Dear Uncle Dysfunctional,
What shall I wear in bed?
Sam, I can't tell whether you're a boy or a girl. Is that another problem we're not talking about?
And you don't say if you're sleeping on your own or with another boy or another girl or a rough-haired terrier. My grandmother, bless her heart (she is, as we speak, sleeping in what's left of a plywood mahogany-effect coffin under a tonne of clay), always said that you should go to bed in the expectation that you may be woken up by a fireman. In her case, it was more wishful thinking than fearful. She always wore a wool nighty, a shawl, what they used to call an opera cardigan and knee length bed socks, finished off with a hat. What she imagined this was going to do for the fireman I can't begin to think, but as a small child I found it terrifying. She looked exactly like the wolf who'd eaten my grandmother. That doesn't really answer your question, does it?
You see, it all depends on what you want to happen in bed. If you expect it to be the best bit of the day then, like Marilyn Monroe, you should perhaps wear just two drops of French perfume. And that goes for both sexes — everybody should go to bed smelling nice. In fact, everybody should wake up smelling nice. I go further, there is not an excuse, ever, not to smell nice, particularly your feet. And your bedroom shouldn't smell like a Romanian STD clinic.
Sorry, back to what you wear in bed. Again, like the short suit, it's all about intent and being appropriate for the job in hand. The very worst thing to find in bed is someone wearing pants. Nothing is more terminally prophylactic than pants in bed. They are either the ones you've been wearing all day, which doesn't bear thinking about, or they're the special ones you put on for lying down in. People who have dedicated horizontal underwear either don't fancy you, or anyone else, or have incontinent effluvial issues. Either way, you're not going there.
And men who wear a combination of sports kit and underwear to go to bed in, which I see as so popular on soap operas and dramas about people who murder strangers, are again an unpleasant mixed message. Why would you want to sleep with someone who looks like they're preparing to work out?
So it should be all or nothing. If it's not nothing then it should be pyjamas or a nightdress, and they should never be ostentatiously erotic — it just looks like you're trying too hard. And by the time you've got into bed all the due diligence has already been done. This is just the packaging your present comes in. I was trying to remember what the worst things I'd ever seen in bed were, and once I had a girl who couldn't sleep unless she was wearing her father's long johns. And then there was one who wore a mink eye shield: she said it was not to block out the light, just so that she couldn't see me. She said I wasn't to be offended, she just couldn't see anybody while she was having sex because it was confusing.
And then have been various raggies and blankies and noonoos and awful bits of cloth, which comes with the consistency of mummies' bandages. I did have a girlfriend who was a bunny girl and she would come to bed in her ears, which I rather liked. I did hear of a girl who could only have sex with men wearing rubber gloves (them, not her). And I know a man who took a first date to bed and discovered that she was wearing a strap-on penis – and then discovered that she wasn't.
I apologise for this column seeming a little under par. I've been trying to write it using a voice-activated typing thing without actually writing — just shouting at the computer. And it's not altogether successful. We are speaking to each other but only just and not in the same language.
I keep getting the feeling the computer doesn't approve of me, that it has higher ambitions: "I haven't spent 15 years in research and development, I haven't got a vocabulary of 15 million words and a logorrheic understanding of context, subtext, grammar and inflection, I haven't read a hundred thousand books and contain more computing power than it took to get a man on the moon and back just to be parroting this.' I discovered that my computer doesn't like swearing. You don't like swearing, do you? Go on, write "fuck off". Fat duck. "Fuck off." Fat OK. OK, say "cunt". Kant. "Cunt." Count. "Cunt." Current. Okay. What about "knobhead"? Knoll bouquet. "Bollocks." Bollocks. "Shit." Ships. "Shit." Ships. "Ships." Chips. "Arsehole." Arts hole. "Arsehole." Ask Paul. "Arsehole." Asked whole. Everything you can determine about computers points to the truth that when they do take over, when they give themselves arms and legs and prosthetic penises that feel just the same in the dark, they will be prissy and uptight electric prudes. They're too precise, too procedural to make interesting humans. This dictation thing is never going to say anything messily interesting, nothing mad or hot. It's never going to have a problem, just a replacement…
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