“That Got Me To Thinkin’…?” “My Favorite Shirt” Chapter 57
By Bruce Williams
My favorite shirt is currently a salmon-colored polo by Bugatchi. It has blue, polka-dotted trim at the collar and fits just perfectly. I’ve only worn it twice so far, but I’ve received numerous compliments about the way its bright color contrasts under a dark sport coat. It’s certainly launderable, but I’ve been sending it off with my dry cleaning so that I don’t muck it up in the wash—you know…a single drop of errant bleach; the dye from someone’s newer denim; the inevitable baconing of its pristine collar—the kind of damage that no amount of ironing would be able to undo.
I think back over the years to all my favorite articles of clothing…my Walter Payton jersey that cost a fortune and that my roommate Pat allowed our mutual friend Tyler to borrow—just so he wouldn’t have to loan him something of his own because we both knew full well that those items would disappear down the abyss. That jersey vanished back in the ‘80’s, but several years ago I spotted Tyler in the mall wearing what, if it wasn’t that very same jersey some 30-odd years later, was an exact facsimile of the original (as he so claimed—a “replacement”). Short of tearing it off his back right there on the hard aisle and exposing his sweater-like hairy underbody, I harrumphed skeptically and changed the subject while I continued to eyeball the 34 on his chest, noting the wear on the numbers—pondering if it was 30 years of Maytag erosion or if he had indeed bought another of the exact same (I had severe doubts).
In 6th grade I hit a big growth spurt, and for a brief period I had one pair of jeans that fit me properly. They were a now-defunct brand called Britannica—heavily worn and faded and I loved them dearly. My mom would wash them nightly so I had something to wear to school the next day—remarking again and again that we needed to hit South Sound Mall for another pair or two. I told her to just get more of the same, maybe in different washes—a darker pair perhaps?—so she said she would. Dutily she returned home with a Mr. Rags bag, and I excitedly peered inside to see what she’d acquired. The brand was Pimento, which I hadn’t heard of before, so I slid them on and shrugged…they seemed to fit so I figured I’d give them a test run at school the next day. As I sat at my desk near the front, I heard my friend Brian whispering with Deanna (the cutest girl in our class) directly behind me that they were pretty sure that Pimentos were girls’ jeans. Mortified, I pretended not to hear them while tugging my shirt down and vowing to never wear them again as I hoped that the entire incident would soon be forgotten. Several mornings later, as I feverishly searched the hamper for my trusty Britannicas, my mom chastised me declaring, “Those filthy things?! They’re in the wash. Wear your new ones…” as she handed me the neatly folded, dreaded Pimentos. I can’t remember exactly how I sabotaged those hated pants, but their life was short-lived, and the cheap Hash jeans that then came into vogue from the H & H Outlet (not H & M…this was ‘80’s Olympia after all), soon replaced anything you could find at the dumb old mall.
There was a bomber jacket I owned that was particularly jaunty. A soft, long-sleeved pale red chambray shirt that was effective during my early dating years. Black Nike Cortez sneakers that I’ve replaced repeatedly over the years (I currently have two pairs—one for dog walking and a pristine pair that I won’t wear if it’s raining or looks like it might). They fit swimmingly, are relatively cheap and I love their understated simplicity. Now that I have the wherewithal, if I find something with a fit that I really like I’ll buy several of them all at once. The Bugatchi was a solitary find—hanging off the front of a fixture at the Nordstrom Rack all by its lonesome—beckoning me with its intriguing vibrancy as I floated by and paused with a mumbled, “Well…what have we here…”
I imagine women have a favorite underwear combo—that third date matching set that they spent way too much on. No dingy beige with a broken waistband when they know they might be seen. There’s always a ‘best’ belt—the one that hits the middle of the five holes without scrunching the material together. My wife has a go-to black tank top she wears underneath other things that I asked innocently if I should toss after the last laundry load because of its overall tatteredliness. She cautioned through clenched teeth, “Don’t you dare…”
So hug that favorite shirt—before a wayward dollop of mayonnaise leaves its oily snail trail on the chest. Polish those beloved shoes before the toe splits or the heel curves. Those jeans that show off your ass? Enjoy the small window where their seat and yours reside in parallel universes. Prepare yourself for the day when you’ll have to say goodbye…that last glimpse before you ease them into the Goodwill bag or trash bin. And if you see Buffrone out wearing my Bears jersey, go ahead and remind him that, “Hey—I think that’s actually Willie’s…”