In fact, I have other shirts like it. Though, for sentimental reasons, I’ve kept this shirt around.
As far as other shirts go, I have a Lacoste shirt that I love more than life itself. This shirt’s going on 10 years old, at least. I venerate it so much that it recently has been retired to a portion of my closet whereby, essentially, I just worship it. It just sits there. It doesn’t do anything. I don’t where it anymore. I want to preserve it, like a fossil resting in amber. I might tour people past it. No one’s allowed to touch it; no one’s even allowed look at it; I get all “Nigel” on people; “That’s it, you’ve seen enough of that one, don’t even look at it. We’re done here.” It’s maybe the best shirt Lacoste ever made. I’ve been tempted to contact the company in some capacity—a nice letter, maybe a phone call—to ask them if it’s possible to re-produce the shirt (so I can buy a few more pairs for backup). I’ve done things like this before, however. Unfortunately it doesn’t work. For instance, at say Banana Republic and J. Crew I’ve politely complained about their attire and the short-sleeves that are too short (it’s a terrible style that was introduced in the early 2000s which has mysteriously persisted over the years). I’ve asked common workers—well-intentioned but befuddled people—to pass on my message and that’s as far as I’ve taken it. The message being: Go ahead and continue the super short-sleeves, which I’ll never buy, but you should also include a group of short-sleeve shirts with normal longer sleeves, as an alternative option. Nothing came of it. (Common floor workers don’t have any clout. They should, they hear important feedback, but they don’t. Instead, without knowing the word on the street, the “Halston of the day” keeps ruining short-sleeve shirts for all humanity.)
If only I were racquetball friends with Tim Gunn; we would really change things up. (We’d start with small talk. He’d say things like, “You know, I got a speeding ticket the other day; not happy. I wasn’t driving; I had an Uber ride; but when I’m in the car I feel like I’m driving.” Then we’d move onto the real important matters of the day, which, first and foremost, include providing a short-sleeve longer sleeve option for all brands. I imagine he might confide with me important information: “You know, Shane, I sympathize with what you’re saying, and, in all honesty, I agree with you. However, to try and change the short-sleeve industry can ruin a career. If I push too hard I’m afraid I could be marooned on a small island like Napoleon. At this point in my life I just can’t do that; I’ve really started to get into Whole Foods and I’m very active in the local Fair-Trade coffee movement. Also, there’s a baby gorilla I’ve had my eye on for adoption and it’s not a good idea to move an animal like that to new—unfamiliar—surroundings...like, you know, a small island.” After that we might delve into ideas on how to end pollution, which would benefit the well-being of polar bears, but I really want to focus my relationship with Tim Gunn on the issue of fixing short-sleeve shirts once and for all; enough is enough!)
The end result is the following: To find short-sleeve shirts with normal longer sleeves I have to find “old man stores” like JoS. A. Bank and Brooks Brothers. Whatever, they have better things anyway.
Back to the shirt in question. For all intents and purposes, I’ve benched it. It has been relegated to the bench, with an occasional appearance as a sleep-shirt. The greater issue is that I don’t want it benched. I want it up and running. Out and about. In the game. Putting points on the board. Sometimes it looks at me like it wants to go in. I’m like, “You wanna do what? Brother, you’ve got two ACL surgeries, a broken ankle, a bad hamstring, arthritis, three concussions, a sprained wrist, and you’re at the scorer’s table talkin’ bout ‘you wanna go in?’ Have you lost your mind?”
There’s no picture of it, I’m too lazy for that. It’s white. It’s a dress shirt. What else do you need? Just imagine a shirt: It has long sleeves, a pocket on the left side of the chest, a collar, some buttons. I love it so much. Imagine this: Back in the late 90s, in my apartment in Oakland—right near Emeryville, right near the water, right near Pixar, right near the International Food Café (or whatever it was called), right near Borders (back when they were around), right near the train station, right near a bunch of homeless people waiting around practically every corner, right near Cal Berkeley’s campus—I wore this shirt (or a shirt just like it; go with me here, I forget), and a pair of khakis, barefoot, and, let me tell you something: I felt like a poet. I may not have been one, but I felt like one. Move past my board game drawings, a book by Graham Hancock, VHS tapes from Blockbuster consisting of The Cannonball Run, Better Off Dead, The Toy, to name a few, and you’d find my computer. The CDs played on my computer mainly consisted of Al Green’s Greatest Hits, Blind Willie McTell, Van Cliburn’s Greatest Hits, and a James Bond compilation album (which is simply the best).
This shirt is so done. But I can’t get rid of it. I’ve turned into Mr. Mom. I’m pathetically holding onto this shirt. I’ve been places with it—it’s been there and done that. It’s so versatile, too. You can wear this shirt with anything. It’s the perfect length for untucked. It’s, you know, it’s my best friend…if it could talk, I guess; obviously it can’t talk. I wore this shirt at my restaurant; I wore it with ties; I waited on customers with it, and served beer and wine. I kissed a lady for the first time with this shirt; not for the first time ever, I meant with her. I’d wear this shirt around the house and feel like everything was normal. You could play a backyard football game with this shirt while you could also sit down with the king of a country and come across as extremely normal. I robbed a bank in this shirt. All right, I didn’t do that, but I feel like I could’ve. And they probably would’ve let me get away with it, cause of the shirt. “Look at this normal looking shirt,” one teller might’ve said. “You don’t see a robber do that every day; just let him get away with it; it’s not like I’m gonna lose any money anyway.”
This shirt is holding on. It’s hanging in there. Who made it? The Gap, actually. They finally got something right. In fact, that’s a fair and unfair thing to say. It’s fair because today The Gap sucks. There’s no way around it. Having said that, back in the day, i.e., the early 90s, The Gap rocked and rest assured you could get quality stuff there. Keep in mind, I got this shirt at The Gap over twenty years ago. This situation has history, it goes way back. Plato said Atlantis was destroyed over night, essentially. Legend has it that some survivors spread out around the globe in an attempt to re-establish the civilization they once knew. I wouldn’t have traveled with those survivors, as I would’ve been too busy trying to find my shirt. Maybe I would’ve caught up with them later, in Peru or wherever, to begin the process of building huge stone monuments, the likes of which had never been seen before, monuments that would eventually confuse and marvel archaeologists in the modern era, but then again, who knows. All I know is that I would’ve found that shirt somewhere in the rubble of ancient Atlantis with a convoy of survivors in little boats nearby saying, “C’mon man, let’s go already.” It’s said that Pee Wee Herman moved heaven and earth to find his bike, his beloved bike. Don’t you dare take my shirt, cause I’ll travel the earth looking for it. Then they’ll make a movie about it and I’ll be like, “I don’t need to see it. I lived it.”
This shirt has been there and done that, and it’s not going anywhere. For now anyway. We’ll see.