2006.09.20 Creature comforts

Written by David Green.

By JEFF PICKELL

Now that it has gotten chilly out once again, I can go back to focusing on the creature comforts—something that’s hard to do when we’re stuck in the middle of a 90-plus degree summer swelter, when I take to sleeping on the wood floor in the living room because it seems a little cooler than my bed.

No, mid-September is right around the time I start breaking out my pajama pants, hoodies, long john tops and bottoms, slippers, and the most important garment of all—my robe.

I relished those chilly weekend mornings in Ann Arbor; my roommate Pat and I raced to be the first up—Pat so he could defend his Cheerios, me so I could steal them.

My three roommates and I were the flock of poor, black sheep in a flock of rich Ann Arbor liberals. Our lawn was never mowed so much as it was trampled, or suffocated by leaves our landlord never raked. Despite our house, it was a beautiful neighborhood, full of beautiful people, all of whom hated us.

If all went well, I would be up by around 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning, robe-clad, bowl of Cheerios in hand, lounging on the front porch. About nine o’clock is when people started crowding the neighborhood, looking for free game day parking (we lived about five blocks from Michigan Stadium).

Ann Arbor is probably already the best people watching city in Michigan, but game days elevate the fun to a new level.

There were the hardcore, already drunken fans who probably split a twelve-pack of beer on the trip in from metro Detroit. There were the elderly men and women, neatly dressed with Michigan sweatshirts tied around their waists; SUV-driving soccer-dads, two or three kids in tow; the occasional emo kid stumbling home with a hangover.

There was me, the unbecoming but altogether non-threatening, pajamas-wearing college doofus, eating pilfered Cheerios on his front porch.

One of the small pleasures I indulge in is saying “hi” to people I don’t know. Which is easy when clad in pajamas and, especially, a robe.

Why? Because people know you aren’t trying to impress them. You just want to say “hi” because you’re friendly and it’s a friendly thing to do. Pajamas are also comfortable and physically concealing.  I don’t have to worry about looking attractive in them—I’m not trying to.

“Hi,” I’d say, waving my spoon.

“Good morning,” they’d say.

Eventually, I’d finish my Cheerios, head back inside, switch on ESPN and glower at Kirk Herbstreit. Pat would wake up.

“Jeff, if you’re going to steal my milk, could you at least put the carton back in the refrigerator?” he’d say.

“Sorry. I was gonna put some water in it to make it look like I didn’t drink any.”

I was always the first to leave from the football games. I’m not a big fan of the mob mentality, and to be honest, it’s much, much more comfortable watching the games at home.

Also, I got first crack at the shower. And I could steal some more of Pat’s food. Back in my pajamas and robe, relaxing on the couch, I almost felt sorry for my poor roommates as they filed in, looking haggard and, often, disappointed.

Hair tousled and bleary-eyed from the cold wind, Pat would step into the kitchen for a bite.

“Jeff, if you’re going to steal my frozen pizza, could you at least not leave the empty box in plain sight?” Pat would say.

“Sorry. I was gonna barf into the box to make it look like I didn’t eat it.”

I can’t remember what evening it was last week, but I remember shivering as I read through the final pages of a book.

Because I knew I would never finish the book if I stopped to find my comfort clothes, I read on. In college, I would’ve stopped right there, dug them out, and never looked at the book again. Too many distractions—good friends, many places to walk, movies to watch, cable television.

My stay in Morenci has given me the time to finish off all those half-read books. It’s almost like I’m going back and completing the intellectual journey I started in Ann Arbor.

After a few turns of the page, I flipped the book shut and scrounged out my PJs. I picked a new book from the bookshelf, and settling into the couch next to the open window, covered myself with my robe.

 I was in a warm place and it was getting cold outside.

– Sept. 20, 2006 
  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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