Letter to a Young T-Shirt

Welcome to my world, new black t-shirt. Meet the gray hoodie. You guys will be working very closely together. And on your other side, please get acquainted with my mortal flesh.

You might be a little groggy from the surgery I performed on you last night, as soon as I brought you home from the merch table. It was only that most traditional of post-natal surgeries, a routine circumcision. While I don’t plan to subject any child I might have to this procedure, when it comes to t-shirts I perform circumcisions well, you might even say–religiously. Yours was a grueling triple-circumcision, but it went very well. Your original neck and sleeves have been removed, and after the initial shock, your cut edges have begun to roll nicely. While performing your circumcision post-show was technically a direct violation of Rule #3 on the only list of life wisdom I’ve ever compiled, I felt a calm assurance that the spiritual guidance necessary to perform such an ancient and mysterious ritual was with me in the depths of the blessed night you arrived unexpectedly, but most welcome, in my life.

I knew you were my t-shirt from the moment I saw you. The band hadn’t even played yet, but the font was so lovely and the sentiment of the band’s name so clear that I decided that even if the band sucked, I would still want to wear the t-shirt. But the band did not suck. Oh, how greatly and gloriously did they not suck! Were ever the myriad influences of all stoner rock at once so heavily drawn upon and yet somehow made new? (Not since the last time I made the exact same comment, about the last band this same friend took me to see.) Did ever a 90-minute set go by in such a mesmerizing haze of headbanging riffs? Could it really be true, as the band joked in their stage banter, “[Were] there really four sexy men playing rock and roll for me?” There really were. Were they really covering Black Sabbath for their encore? They really were. By the time I recovered you, new black t-shirt, from inside the sleeve of my jacket, under the bench where I’d stashed you both for the duration of the waking dream, you had already grown and changed, from a mere garment into a talisman of rocking out.

The name of the band, the words on the shirt–they are just right. “The Stone Foxes,” you read, in old-timey letters, only a few misread letters from not one but several pleasing double-entendres. You will insinuate almost subliminally to all who glance in passing that I am either a stone fox, or a stoned fox, or perhaps even an entire plurality of stoned foxes. The reality of my looks at any given moment is immaterial to the caption you, the t-shirt, will provide. Why say it or even embody it when your t-shirt can say it for you?

Oh, the places we’ll go, black Stone Foxes t-shirt, oh, the things we will do. Oh, the fluids I’ll smear on you. I will sweat into your armpit seams until the funk lingers slightly even after washing. I will wipe that clear, cleansing snot that runs after spicy meals or bracing cold on your shoulder or hem. I will use you to mop the sweat of my brow and likely as not dab some tears or staunch some wounds before you disintegrate completely. When you are a pillowcase I’ll drool on you. When I spontaneously go swimming, you’ll become a towel and I’ll wring the seawater from your fibers. Hot sauce and beer and wine and water will splash and dribble upon you. I’ll do my best to keep the salad dressing at bay, as salad dressing stains even black. And if I puke in you, you have my solemn word that I’ll do my very best not to puke on you.

I don’t want you to feel any pressure, but you are the cornerstone of my entire wardrobe. When I can only bring one t-shirt, you will be the t-shirt. You’ll be worn most often with jeans and army pants, but come summer you’ll also spend time with some patterned skirts, particularly the snakeskin print. You will be separated by an expanse of pants from the black boots, but you are related, so keep in touch. Get to know the Chaco, you’ll be responsible for styling up this bit of wilderness wear come sandal season. And of course, there is the flip-flop, the shoe that lets you know that you, and I, and all the stoned foxes, are taking it easy.

You’ll be slept in, woken in, driven in, hiked in, dined in, drunk in, smoked in and slept in again. You will reek of experience. You will experience experience. We will experience experience together, as one, a holy trinity of woman, t-shirt and the experience of experience.

Because I am not as young as I used to be, because not everything is happening to me for the first time (though I do my damndest to find things that are), because I see in all beginnings the seeds of ends, because change is the only constant, because I suffer from a preemptive nostalgia for experiences I even haven’t had yet or am actually having right now–I can imagine the day when you are threadbare, when a fingernail snags a transparent patch in your fabric and rips it wide, when you acquire a hole in a place so revealing that you no longer qualify as clothing. The life cycle of a t-shirt is variable, and most ironically, the more I love you, the sooner we’ll be parted. I am both poorer and more casually dressed than I used to be, and this will increase the frequency of your wearing and thus hasten your demise all the quicker. But I’d say we’ve got a good few years ahead, new black Stone Foxes t-shirt, this summer and next summer and likely the summer after that. Your predecessor, the famous “Chloe Libre” t-shirt, has served three summers and lives to tell the tale.

You’ve got big shoes to fill in Chloe Libre, my–I can’t bring myself to say previous, so let’s just say elder statesman–black t-shirt. Chloe Libre harkens back to the epic summer of 2008, which was surpassed only in epicness by the summers of 2009 and 2010. It will be on your circumcised shoulders, new black Stone Foxes t-shirt, to join me in making the summer of 2011–nay, the remaining entirety of 2011, more epic than all of those previous summers combined.

There are others who came before you, tucked away in the nursing home of t-shirts, worn only around the house, too old to go outside, the Hong Kong t-shirt (years of service, 2002-2009), the Photon Intergalactic Gathering t-shirt (years of service, 2003-2008). There are the other t-shirts, including the white t-shirt, the gray t-shirt, and the t-shirts of the ferocious animals, and the t-shirts of the non-ferocious animals. There are also your closely related cousins, the tank tops, not to mention all of the other garments that cover my nakedness and insulate my mortal flesh.  But you, new black t-shirt, are at the center of everything, and we, new black t-shirt, have only just begun.

2 Responses to “Letter to a Young T-Shirt”
  1. Stephen says:

    Baby pictures would’ve been nice :]

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  1. […] which I introduce you to a piece of T-shirt literature quite different from the T-shirt literature you generally consume around these here parts. […]

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