Ballad of the Night Wolf: How I Became a Robe Guy
All it took was a kiss from a robe
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My sons started it. Some undetermined time ago, my wife bought them both fleece robes: one off Poshmark for the 11-year-old, one from Marshalls for the seven-year-old. Both boys shower at night and then robe it up like the single playboys they are. They are highly snuggle-able in these robes. Sometimes the younger one will go to bed with his still on, risking heatstroke all in the name of supreme comfort. I love nuzzling against these two when they’re all swaddled up in the fleecy goodness. So it was only natural for me, at some point, to think to myself, Hey, why don’t I have one of these things?
I was never a robe guy before this. I didn’t wear them as a kid, or in high school, or in college. It’s not like I hated them. I was not a robephobe. But all the robes available to me at the time were terry cloth, bathrobes. And I was young and stupid enough to assume that you wore them directly after showering. Hence, the rare times I wore one, it would soak up the 50 pounds of water cascading down my body and begin incubating pneumococcal virus spores in an instant. I was doing robes wrong.
It was time to change that and become a proper robe guy. I declared my intentions to the world. And by the world, I mean Twitter:
I told my wife, and she rolled her eyes. I work from home, wearing warm-up pants and a hoodie all day long. Now I was proposing a step down in formality from that getup. But she knew I wasn’t to be deterred. So one night, while she was out at a thrift store, she found a gray fleece robe for seven bucks and brought it back. It was made in China. The label read “DASHING Fine Gifts.” Oh, it was dashing all right.
“Look what I got you.”
“Ooooooooooh, gimme gimme gimme!”
“I think this might be a woman’s robe.”
I didn’t care. I put it on right away. It was missing the belt. You run that risk when you go thrift shopping. To complete my ensemble, I went up to my daughter’s bathroom and stole a red terry-cloth belt from a robe she never used. A shitty match, but whatever. She’s 13, so the belt was just long enough to accommodate my dad mass. I tied it tight around my stomach, like an old man cinching his belt high up on his potbelly.
“How’s it look?” I asked my wife.
Too late! I was a robe guy now. I quickly smoked some dope and sat in my recliner, basking in the cuddly goodness. I looked like I was in hospice. It was awesome.
But was it perfect? Reader, it was not. I knew, implicitly, that this was merely the start of my career as an official robe guy. I wanted one that was even softer, homier, fleecier. It also wouldn’t hurt to find one that looked better than the Dashing model. Classier, like it did not come from Goodwill. I hunted around on Amazon and found a John Christian model in tartan—so elegant!—and added it to the cart. My wife saw it in there, along with the $40 price tag, and was aghast.
“That much? Come on.”
I took it out of the cart, but my robe mania ceased to abate. Someone on Twitter told me that L.L.Bean made a hooded one with a rugby-jersey-like exterior and a fleece lining that was perfect. I knew I had to have it and logged on to the site. But it was all sold out. Every color. Every size.
I called the L.L.Bean headquarters and asked if there were any in the back. (I am 43 years old. I believe every place has whatever I need somewhere in the back.) “Those may not restock until August,” the operator told me. Fucking August? But I’m cold now! I refused to accept defeat. I rechecked the site every day, all while snug in my fallback Dashing robe. A week later, presto: Bean suddenly had one available in my size. The only color available was gray, and it didn’t offer free shipping, but I didn’t give a crap. I swooped in and bought it right away. The total tab was over $100. I did not tell my wife this. Instead, I giddily waited for my package to arrive, thinking, When this robe comes, my life will be complete. I could even die if I wanted to!
Finally, the robe showed up at my doorstep. I tore into the box, carefully opened the plastic packaging, and beheld my new baby. Then I tried it on and…
It was too heavy. I know that sounds like an odd complaint to have about a robe, but this thing felt like it weighed 30 pounds. You weighted-blanket people might find that appealing, but I did not need my center of gravity yanked down to my knees. Also, it had banded cuffs, which I hadn’t noticed in my frenzied rush to make my purchase. Who the fuck wants cuffs on their loungewear? My wrists yearn to be free. Now they were being very lightly constricted. Unacceptable. I was remembering why I hadn’t worn rugby shirts since middle school. I tried to summon my strongest sense of denial and will myself to love the robe. But this thing cost $100, man. For a Benjamin, I should get to feel like a fucking druid. I did not feel like a druid. I finally confessed the price to my wife, and she laughed out loud. I sent it back (I had to eat the shipping fee), then bought the John Christian robe. My stance was: a $40 robe was cheap now that I had tried a $100 one. My wife didn’t complain. Or, at least, she didn’t bother to stop me. It came in the mail, and I did a fashion show for her.
“That one is much better, Drew.”
It was. It looked presentable, as robes go. The fleece was thin, lacking the kind of fluffiness I so desperately sought. But at least it was lightweight. I began wearing it like a second skin. I played hide-and-seek with the boys in it, and they found me easily, because they saw the belt hanging out of my hiding spot. I kept my weed pen in the front pocket, like I had a kangaroo’s pouch. I insisted that Twitter refer to me as Night Wolf whenever I had it on. Nighttime was robe time now. My youngest son told me point-blank, “Dad, I think you’re obsessed with your robe.” Then he kept trying to steal the belt from around my waist. Don’t make me steal your sister’s again, boy!
I wasn’t finished. Outside got wind of the Night Wolf phenomenon and hooked me up with four more robes. The first one, the Coyuchi Cloud Loom (a terry cloth) in gray ($148), was longer than an Oscars dress.
“God, it’s so ugly,” my wife said. She was right. I looked like Mama from The Carol Burnett Show. I looked drab. Lifeless. The cloud loom needed some flamingos on it or something.
The second one was a gray waffle knit from Upstate ($128), and it was oddly cold when I put it on. Also, it didn’t close fully around my torso, leaving me with a low-cut front, like I was trying out some Alicia Keys cosplay. It was not a flattering fit for me. I felt like I was wearing a dish towel.
Every robe that Outside had me test cost more than the L.L.Bean one, including a green plaid number from Pendleton that cost a whopping $289. It was stiff and itchy. I was too used to the fleece variety by now—once you go fleece, you never go back.
“Oh, that’s too formal,” my wife said. And she was right. It sounds cool to rock a formal robe: to hold a brandy snifter in your hand and ask everyone if they’d like to retire to the parlor for petits fours and games of chance. But no, I just wanted to lounge around and be stoned. The Pendleton was too genteel for such matters.
Fortunately, the final robe Outside sent me ticked off every box on my Goldilocks list. It was from Ugg. Yes, that Ugg. This one bore no resemblance to the shearling boots that have made the company a hot brand for way longer than it has ever deserved. This robe, the Robinson ($145), was listed as black heather but really scanned as a dark, dark gray. Gunmetal gray, befitting my status as an international assassin. The inside was a silvery fleece, making me feel like I was a sexy lady wearing a mink coat and only a garter belt underneath. I showed my wife the Ugg for final approval.
“I mean… it looks like a robe.”
“I could walk the dog in this robe!”
Two nights later, I did indeed take the dog to piss with my Chosen Robe adorning my beautiful body. I was outside with it on, thus fulfilling my obligations to the title of this particular magazine. I felt strong and dadly. My daughter, ever the teenage brand loyalist, was already plotting ways to steal it. Not a chance. This was mine and mine alone. This was for executive robe time. I was now a professional man of leisure.
But alas, my newfound contentment could not be eternal. I came down in my new swag one night after dinner, and my wife laid down the law. It was one thing for me to pad around in my usual T-shirt and sweats. Now I was adding an even more slovenly layer on top of them.
“I don’t know about this robe-at-night thing. I gotta draw the line somewhere. You wear those pants all day. If you could walk around with a mattress and blanket strapped to you, you would.”
“Do the kids still get robe time at night even if I don’t?”
“Yeah, but they’re different.”
“No more Night Wolf?”
“What’s Night Wolf?”
“Never mind.” I acceded to her wishes. I’ve been married for 17 years for a reason, you know. It pays to listen.
So I kept the Christian and Ugg robes, which I hang on special hooks I installed inside my closet to accommodate them. There, they wait for me, ready to love me when it’s a weekend morning and I wanna make some flapjacks in proper mafia style. But sometimes, when it’s after hours and no one is around to stop me, the Night Wolf suits up and rides once more. Ow-oooooooooooo!