A QUESTIONAIRRE REGARDING THE PHENOMENON OF THE SNUGGIE, THE BLANKET WITH SLEEVES, FOR TESTING YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF AMERICAN HOME ECONOMICS AND YOUR OWN PERSONAL DESIRES, WRITTEN IN THE STYLE OF WALTER PERCY’S LOST IN THE COSMOS.
by Stephanie S. Gehring
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1. Do you want a Snuggie?
a. I already have two, along with two free book lights. My Weimaraner wears the second Snuggie, and I keep one of the book lights in the car for when I need to retouch my makeup while driving at night.
b. When the Snuggie commercial comes on, I scream and hide under the coffee table.
c. Who are you? Why are you asking? Are they paying you?
2. Why do the people who do not own Snuggies get so hung up over the blanket’s success?
a. Jealousy: I, too, could have been rich.
b. Jealousy: I, too, could own a Snuggie if I hadn’t committed myself to hating them.
3. Assuming an average per-household purchase of two Snuggies (since, in the current commercial, the deal is for two, with two free book lights, for just $19.95 [plus a mere $15.90 for processing and handling]), and allowing for the occasional family groups who live in large renovated farmhouses and who buy the blanket with sleeves in bulk because they wear nothing else, why have over one and a half million American households purchased one or more Snuggies?
a. Many Americans were not hugged enough by their parents; they use Snuggies as a substitute for parental affection.
b. The commercials use subliminal images illegally flashed between frames, showing stripteases (male and female) involving Snuggies; the guillotining, lynching, or public derision of non-Snuggie-wearers by crowds in black Snuggies; and other scenes. Between-frame flashes are tailored to viewing areas based on complex demographic research: in New Haven, the crowd points and falls over laughing at a non-Snuggie-wearer reading aloud from a long manuscript; in Pittsburgh, a team of football players in black short-sleeved Snuggies with yellow lettering stop and stare in disgust at a non-Snuggied receiver who butterfingers an easy, game-winning pass; and in Los Angeles a minor actress shows up to the Oscars in a fitted white tuxedo only to find that fashion has moved on to cutaway Snuggies worn with layered bellybutton-length gold chains.
c. The commercials can be used for drinking games. The drinking games are more fun if everyone is wearing Snuggies.
d. Everything is more fun when you’re high.
e. There comes a time when disparate market forces combine into a sweeping trend that changes all aspects of American experience—a tipping point: It is winter. Obama won the election. There’s an economic crisis on. Heat costs more than Snuggies. The commercials are on YouTube. YouTube is a cheap form of entertainment. The inauguration (where both red and blue Snuggies, equally cheap, were sighted) has picked up Snuggies and propelled them to a new level of popularity.
f. Thomas Merton received public acclaim for his unbridled desire to become a Trappist monk. His autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, swept the country because, though we won’t admit it, all Americans have a deeply repressed desire to be a monk or a nun. Buying a Snuggie is easier than dealing with these feelings. Also, it doesn’t involve moving. Or obeying an abbot.
g. We don’t want monastic life; we want small, portable cults, connected to a parent cult through televised messages. If picking one of the three available colors (burgundy, royal blue, and sage green) for your domestic group is not individualized enough, Snuggies can be bleached and tie-dyed.
h. Modern life works steadily against the natural biological rhythms of human bodies. Evolutionary progress is hampered in technologized countries because natural selection is severely reduced: the maladapted don’t die off as well. Even if evolutionary progress weren’t hampered, industrialization changes human life too quickly for natural selection to keep up. The case in question illustrates the point: our bodies are programmed to warm and cool in a circadian cycle, reaching their lowest temperatures when, before electricity, it was most advantageous to be asleep inside a well-protected enclosure, since being out and about at night was likely to get you eaten by a nocturnal predator. Thus, humans who stay up late at night to read great literature are evolutionarily disadvantaged: as their bodies cool, they’re likely to feel chilled. The Snuggie not only counteracts circadian cooling but, because it envelopes the body, also meets the primal need for nighttime protection.
i. Look, you’re making this all too complicated. They’re warm. When you get up for more beer, you don’t have to leave your blanket. When you sit down, you don’t have to cover yourself back up.
j. The revolution has been building; the people were bound to rise against their oppressors eventually. Proletarians of the world, unite!
k. Americans who don’t like horror movies wish they liked horror movies, and sense deeply an internal failure: how much of a coward is a person who can’t separate reality and filmic image enough to see the humor in zombies? Snuggies are creepy, but on TV they’re always in well-lit rooms, no one gets stabbed (except, in Detroit, in the flashes between frames), and the commercials are short. For the chicken-hearted, Snuggie commercials provide precisely that mix of squeamy spine-chill and personal distance/safety.