(Today, i take a break from my normal writing modus operandi - saving the world, or just helping humanity keep its sanity. Be warned, this piece may be the kind of navel-gazing of interest only to myself, and future historians or archaeologists.)
"Do you have a shirt that you really love? One that you feel so groovy in?"
Dear Earth (or beyond) denizen of an unknown future century,
If you're reading this deeply into the wrob archives, you perhaps know me well enough to wish you could travel through time to offer me the kind of friendship that's almost impossible to find in these barbaric times. Don't be too saddened that you cannot do so in actuality...my imagination is projecting the thought of you, and imagination is powerful enough that such thoughts are more than empty gestures. So thank you (and, um, thank me?).
This note is a testament to how rare real friendship is. There are two sharings i've longed to offer someone. The first is showing my e-mail address book, and telling someone a little about each person therein. This kind of sharing should be an almost everyday occurrence in human society, but it's not. Painfully not.
The second sharing is one i'll offer you today. I'm going to tell you about each and every one of my shirts. It might be surprising that i should long to share this, given my non-materialism and disgust with appearance-related shallowness. But what we wear (assuming we have a choice) tells an awful lot about us. Particularly T-shirts, most of which have some sort of writing or art. As such, they communicate reams of information about us: politics, philosophy, humor, sexuality...T-shirts are walking billboards.
Here are mine.
If you're disappointed that i have SO MANY, know that i've tried to be modest. When i moved to this island, i came with six shirts.* But with garage sales and thrift shops (i paid no more than a buck for any of these), it's hard to resist a perfect T.
G = given me as a gift
K = i plan on keeping when i move
N = never worn
T = as a tree trimmer, it's nice to have shirts of which i don't care whether they get stained or torn
STAR TREK GOLD (K)
A simple T version of the classic gold uniform, with the Starfleet insignia. I found three of these in a thrift shop, and bought them all. I've patiently waited to find a blue version, as i'm more spock than kirk (but if i found a red one, i'd snap that up too).
PB&Co BIKE RACING TEAM SHIRT (GK)
The team manager gave me this at a racing event in Minnesota. I worked as a field rep and monkey mascot for this gourmet peanut butter company. Yum.
DR. SEUSS (GT)
A white shirt with sam, the cat in the hat, grinch, and things 1&2. I love all things seuss, but without yertle or the lorax, i'd be content to lose this one.
A Dark Side of the Moon shirt, with the band's faces a la Rushmore.
From "The Big Bang Theory", a sitcom with which i have quibbles, but love. A gift from my mom and aunt, who adore the show too (and call me their sheldon). My quibbles are partly legitimate, and partly a reaction to loving something embraced by middle America.
A picture of armed native indians, with the slogan "fighting terrorism since 1492". A thrift shop find too spot-on to resist.
PB&Co DARK CHOCOLATE
A grey shirt i'd love more if it weren't one of the lamest flavors. But alas, there is no cinnamon raisin shirt.
GREEN CRAYOLA (G)
Not particularly exciting, but useful when i do storytelling for kids.
KAMA SUTRA RATS (G)
Illustrations of two anthropomorphic rats in a variety of sexual positions. I like this one because i like embarrassing sexually repressed people, and it reminds me of a similar shirt i only wore once or twice before a friend "borrowed" it for good.
ROSIE THE RIVETER (GT)
A pro-female shirt, of one of the WWII work force posters. It was given me as a thank you for MCing a sweet adelines show. I cut off the sleeves, to make feminism even more empowered.
HIGH-TECH BICYCLIST SHIRT (N)
A plain black ultra-advanced fabric i bought mostly because i liked the garage sale vendor selling it. But i've never been so heated on a bike or hike that i wished i had better shirt technology. And...black? For an anti-sweating shirt?
BAZINGA WITH FACE (G)
"Big Bang" shirt #2, from the same source. This one has Sheldon's face.
YELLOW SMILEY FACE (GT)
A gift trend that came back on me, it's the symbol of an unofficial fan club for the movie "Ishtar". I gave my mom smiley-face trinkets for years, until she started returning the favor. The image is playful, so i don't mind much. Yet there's something strange about this shirt - it has a tongue. More than once, a young adult has complimented me on it, implying that it has some hip and possibly subversive meaning. Anybody?
HARRY CHAPIN FOOD BANK (K)
A friend was tossing it out, but the fact that it has a chapin logo plus a drawing by john lennon, make it an idol combination impossible to resist.
I LOVE PUSSY
A garage sale find that has an eye, a heart, and a cat. Old people sometimes think it means "I love cats", and it amuses me to not correct them. I'm a tiny bit ambivalent about this one...sometimes i love it, sometimes it feels sophomoric.
HELM FAMILY CREST (G)
A gift from mom, with her maiden name (minus an "s"). I love the anti-patriarchal implication, but too i'm not big on ANY "family pride", which is just another manifestation of tribalism.
JOIN THE MARINES (K)
I love, love, love this one. The subtitle is "Travel to strange, exotic lands. Meet unique, interesting people. And kill them." I got it from an old hippie at a garage sale who was never comfortable wearing it in public in this conservative community. I assured him it would get no such lack of exposure with me.
"Big Bang" #3. This is the only one i might keep when i move, as it has spock on it.
BLACK WITH SMILEY FACE (GT)
Mom re-gifts unashamedly.
BLUE WITH SMILEY FACE (GT)
Yes, again. I cut the sleeves off, and now use it as my dvd cleaner.
An illustration of borat, with the words "sexy time!"
PEACE SHIRT (GK)
It's got the logo, plus a beautiful saying about fireflies. It was made by a defunct at-home business run by one of my cousins.
JESUS CHRIST SALVATION
A shirt with the American Express logo modified for a christian message. The first time i saw it, i burst out loud laughing...and decided i needed to give that same opportunity to others. Occasionally, strangers compliment me on it, not having any idea i'm being ironic. I almost feel guilty, and don't have the heart to disillusion them.
It shows the quote "I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why i dismiss yours". I'm not even sure what AAA stands for (i avoid looking it up, because i like being able to say i don't know). This might be the only shirt i'd keep, if i could only keep one.
On the front it says "Shrodinger's cat is dead". On the back, "Shrodinger's cat is not dead". A quantum physics joke, the most "Big Bang" a shirt could possibly be without actually being from the show. I got it to make mom and aunty laugh.
FIELD ROAST GRAIN MEAT CO. (KG)
A gift from the neighboring booth at a food show. Addicting, amazingly yummy non-animal "meats".
*Full disclosure - i left at least ten shirts stored in northern storage.