Saturday, December 29th, 2012

t-shirt georgetown vintageI walked into a record store wearing a ratty old t-shirt with the Georgetown bulldog across the chest and both the guys behind the counter were just flat-out wowed by it.

“What an awesome t-shirt!” the first guy blurted out, when he saw it.

The second guy eyed my shirt with a lustful twinkle in his eye and asked, “Is that a vintage shirt or a, you know, favorite shirt that you’ve had for a while?” I liked the way he substituted “favorite shirt” et cetera in place of “a ratty old shirt you’ve kept way too long.”

It took a moment to dawn on me that they were both wearing “vintage shirts.” They looked like the kind of guys who had a huge collection of “vintage shirts” in their closets at home. In fact, they looked like the kind of guys who would wear t-shirts to a wedding. Only their best t-shirts, though.

Apparently the difference between “vintage shirts” and shirts that you’ve kept way too long (or “favorite shirts”) is that “vintage shirts” are new t-shirts that have been soaked in lye, sandblasted or trampled by a herd of elephants to make them look old.

I would also guess that they pay quite a lot more money for old-looking, vintage t-shirts than I ever would. My limit’s about twelve bucks, and I’d prefer to stay in the neighborhood of five bucks. Not a lot of t-shirts out there for that kind of money, which is why I won’t buy t-shirts except when they’re hilarious, or as a souvenir. I’ve got a t-shirt from each visit to the Great Taste of the Midwest, for instance. I had to stick a crowbar in my wallet and part with twenty-five bucks for each of those, which is why I’ll probably be wearing them until they’re way past their expiration date. If “vintage shirts” are still popular then, I’m golden.

My Darling B and I were visiting Crema Cafe for breakfast recently when a man sat down at the table next to us wearing an old U-Wisconsin sweatshirt. I have rarely seen such a ratty sweatshirt. I would guess he bought it when he was a freshman, and I’m a lousy judge of how old people are but I’d guess he was in his late fifties or early sixties. It was obviously his very favoritest sweatshirt ever. He probably took it out only on special occasions, such as when he had breakfast with his friends on Sunday morning at Crema Cafe.

I have a very favoritest sweatshirt, too. It’s gray with maroon lettering across the chest that says “University of Denver.” I found it at a garage sale ten or fifteen years ago, and it was looking awfully vintage then. The maroon lettering was faded and splotchy, and now is almost unreadable. The stitching is beginning to unravel and the cuffs and collar are falling apart. There are holes in the armpits. But the heavy cotton material it’s made of is so soft and comfortable that I can’t bear to part with it. It’s so ratty now that it would make the two guys in the record shop swoon with desire, but they’ll never lay eyes on it because it’s long past the point where I’ll wear it in public. I only pull it on when I’m putzing around in the basement. Sorry, guys.

vintage | 8:18 am CDT
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Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

image of toy dinosaursMy Darling B and I spent the afternoon shopping for clothes. And here’s just one more reason I have to believe she’s the perfect match for me: We both feel that the only thing more painful than shopping for clothes is getting run over by a train. Wait, no: Shopping for a car is probably more painful. I’m pretty sure she’d be with me on that one, too.

Shopping for clothes can never be over and done with quickly enough. Even when I know exactly what I want, and I know exactly where it should be in the store, and the store just happens to have it in my size, it will still take me at least an hour and a half to drive to the store, go into the store, grab the clothes I want, pay for the clothes, get out of the store and drive home. An hour and a half of my weekend is a lot more time than I’m willing to give up for anything but the things I enjoy doing, or absolutely must do.

Unfortunately, we had both put off buying clothes for so long that I was down to the last pair of pants that were good enough to wear in mixed company. I had a few not-so-grubby ones that I could still wear in public, but only if I knew I wouldn’t be going anyplace fancier than the hardware store, or to a place where I knew the lights wouldn’t be very strong, like a corner tavern, or a dungeon. B was in a somewhat similar fix. Looking for new clothes had become something we absolutely had to do, so, with gritted teeth, we saddled up and headed across town to the Hilldale Mall.

B had the idea that she could get what she wanted at Macy’s. That turned out to be wrong, mostly. I think she said she found a handbag there that was exactly what she was looking for, “but I can get it cheaper on the internet.” It turned out she was totally wrong about that. The one at Macy’s was a steal. Well, maybe not exactly a steal, but more affordable than any she could find on teh intarwebs. Now she’ll have to go back.

Macy’s had a pleasant surprise in store (accidental pun) for me: Pants by Dockers. Lots of stores carry Dockers, but never in my size. In fact, I think it’s a state law that Dockers can sell pants in Wisconsin only if they have a waist no smaller than 40 inches. If you’d ever been to the Monroe Cheese Festival, you’d know why. But Macy’s must have been granted a waiver, or somebody goofed up the order, because they had two pairs of Dockers pants in a 33 waist, and I snapped them both up. Didn’t even care that they were priced at fifty-eight bucks apiece. I had to have them. Weirdly, when I checked out, the guy scanned the price tag, then got a little sheet of bar code stickers out of his cash register, peeled one off and placed it on the price tag over the original bar code and scanned it again. He did the same thing to the other pair of pants. I got them both for seventy-something bucks total, so there must have been an unadvertised sale going on. Score!

But the shoe selection at Macy’s was dismal, nothing but very stylish dress shoes, and running shoes. What I really needed was a pair of walking shoes, so I left the store by the main entrance to see what the rest of the mall had to offer and came face to face with a North Face store. That’s too many faces to be coincidental. And besides, North Face wouldn’t sell crappy shoes to hikers, right? So I barged right in and asked the first salesperson I ran into about walking shoes.

She wanted to sell me a pair of flashy running shoes, all shiny silver trimmed with traffic yellow. “Have you got a good walking shoe I could also wear if I wanted to stop into a nice place for a drink?” I asked her. “Something, um, normal-looking?” And indeed she did, a nice all-terrain shoe with leather uppers. She even had it in my size.

Back at the mall, My Darling B was having no luck at all searching for jeans or shirts among the available clothes. She wasn’t doing much better with the shoes. There was one pretty good shoe store at the mall, but a dozen or so people were competing for face time with the few salesmen on staff, so she gave up on that. We regrouped outside Macy’s to discuss our options and she decided to try one more time down the other way, while I amused myself in the toy store. They had dinosaurs. There’s still no toy better than a toy dinosaur.

Eventually, we had to make a trip to the Kohl’s store right down the road from the neighborhood where we live to find some jeans she could live with. They’ve got sparklies on the butt, but I guess she’s okay with that. I’ve never seen her with sparklies on her butt before. It’s a new thing for me. Maybe a good thing. I’ll have to think about it a while.

sparklies | 6:06 pm CDT
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Sunday, May 27th, 2012

image of the rattiest t-shirt in the worldBehold! The rattiest t-shirt in our laundry basket!

“I thought I had some ratty t-shirts,” My Darling B noted as she was folding the laundry this morning, “but this one of yours has all of mine beat!”

I had a pretty good idea which one she was talking about, but I made her tell me anyway. “Is it the Bucky Badger shirt?” I asked her.

“Yes!” she answered, with no small amount of emphasis.

I don’t know how it merits the honor of being the rattiest t-shirt either of us possess. It’s a little stretched-out and faded, but it doesn’t have any holes in it yet and it’s not stained. It’s well-worn. One of my favorite shirts to wear while doing yard work. In fact, I think I’ll wear it while I’m mowing the lawn today.

rattiest | 10:17 am CDT
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