What not to wear

There was once a very irritating television show on which a pretentious couple told regular, everyday people what they weren’t supposed to wear. They basically critiqued these poor individuals, following up with a make-over. While I called the show irritating, for some reason I still watched it.

In all the time they were commanding people to change their wardrobes, I never heard them tell anyone to not wear pajama pants to work – I wish they had because I may have taken heed on a Sunday afternoon a number of years ago. Then again, I always have to learn everything the hard way.

I had the afternoon off work and decided I was going to take a nap. A real nap, pajamas and all. I put on my bright red, polka-dotted pajama pants – the nice, soft kind with big, billowy legs and soft, fragile material. I paired with them a lovely Daytona 500 T-shirt from 2001.

As I dozed off, I smiled with satisfaction. This was going to be the nap of a lifetime.

For an hour or so, I was in unconscious bliss, until the scanner exploded into dialogue.

I had a scanner in my house because of my work for the newspaper.

There were calls for more manpower, calls for ambulances, fire trucks . . .

Due to my unfortunate dedication to my employment, which included covering emergencies, I jumped back into consciousness and knew I needed to go to work immediately.

I couldn’t find my shoes so I grabbed an oversized pair of flip flops I had purchased by accident. The scanner told me I needed to go to the interchange. That’s allowable, I thought. Going onto the interstate itself was something I never did, for obvious reasons – you get in the way, there’s nowhere to park, it’s too dangerous, you could make the situation worse.

I went to the back parking lot of Wendy’s and looked to the east. I saw the flashing lights and bright red vehicles. They were just past the row of trees on the east side of the cornfield.

I decided it wasn’t that far away and I could walk it.

So I hung the 20-pound camera around my neck and started walking.

The first couple of steps, I thought, “This isn’t going to be so bad.”

I carefully walked down a row of stalks, so not to impale myself and create yet another emergency.

As I trudged along in the 50 mph Nebraska wind, with my red polka dotted pajama pants billowing in the breeze, I kept my head down and focused on the task at hand. Just one step in front of the other.

Walking straight down a row was taking too long so I decided I could make better time if I walked across the field diagonally. In my over-sized flip flops and pajama pants, I marched over the stalks. My toes were becoming caked with dirt and the barely-shoes kept slipping off. Husks began to cling to the red pantaloons. The sweat began to pour through my bedhead hair-do.

I realized the camera was weighing heavily on my back so I started carrying it alongside me. I realized law enforcement officers could probably see my bright red pants moving across the cornfield and I hoped they didn’t think the camera was a gun.

Suddenly, I didn’t think I’d make it the whole way. I turned around to see how far I’d come and my vehicle looked very far away.

I looked ahead – the accident scene still looked very far away.

However, I was past the point of no return as I was more than half-way there. When that happens, you really just have to keep going.

I walked and walked and then realized how stupid I looked. There I was, at the end of a cornfield, with a tumbleweed of hair on top and red pajama pants on the bottom. I just hoped no one would notice me, because they obviously had a lot more to deal with than how ridiculous the newspaper lady was.

When I finally reached the destination, there was one last hurdle. The giant fence had to be crossed in order to get into the interstate ditch. When you are driving along the interstate, the fence doesn’t look so tall. But when you are standing next to it and it’s almost over your head, that’s a different story.

There was my obstacle. Feet upon feet of chicken wire, followed by a nice, shiny line of sharp barbed wire on top. It might as well had been Mount Everest.

I carefully stuck one flip-flopped foot into a square of wire, hanging onto a post with one hand and onto the 20 pounds of camera in the other. Another slippery, sweaty flip-flopped foot went into another square of wire. That was repeated until I reached the barbs.

I got my feet as high as I could go and knew it was time to swing a leg over to the other side. I carefully lifted, swung and there I was straddling a five-foot high barbed wire fence about 20 years from the interstate in billowing loose-fitting red, polka-dotted pajama pants.

I held onto the post for dear life. One leg over, one leg left to go, I took a deep breath. It was time for that leftover leg to join the other, on the other side.

Tug. Tug. Tug.

“Dear God!” I screamed in my brain.

The pajama pants’ crotch was caught in the barbed wire.

No matter how hard I tugged or pulled, I was caught.

And there I was, sitting high up in the air, my red fabric flapping in the breeze as the crotch was solidly caught.

I panicked that I wouldn’t be able to remove myself and I would be utterly humiliated as the fire department would have to come save me.

“God please,” I prayed. “Please, just let me get off this fence. Please just let me get off this fence.”

As I looked to the sky for a sign from above, I noticed the dozens of motorists sitting in their cars, waiting due to the accident, on the interstate. They looked at me. I looked at them.

“Yes,” my eyes said to them. “I am wearing bright red polka-dotted pajama pants and I am straddling a barbed wire fence on a Sunday afternoon, alongside Interstate 80. What about it? What are you looking at?”

With one determined yank, I ripped with all my might while the other hand dug what was left of my fingernails into that little wooden post. I worried about falling off and to then be hanging by the crotch of my pants – that would have definitely been worse.

I suddenly heard a glorious rip, another rip, a commanding tear. I kept pulling and I finally felt my pajama pants be freed from that damn barbed wire.

When I finally reached the ground, I took pictures of people saving other people’s lives, which was a lot more important than what I was doing or the perils I had faced to get there.

When it was all said and done, I realized my vehicle was very far away, over by the balloon water tower and dozens of fast food restaurants. I had to walk back. After learning from the fence experience, I decided to just walk the ditch back. It is just nice, plush green grass, I initially reasoned. Well, that’s what you think until you are standing in it – it’s actually about three feet high and wading through it is a challenge. Especially when you are wearing over-sized flip flops.

My bare feet started to itch, thanks to my allergies to weeds. I started to wonder about the presence of poison ivy as well as how many snakes lived in that tundra. I also wondered if someone was sleeping by the trees, waiting to suddenly pop out, as I’d heard they sometimes did.

Out of breath, windblown, itchy and dizzy, I triumphantly reached my destination. The pajama bottoms were ripped and grass stains turned my white polka dots green. Hives were starting to form and the hair was more of a rat’s nest than before.

I was a hot mess when I handed over the camera to my good friend, Kerri P, who was laying out the Monday paper. Between gasps for air, I told her I had photos for her to use. I also suggested not asking questions, I’d tell her everything once I stopped hyperventilating.

I learned a lesson that Sunday afternoon – there is a reason that irritating television show told us what not to wear and I now know I should never wear red, polka-dotted pajama pants to work.

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