THERE is a bench in the middle of town where lots of conversation goes on while people sit waiting for the bus. Two executive-type codgers sharing a newspaper were sitting there recently, probably retired from a large banking firm, so I moved closer hoping to hear some useful information. ``Nightshirts are coming back,'' said the one with crisp mustache and horn-rimmed glasses, obviously a bank president.
``I didn't know they'd been away,'' said his partner, more the vice-president type.
``Are you kidding? When have you seen anyone around in a nightshirt lately?'' said Bank President.
``Where would I go,'' asked VP, ``to see people in nightshirts?''
``I mean on television. In a bedroom scene on television have you seen any nightshirts?''
``I haven't seen any pajamas, either. Or even nightgowns!''
Bank President tapped his part of the paper. ``Seriously. It says right here you'll be seeing more nightshirts from now on. They're gaining in popularity. I'm thinking of getting a couple.''
VP shook his head. ``Pajamas are more popular, I don't care what the paper says. What do they know? I'll bet pajamas sell 10 to 1 over nightshirts.''
``Harry, they take surveys on these things. Nightshirts are more popular abroad, places like England, Germany, Russia...''
``Russia?'' Harry blurted. ``Who knows how they sleep in Russia. Who sees a Russian in a nightshirt?''
``We're talking about news items. They have glasnost in Russia. It means more openness. That goes with nightshirts. Besides, they have nightshirts in red, you know.''
``Well,'' said Harry. ``Pajamas seem more normal and respectable, somehow. Even for a Russian...''
``Pajamas are a nuisance. You always have to button the dumb things and tie up the pants. Why make sleeping so complicated?''
Harry shook his head. ``You don't have to wear the bottoms. You could just wear the tops.''
Bank President gloated. ``Then that's practically a nightshirt!''
The bus came. The two climbed aboard, leaving me with an idea of what retired bankers talked about.
The woman sitting next to me on the bench leaned my way. ``You know, I've heard Burt Reynolds wears a nightshirt.''
I looked at her without comment. I'm a pajama man myself.