My mother could probably be best described as sexually conservative and not always receptive to what, in her mind, 1)toed the line of 2)decorum or good manners—even in the bedroom. The poor woman almost 3)keeled over in shock one afternoon when my sister let it slip that she slept in the nude. Mom failed to see any valid reasoning for a woman to sleep without anything but the sheets of the bed covering her body. My sister, in self-defense, informed my mother that my brother’s wife also admitted to sleeping in the nude.
“You are joking, right?” my mother asked.
“No,” my sister replied. “I’ve been sleeping that way for several months now.”
“Why on earth would anyone want to sleep naked?” Mom 4)mused out loud.
“Because I don’t find nightgowns comfortable,” my sister replied. She further defended this choice of sleeping 5)attire, or lack 6)thereof, by sharing how gowns wrapped around her while she slept and became uncomfortable. Pajamas, in her opinion, were not less prone to this twisting. The 7)bottom line was my sister felt she got a better night’s rest without having to wake up to untangle herself.
“And your husband lets you do this?” Mom mused somewhat disappointedly.
“He doesn’t mind it at all,” my sister replied honestly.
“I am sure he doesn’t,” my mother said, with a 8)tinge of sarcasm to her words. She sat silently for a few long seconds as she digested this information that not only did one of her daughters sleep in the nude but her son allowed his wife to do so as well! Worse yet, the two women apparently felt no shame as they talked about it with each other!
One could almost see the gears 9)churning in her brain while trying to think of where she went wrong as a parent, this followed by her trying to think of a way of how she could correct the situation.
“What if there is a fire?” she asked.
“What if there is a fire?” my mother repeated. “Have you thought about that? What will you say to your neighbors and the police when they see you running out of the house naked as a 10)jaybird? ‘Oh, I didn’t like it that I 11)toss and turn too much while sleeping so I just skip wearing a nightgown anymore’?”
“I have a 12)robe that I keep at the foot of the bed, Mom,” my sister replied.
“Humph, as if during a fire you’d have time to grab the robe, or not panic and forget to grab it while trying to escape the house,” my mother immediately retorted. “You seem to be forgetting this is a small town.”
“And don’t forget the firemen that will show up to put out the fire. And there you are—stark naked. You think they won’t go home and tell others they saw you naked out in your front yard?”
“I think they would understand,” my sister said. “After all, my house is on fire. It isn’t like I could go back inside and dress up for them.”
“My point exactly,” mom said. “And, just as a friendly reminder shared between me, you, and the fly on the wall, the local newspaper just may send a photographer to take a picture or two. Do you really want to risk becoming known as that woman who ran naked from her burning home that appeared on the paper’s front page? Trust me—if you slept in a gown then you would sleep a lot easier without worrying about standing naked in your front yard one night, 13)God forbid.”
My mother would not be my mother if she had 14)swept this under the rug without further comment. At Christmas-time, my sister and sister-in-law both received nightgowns. “Just in case of a fire.” In a way, I almost think my mother hoped a small fire would happen just so she could tell my sister, “See, I told you so!”
The two women took the nightgowns home. However, this is not proof that my mother converted either one back to wearing nightgowns. I think both of them figured it was just easier to accept the gifts and hope Mom would one day feel she had purchased them more than enough.
Later on, when my mother asked me if I slept in the nude, I played it smart and changed the topic. After seeing what happened to my sister and former sister-in-law, I knew the whole family would know why I started to receive nightgown sets as gifts at Christmastime. Although my mother did pick out lovely gowns—did I really want the whole family to know about my sleeping habits? Not really.