Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Dig: T-shirts With Sayings On Them

Love t-shirts. I'm a t-shirt kind of guy. As much as I am a middle management suck-ass and wear plenty of "dressy" shirts to work, I am Mr. T-Shirt Man on the weekends. In addition to being a suck-ass, perhaps you've noticed that I'm also a smart-ass. And since I am wasting your time writing about not becoming a dentist (even though my "friend" Mark thought it was too wordy), I also dig manipulating the English language. Thus, I am a big fan of funny, sarcastic, t-shirts with well-written messages on them. I'll provide a few examples for clarification:

I'm With Stupid. A classic. Short and to the point. Of course, without the arrow pointing to the sorry sap who happens to be next to you, the whole point is lost. Hilarity ensues when two people are walking down the sidewalk, one of whom has the t-shirt on pointing to his hapless sidekick! Back in the day, this probably wouldn't be on my list of faves, but now it harkens back to a simpler time when only girls had pierced ears. Next time I see Mark, I'm going to make sure I'm wearing this shirt and stand next to him all day long.

Frankie Say Relax. Not so much. I love the '80's. In fact, I love the VH1 show "I Love the '80's". Loved the song even after I understood all the homosexual references. However, the neon, oversized t-shirt hasn't made the translation well. Maybe in another ten years, this will be a classic just like the I'm With Stupid shirt but, for now, it's best used for wiping out the cupboards one last time prior to moving out of your basement apartment.

Anything Really Old With The Date On It Telling The Reader How Old It Is. I have two examples for you. The first is my own t-shirt celebrating U-Michigan winning the basketball national championship. Anyone remember that? That was prior to Chris Weber and all of his shenanigans. 1989. Yep, 16 years ago. I was in my fourth (not to be confused with "senior") year at Michigan and have fond memories of the riot that took place after Rumeal Robinson made the winning free throws. Still have the shirt. Don't wear it anymore but I still have it, doggone it. I'll break it out for the right occasion though. Like when Michigan wins another basketball championship. Or when monkeys fly out of my butt. My second example is also sports related. I once saw a guy wearing a Cleveland Browns t-shirt celebrating a divisional championship in 1981. This is significant because the year was 1996. This die-hard Browns fan was wearing a 15-year-old t-shirt. Nice! That's dedication, people. A shirt that age just screams "Even though the Browns suck now and are leaving Cleveland under the dark of night to move to Baltimore, I'm going to hold on to the glory years of 1981 and, for that matter, I'm going to compare everything in my life to how good it was 15 years ago when all the cars had V-8's and you could work on them yourself before we got all these damn rice burners on the road!" Yes, I realize that it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue to scream a sentence that long, but you get my point.

The Such-and Such 5k/10k/Marathon, etc. T-Shirt. I mention this category of t-shirt because I have about 15 of these myself. These shirts are "given away" to anyone running in one of these events. Since they are supposedly freebies, the price is definitely right because they are pretty nerdy. Each one has a logo showing some guy running and a list of the various causes or sponsors. They may have a different picture and different sponsors, but they all fall under the heading of "ran the race, got the t-shirt". I'm working my way up to a marathon so maybe that one will have some sentimental meaning to me, but otherwise these are worth as much as you paid for them. If I wear my "Susan Komen Breast Cancer Awareness 5k, Grand Rapids, Michigan" t-shirt with my gay-ass Timex Ironman digital watch and my running shoes and shorty socks, I look like a real dork. Some people might say I'm a dork no matter what I wear, but I just tell them to shut up.

Pseudo Gas Station/Surf Shop/Bar T-shirts. Don't waste my time with fakes. American Eagle Outfitters has a bunch of these and so does Old Navy. A t-shirt from Bud's Amoco in Wichita is sweet but only if Bud has one himself so you can look like Bud. And who doesn't want to blend in with gas station attendants?! In Grand Haven, we have a bar called the Tip-A-Few Tavern. If you're looking for a fight, that would be the place to go. They make really strong drinks and the air is so thick with smoke, you chew it more than breathe it. Great place. Their t-shirts say something about having really good burritos, which is true - their burritos kick ass. That makes their t-shirts cool. However, if the marketing department at Old Navy printed the very same t-shirt, it would suck. Part of having a cool t-shirt is visiting the place so you can tell people about it when they ask you if the burritos are any good. Same thing goes for the Bad-Ass Coffee Shop in Destin, Florida. Yes, they have cool t-shirts by virtue of their name. And I can vouch for their mocha latte's too.

Hard Rock Cafe T-shirts. This is a toughie. The Hard Rock has gotten pretty corporate and has kind of sold out to The Man. Anymore, one HRC isn't much different than another. All of them have impossibly small purple jumpsuits from Prince, bustiers from Madonna and guitars from Ratt (speaking of the 80's). I think that the farther away from the actual Cafe, the cooler the t-shirt is. I have two HRC t-shirts right now - one from London and one from Stockholm, so those might be a little cooler than one from Chicago or Detroit (please see a map of the US to confirm that I live closer to Chicago and Detroit than London or Stockholm). Maybe I'll work out a little deal with the other white-bread people in the suburbs of Stockholm.... For what it's worth, I also have a t-shirt from the now-defunct All-Star Cafe. Myrtle Beach. Got it in 1998.

Concert T-shirts. Another classic. Cheesy, yet classic. Again, I've had my share of these over the years, but the only one I own right now is from a Jimmy Buffett concert outside of Chicago. I saw Jimmy at Wrigley Field this summer and thought about buying a shirt. Cooler heads prevailed, though. Similar to the 5k genre, the only thing that changes on these t-shirts is the artist and the list of dates and venues. Oh, and the price. Better stop off and apply for a loan on the way to the concert so you can buy a t-shirt because these things are way overpriced. Generally, I'm going to say that concert t-'s are out unless you have one from when The Ramones played CBGB in 1972 or something. That would be sweet.

Obscure Things/Sayings That Are Just Out There T-shirts. Perhaps my favorite t-shirt is a mustard yellow shirt that shows how to open a Presta bike tube valve. On the back of the t-shirt is a regular (Schraeder) valve next to a Presta valve with an arrow pointing to the Presta with the word "unscrew" next to it. I'm sure you're saying "Huh?" right about now. You might also be saying "Who would want a t-shirt with stupid stuff on it?" Further, you might say "That dude is a nut job!". My point exactly! An instant favorite! That's why the Old Navy fakes suck - they don't mean anything to the wearer. It's just Mr. Old Navy being a poser.

Got a favorite t-shirt? Let me know.


Colin said...

I have had this discussion with Absurd Wife so many times that it makes me smile to know there are others out there like myself. I recently threw away literally dozens of t-shirts that had looooong outlived their usefulness. Ironically, most of them had some manner of printed message on them. Wanna guess how many are left since the weeding out process? No less than 50. I own today more than 50 t-shirts. And if you think I'm kidding, I urge you to dare me to prove it because i have a $20 bill and a digital camera. The casualties of my recent "thinning out" tactic included lots and lots of old tennis shirts with rips or worn edges -- most with a Nike or Addidas emblem. I also admit that I had at least a half dozen family reunion t-shirts which are just plain gay. I, too, have my 1989 Championship t-shirt from U of Michigan. I also believe that somewhere in a box down my basement is an early 90's "Frozen Four" t-shirt, although to be honest I haven't seen that one in ages.

My worst t: I'll deny this if asked, but I own a "Les Miserables" t-shirt. Please don't ask what I was thinking. The very fabric screams gay.

My best t: Hands down. My Haywood Banks t-shirts. All of them. I think I have four and they all rock. I still am in hysterics from stuff I saw at his show 15 years ago.

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