I have right now — and I know this because I just counted — slightly more than 150 t-shirts in what I would consider “heavy rotation”. This seems absurd to me. It’s even more ridiculous when you consider that number represents the t-shirt count after I just tossed about 20 into the back of my car to take to Goodwill tomorrow on my way to the office. And that number does not include the 30 or 40 t-shirts “archived” under the bed in the guest bedroom along with approximately 75 baseball caps. Clearly I have a problem.
As I was cleaning my closet this afternoon I realized that although I frequently forget people’s birthdays and after almost ten years still often find myself lost maneuvering the streets of Los Angeles, I can tell you an intricately detailed story about the acquisition of every one of those t-shirts. I can usually also remember a (to me, at least) quirky and / or funny story about something that happened to me while wearing one of them.
While choosing which ones were to be discarded, that was my primary criteria: Can I tell you a good story about this piece of fabric? So a red Marlboro t-shirt that came when I purchased 3 packs of that brand at a 7-11 in Daytona Beach, Florida in the summer of 1992 and then wore only one time a few weeks later when I was returning from a day playing volleyball doesn’t pass muster. Also destined to shelter some penniless alcoholic around the homeless shelters of LA is a Captain Morgan t-shirt that my friend’s older brother gave me after a night of drinking in high school which I occasionally wore to the gym in the late 90s but otherwise failed to leave an impression.
I have 23 plain white Banana Republic t-shirts, all size large. Why? When I moved to Los Angeles I did not own a single plain white t-shirt. I brought dozens and dozens with Spring Break slogans, beer company advertisements, University of Florida football scores, and ones that I managed to win while rowing. And every time I ran a 5K or attended a software development conference, of course, I was awarded a t-shirt. But not a single plain white t-shirt. Until I turned 24 I had never owned what many people consider to be one of the primary components of a man’s wardrobe. One day my girlfriend suggested that I wear just a plain white t-shirt under my pinstriped blue Oxford that I had thought looked good for dinner, and I had none.
That night, while we waited for a table at Mexicali in Studio City, I walked next door to Banana Republic and purchased three plain white t-shirts for $16/ea. She told me that I looked smashing and from that day until now I have made it a point to always have plenty of them handy, including at least one brand new one.
Clearly I have a problem.
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