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Snuggie not as adaptable as you'd think

Tammy Swift and John Lamb wear Snuggies at the OB Sports Zone in downtown Fargo. (David Samson/The Forum)

FARGO - We stand in a Fargo bar, packed with Bison fans flaunting green sweatshirts and plenty of school spirit.

I am sure we're going to die.

The problem is that this is the hotly anticipated NDSU Bison vs. Kansas Jayhawks basketball game. For reasons that I will soon explain, my colleague John Lamb and I are wearing Snuggies, the bizarre loungewear/blanket hybrid that seems to be taking America by storm.

Unfortunately, in a severe tactical error, I purchased Snuggies that are Jayhawk-blue. We are about as popular as a couple of porterhouses at a PETA luncheon.

But discomfort becomes your constant companion when you wear a Snuggie out in public. That's what we learned after a recent experiment, triggered by the Snuggie's own marketing machine. Their ads seem to suggest the Snuggie is not just for home use, but can be worn proudly 'round a campfire, at a sporting event, or perhaps to the occasional inaugural ball.

We envisioned an entire nation of Americans ambling around their neighborhoods dressed like medieval stonecutters. Is this what we had come to? Were we officially too lazy to put on pants?

And so I (willingly) and colleague John Lamb (not so willingly) agreed to an experiment. We would wear Snuggies for an afternoon. We wanted to find out, firsthand, whether this peculiar loungewear really was practical for activities such as shopping, cheering for the home team or visiting a cultural hotspot.

Upon removing the garments from the boxes, we were less than impressed. Its creators bragged that "one size fits all." Sure. If you're a Kodiak Bear.

The sleeves practically dragged on the floor. The gown itself was long enough to fit a Sleestak. The sloppy cowl neckline kept falling off my narrow shoulders (and not in a sexy "Flashdance" way). And the back of the whole ill-fitting mess gaped open like a hospital gown.

Not only that, the fabric was so chintzy that it immediately began to shed. Within five minutes, my black corduroys were plastered with shiny, blue polyester lint and I was coughing up more blue fur than Marge Simpson's cat.

Hairballs and all, our adventures began.

(Editor's note: This experiment happened in March before the flooding, but complications from reporting on the flood didn't allow the story to be completed until recently.)

Noon: OB Sports Zone, Fargo, NDSU Bison vs. Kansas Jayhawks game, NCAA tournament

Granted, there are not a lot of colors to choose from in the Snuggie rainbow. There's a burgundy hue that would befit a Satanic cult. There's an anemic green. And there's a Smurfilicious blue.

Unfortunately "Smurfilicious" is awfully close to Jayhawks blue. So now John and I huddle in a corner of the OB, praying we won't be beaten to a pulp.

The fleece fabric is uncomfortably hot. And the flowing robes are shockingly constrictive when you try to jump around and cheer. I can't imagine what a disaster those sleeves would be around large bowls of salsa.

Perhaps the Snuggies would work better at an outdoor sporting event or a Fargo Force game. Then we would at least be wearing the home team's colors.

1 p.m. Arctic Audio, Bison-Jayhawks party

We stop off at the home stereo/theater store owned by Rod and Ellen Shafer, where they are watching the game on a massive home-theater screen. The natives are friendlier here, partly because the Shafers are FOLs (Friends of Lamb). They invite John to settle into a lipstick-red recliner while I plop into a "Cuddlebag" - basically a beanbag on steroids.

At last, we've found the activity best suited for our Friar Tuck garments: lounging. I nearly doze off in the Cuddlebag; it's like resting on a giant sponge. But once it's time to leave, the Cuddlebag swallows me. With excess Snuggie fabric wrapped around my feet, I have trouble getting out of this beanbag from hell. I am like a beetle stuck on its back in a drop of honey.

Finally, someone takes pity on me and pulls me out.

2 p.m.: West Acres Shopping Center, Fargo

Our plan is to get a coffee, grab a snack and then hang out by the giant fireplace in the food court.

Seems easy enough. But our hooded death robes attract a lot of attention. Mothers nervously steer their baby strollers away from us, worried we belong to a religious cult. Adolescents openly laugh and point. One janitor stops and stares. "Is that those things you see on TV?" he asks, looking duly impressed. We assure him they are.

We proceed to eat soft pretzels by the fire, only to discover two things:

1. It is really uncomfortable to wear a polyester, body-swaddling garment next to any type of heat source. In fact, I'm sure I could smell melting - like someone had left a plastic spatula on the oven burner.

2. Trying to scrub cheese dip out of a Snuggie is like trying to spot-clean a Kleenex.

2:45: Rourke Art Gallery, Moorhead

Still dressed as sweaty apostles, we arrive at the door of the Rourke Art Gallery, ready to soak up a bit of culture. We are greeted by Rourke board member Jeanne Aske, who (fortunately) finds our little adventure amusing.

The impeccably dressed Aske even jumps in and "styles" our pathetic robes for us. With a few deft twists and adjustments to the shapeless, cheap fabrics, our Snuggies transform from sad-sack to halfway-haute. Now gently cowled and fitted over our shoulders, the Snuggies almost look ... decent.

3:30 Moorhead DQ

By now we are tired, hungry and pretty sick of our smothering Snuggie-osity. And so we head to the most logical place: the Moorhead Dairy Queen, located at one of the city's busiest intersections.

At this point I'm grumpy and ready to take on all haters. "What are you looking at, Grandma?" I want to snap at an innocent blue hair who glances at us over her vanilla cone.

We order our treats, then sullenly eat them while staring down the motorists who zoom by.

Let 'em gawk. Sometimes a medieval stone mason needs a Peanut Buster Parfait, too.