Did I Say That? Plight of the ‘pilled’

I’m not the kind of guy who has to have the latest iProduct. I don’t stand in line overnight, waiting to buy iPhoneXXX so I can impress my coworkers or resell it in China at a 300% markup. No, I’m not that kind of profit-driven capitalist technophile.

I’d rather spend my hard-earned cash on a $79 piece of steak at Whole Foods or a vintage Smith Corona typewriter than on an Amazon Echo or Alexa or whatever her name is … or any of those gadgets supposedly designed to make your life easier but actually designed so Jeff Bezos can snoop on you.

Even though I try to avoid the latest gizmos, I stumbled on a device that I’ve waited all my life to own, and I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t know it even existed. It’s the type of gadget that should only be used by licensed professionals or skilled technicians with the appropriate training and certification, namely my dry cleaner.

It’s called a “defuzzer” or “fabric fuzz shaver.” Sounds pretty kinky, I know. It looks like a Star Wars ray gun and requires two hands to operate, and it’s our only hope as a species obsessed with fashion. In fact, I’d bet Anna Wintour and the Kardashians have an arsenal of gold-plated defuzzers.

This device will stop the scourge spreading through our closets and drawers like the black plague in medieval Europe. I admit that fuzz balls, aka “pilling,” is a condition you don’t hear much about, at least not as much as STDs, acid reflux and garlic breath. If you don’t know what pilling is, you probably live in a nudist colony or wear clothes made from petroleum-based fabrics.

Pilling makes sweaters and fleeces look like they have a serious case of teenage acne. Nasty little fuzz balls break out on the fabric and if left untreated, they cause an unsightly and discomforting condition that spreads throughout your wardrobe. On many occasions, I’ve opened my drawer and discovered an epidemic of fuzz pox. There’s no known cure, and it can only be controlled with a turbo-charged defuzzer.

(My mother told us that sweaters afflicted with fuzz balls should be quarantined and sent to Goodwill as soon as possible, at least before filing your income tax return.)

You can always tell a man of distinction by the number of fuzz balls on his Barneys sweater. So imagine my horror when I was headed to the library with my grandson for a dramatic reading of “Green Eggs and Ham,” when I put on my Patagonia fleece and ran my hand across the fabric and felt fuzzy eruptions everywhere.

Fuzz balls are the number one public health menace in clothing, followed by frayed collars and ring around the collar, which despite efforts to control it in the 1960s has never been eradicated. Pilling, conspiracy theorists say, is the result of a covert campaign by the fashion industry to force us to buy new clothes every season.

Some people believe the solution is to wear garments made from synthetic fibers. If polyester starts to go bad or melt or develop a sheen, you can just toss it on the scrap heap and head to TJ Maxx for a replacement with a designer label.

This is a problem that only someone with the vision and social consciousness of Michael Bloomberg can solve. He was the political leader who tried to ban Big Gulp in New York, and now he can lead a campaign to eradicate fuzz balls in our lifetime.

Until then, I’ll spend many hours with my battery-powered defuzzer, which operates pretty much the same way my weed whacker and Remington electric shaver do, clipping off unsightly stray fibers. Most guys love to go to their kids’ soccer games or watch ESPN. Others creep into the closet to watch porno. I, however, enjoy quiet evenings defuzzing garments for the greater good of humanity. It’s more relaxing than yoga and more affordable than happy hour.

Joe Pisani can be reached at joefpisani@yahoo.com.

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