the private lives of american intellectuals

Paul Krugman Has Learned to Not Blow-Dry His Underwear

We assumed there weren’t a lot of things about Paul Krugman we didn’t know, since, after all, he’s always telling us exactly what he thinks. We were so wrong! This week’s New Yorker profile contains a number of personal details about the Nobel Prize–winning economist and Times columnist that, altogether, reveals a complex, rich tapestry of a man. We learn that when at his home in St. Croix with his wife, Robin Wells, he “wears the same shirt for days,” waddles in the surf and drinks piña coladas. (Picture it: Krugman’s toes, poking through the hot Caribbean sand!) Back in New Jersey, where he has another home with two cats, Doris Lessing and Albert Einstein (Krugman, it seems, prefers Doris, with whom he was also photographed for Rolling Stone), he frequently takes yoga classes taught by his wife, though not “the class for somewhat younger and mostly female people.” And as his elfin visage and taste for shamanic music indicates, Krugman is if not an actual renaissance-fair enthusiast, a participant in a similar lifestyle.

Last August, Krugman decided that before he and Wells departed for a bicycle tour of Scotland he would take a couple of days to speak at the sixty-seventh world science-fiction convention, to be held in Montreal. (Krugman has been a science-fiction fan since he was a boy.) At the convention, there was a lot of extremely long hair, a lot of blue hair, and a lot of capes. There was a woman dressed as a cat, there was a woman with a green brain attached to her head with wire, there was a person in a green face mask, there was a young woman spinning wool. There was a Jedi and a Storm Trooper. Those participants who were not dressed as cats were wearing T-shirts with something written on them: “I don’t understand—and I’m a rocket scientist,” “I see dead pixels,” “Math is delicious.” … Krugman looked happy to be there. It seemed that these were, in some worrying sense, his people.

The story even went into his pants.

The story even went into his pants.

Often, while traveling, he is forced to wash them in hotel sinks. This is annoying.

It’s not so much the washing as the drying that presents a problem. Years of experiments have failed to yield a satisfactory solution. Krugman has discovered that it is slow and quite risky to use a hair dryer with any item that involves elastic. Long ago, in Tel Aviv, his roommates found him attempting to dry his underwear in a frying pan.

The trick with underwear is to wring it out and then press down — 

I learned this from yoga workshops,” Wells says. “You get out as much excess water as you can, then you lay a dry towel flat on the floor, you lay the article of clothing on the towel, and roll it up like this — 

And then it’s only slightly damp in the morning when you have to put it on.”

No, it’s usually dry. We also do that on bike trips.”

Wait. Forty pairs of underwear for a single bike trip? Why does Krugman need so much underwear? Maybe the economy is far worse off than we thought.

The Deflationist [NYer]

Paul Krugman Has Learned to Not Blow-Dry His Underwear