Friday, October 17, 2014

It's Just A Shirt.

At an early age my family relocated to a new subdivision that was on a reclaimed swamp down here in south Louisiana. The area was drained, dried, partially cleared and eventually ready for development.  This re-purposed wilderness turned into my childhood neighborhood. Luckily we were in the first ten houses in the area. Parts of it were still slightly wild and yet to be denuded. Groves of Cypress interwove with Palmetto, there was Swamp Maple and Wax Myrtle, Bulls Tongue, cattails and Louisiana Iris.

I challenged the neighborhood kids to stop playing football in the streets and tearing up the empty lots with our dirt bikes and four-wheelers that were laid up from hunting season (this is growing up in south Louisiana guys). The way I got them to do it was through building trails in our grove of lowland swamp/forest. The trails were used for riding but also to eventually interconnect a number of tree houses and other forts. Out of this land we built a kingdom, but my unquestioned reign of this realm could be historically contested.

We were all in. It was coolin' off in the shade now. We had iron horses, trade routes and a number of outposts in our miniature wilderness. What was missing though was identity. Sure we were the neighborhood kids but identity? Solidarity?

On occasion, my father has bestowed on me some of his clothing that no longer fits. At this same age he gave me a collection of shirts. It was the whole rainbow of solid colors. They were collared and fairly soft to the touch. They really didn't fit me yet but they had a cool logo. It was something we could all relate to: An alligator.

What my father gave me was a complete collection of vintage Lacoste/Izod shirts (they were still the same company).

I gave them out to my friends and guess what. We had a club.

They got trashed.


It was glorious.

I had a closet a college kid would drool over but what did we care as a group of wild youths running around the woods? A quality wardrobe? Beliefs that it is our stuff that makes us? Attachment to physical, overpriced, replaceable, consumer possessions that have little to no real practical application?  Ha, no, we were kids and, hey, it's just a shirt.

* * *

Last week, for a special occasion, I went out with a few of my favorite members of the fairer gender for a night of dancing.  While dancing may be one of my weakest art forms (and far worse than my writing), it is still one that brings me physical and emotional enjoyment. It is social, sporadic and expressive. Every so often I "get down" and really have a good time. This was one of those nights.

Getting up off my thang', I just so happened to land the heel of my foot, ever so unintentionally, upon the shoes of a well-dressed gentleman in a nice sport coat. He had been trying to return to his party with drinks. The momentum from my uncalculated placement of an appendage caused this respectable citizen to lose the liquid contained in his glass. This resulted in the unfortunate consequence of wetting his coat. 

Appearing angered by the incident we had a visual exchange. His formal wear against my casual stained blue jeans and brand placement outdoor t-shirt must have been a sight of true contrast. Crowded bar? Walking through dance floor? Over dressed for the venue? Was he really unsettled? Should he have been irritated? Ha, no, we are adults and, hey, it's just a shirt.



  1. “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”

  2. If a naked man stands up on a table in packed bar, he will definitely command the attention of the venue, at least for a moment. Not because he is naked, he just stands out in a crowd.