The Cat's Pajamas?

What to wear for Crazy Day? I don't know what to do for the last day of school.

Last week we made cats out of triangles in art class. The children had been singing "My Hat It Has Three Corners" in music class with the hand signs. So we changed it to "My Cat It Has Three Corners," and "My Corner Has Three Cats".

My own little condo corner seems quite full with the three of us prowling around at contrasting hours of the morning and night. I started thinking about cats for art class during a spell of two a.m. insomnia when no pajamas seem quite right for the thermostatically-challenged woman of a certain age. If I had cat's pajamas, I could wear them on Crazy Day...but it is entirely too hot, humid, and windy today to venture out to the mall in search of pjs.

The expression "cat's pajamas" seems to date from the flapper era, along with the "bee's knees." The Random House Word Maven, Valerie Stecher, wrote on 1/2/01 that the "cat's pajamas":

...means 'a wonderful or remarkable person or thing'. But it nearly always implies stylishness and newness-it's 'the greatest thing since sliced bread'....pajamas were a relatively new fashion in the 1920s.

There are many similar expressions combining an animal with a part of the body or article of clothing inappropriate for it, such as the sea lions' capri pants. And no, I won't wear capri pants for Crazy Day. I do have a three-cornered hat left from many sons' history projects that I might wear.

Ted Tjaden, a Canadian lawyer and law librarian, has put together a website with ragtime piano sheet music and sheet music covers, including a section on animal-themed rags. The Cat's Pajamas, a "novelty piano solo," was written by Harry Jentes in 1922. It's fabulously fun stuff. It'll make you feel like strutting down the alley, so check it out!

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder

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