. The pug is grimacing, presumably because he’s smiling for his picture.
Hilarious, right? Pugs are adorable. A pug in a Santa hat taking a selfie at Christmas is adorable. Pugs were in vogue when I bought the nightshirt, and the word “selfie” had probably just been invented, and it was December, so all three of those things on a summery nightshirt had to be a triple win.
Callaghan maintains that it’s the ugliest and most ridiculous nightshirt in the history of nightshirts.
Really, I can’t blame him. I don’t know how much I’d appreciate getting into bed with a lover wearing that shirt, either. Its pug portrait fails to make sense. It attempts to convey a message, but the message doesn’t match the picture. It strives for an aesthetic, but it doesn’t achieve it. It’s trying to be hip, but the pug isn’t holding a PBR. Overreaching for novelty, the nightshirt’s very ambitions, however admirable, are its downfall. The nightshirt is having an identity crisis caught in a gold-glittered tangle of WTF. The nightshirt might even work as birth control.
Despite its failings, I loved that nightshirt. Then I lost it. It just vanished one day, going into the laundry, but not coming out, like so many socks. It wasn’t the first beloved article of clothing I’d lost, but the disappearance of this particular one made me suspicious.
“You took it,” I accused Callaghan. “You think it’s ugly and you hate it so you stole it.”
“What are you talking about.”
“My pug. You hate when I wear it to bed, so you took it!”
“What did you do with it? Are you sure you didn’t accidentally… misplace it?”
When the conversation goes from English to French, it’s getting serious.
I have to believe him, because marriage is about trust and giving your partner the benefit of the doubt, I told myself.
Going with the assumption that Callaghan didn’t take the pug, I tried to fathom what might have become of it. Of course, I imagined the worst. The pug fell into the hands of Russian mobsters. The pug got eaten by a shark (in Kansas). The pug is being held hostage in a joystick sweatshop in Bangladesh. The pug is smoking weed in the desert. I wondered if I was going to start receiving photographs of the pug in random far-off places, wearing hats other than the Santa hat.
It turned out that the pug had gotten separated from the laundry as it was being dumped into the washing machine. It had been wedged between the washer and the wall all this time.
I found it last week when I was frantically trying to rescue a large, beautiful squirrel who’d been chased into the laundry room by an outdoor cat (who adopted us, but we’re not supposed to admit to that, so she’s ours, but only unofficially, and we named her “Cita” as in Mamacita, but you didn’t hear any of this from me). I’ve lived in the Valley for 25 years and I didn’t even know that there were squirrels here until I found this one burrowing into the folds of my pug nightshirt.
I was elated to have found the pug, but looking at it through fresh eyes that hadn’t seen it in months, I couldn’t remember why I’d been so enamored with it. Its charm had been replaced by actuality. The whole picture of the pug was something nonsensical that confused me. The chaos of it canceled out its comfort value. In fact, it wasn’t even as comfortable as it used to be… it had pilled, and the pilling made the thin fabric more textured than soft. (Making things more disconcerting was the fact that I love actual pugs and find all of them to be adorable.)
So I don’t wear the pug nightshirt anymore. It’s not as comfortable as it used to be, and Callaghan still hates it. I’ve given it up. I’ve tucked it into a drawer and walked away from it. I just threaten to wear it at opportune times.