Ode to the T-shirt

They are windows to our souls. They say who we are and what we believe; who we support and who we despise. A good one will make us laugh or, heaven forbid, think just a little. Maybe. A bad one will make us roll our eyes, draw our ridicule.

More than any other item of clothing we own, our T-shirts deliver our message to the world.

“Shit Happens.” The red shirt with large block yellow lettering, worn by a man applying to join my father’s construction crew, provided me with my earliest lesson of the power of the T-shirt. I was playing in the yard with my brother when the man stepped out of his car and walked towards the house/office.

By this time in my life I had shot myself at point-blank range with a bb gun in the leg – it was only one pump, but one pump was enough to have me jumping around the yard cursing. And I had placed a sweater de-fuzzer on my tongue to see what it felt like. To save you the trouble of testing this out, you know those little bumps on your tongue? Well, they are the tongue’s equivalent of fuzz and a de-fuzzer removes them. There is blood involved and a strict no salt diet for at lest a week.

What I am trying to say is that I was a stupid kid and even I knew that Mr. “Shit Happens” would not be getting a job that day. All because of his T-shirt.

My T-shirt collection is extensive. I have over 50 shirts in my current T-shirt rotation and at least another 50 somewhere in storage. I keep these for their sentimental value. Some of them are over 20 years old, which means I was about seven when I was wearing them. Oh the memories.

Don King – my oafish distant cousin, not the oafish boxing promoter – broke my leg as I ran from first to second at the Wilt family reunion. Our legs got tangled and my little femur experienced a spiral fracture. I was out. That reunion still stands out against all of the other drab reunions and to this day I bump into distant relatives that say: “Aren’t you that boy that broke his leg playing waffle ball in ’87. I remember, sounded like a chicken bone being snapped.” I don’t remember the sound, but I do remember that I was wearing a yellow Garfield T-shirt.

If they are windows to our souls, what kind of soulless person would make you throw some of your more beloved ones away? Your wife.

RIP yellowed, stretched-out Kung Fu shirt.

RIP Purdue Basketball shirt. You accompanied me on my first around the world trip.

You were all loyal friends. Know that your cotton blend may deteriorate in some landfill but the memories never will.

Add a comment
Kyle Timmerman says:

You threw away the Purdue Basketball shirt that I bought you?!?!?! What the heck, man?!?

Noticed the Ohio connection (I’m just north of Columbus)… Great writing. That’s definitely an “at birth” kind of gift, and you’ve got it.

Kelsey says:

Kyle, sorry it was faded. In fact the P was completely worn away. Who wants to walk around wearing an urdue Basketball shirt?

Heather, thanks I’m glad you like my writing. For me I think writing is 40% an “at birth gift” and 60% “practicing a lot.” When I look back at the stuff I wrote two or three years (or in some cases a few months ago) I cringe. I’m sure two or three years when I look back to my current writings I’ll do the same. I checked out your website. It looks like you have a lot of interesting irons in the fire.

Let your voice be heard!