Dirty Shirt — blog 4 — 12.29.21

A dirty shirt that is too tight has the prospects of derailing my entire day. Why not just take the damn shirt off? A rational idea crosses the membrane of my neurons. But my neurotic mind volleys back like a gatling gun. The shirt was a gift from your wife who is sitting in the next room and will notice that you only wore the shirt for an hour. And more, it’s too tight because you’re fat (this is preposterous as my BMI is so low that it’s unhealthy and my chest consists of ribs and nothing else, yet somehow the damn shirt is tight around the chest and nowhere else. Who was this shirt designed for? A pear? …still I considered the retort). Just deal with the smell, other people deal with your smell.

I guess I am wearing this shirt all day. It’s uncomfortable and it smells. Was this shirt screen printed yesterday? Was it screen printed in a thrift shop?

I cannot escape the smell of the Salvation Army. Every used clothing item is cleaned or sprayed with the same pungent chemical. Monsanto has nothing on the Salvation Army. This is beyond Round Up, beyond DDT even. The US Army’s use of napalm is child’s play in comparison to the Salvation Army’s liberal use of cleaning supplies, but here’s the kicker – the Salvation Army doesn’t clean anything.

That smell has nothing to do with cleaning products. Your poor grandma – as opposed to your wealthy grandmother, well-off grandmother, or middle-class grandma – did not die in the back. She is not living in the back either, but it sure smells like it, like she’s there in the same dress (it’s very nice of us to call it a dress, muumuu or gown is more accurate, but we’re nice to grandma — she’s poor) eating those soft, pastel-colored candies that given this context one would be right to worry that grandma is eating moth balls by mistake. This smell is intentional, as hard as that is to believe. Someone consciously bottled an old-closet smell, then sprayed voluminous amounts of said chemical until the actual atmosphere of the thrift shop became the smell of near death, not death, but near it. On your way there, to death, very well knowing it was coming like a friend visiting. I am wearing it. Why?

I’m taking this shirt off.

I explained the smell to my wife. She looked at me like I was an idiot, like always. The shirt was from a thrift shop (or vintage shop, if you want to charge more by tricking people) and it did need to be washed. She washes all of her clothes before wearing them, just not the ones she buys for me and not the ones that she buys from thrift shops.

I once put a new, unwashed shirt on my newborn son. He had an allergic reaction and we had to take him to the pediatrician. But how did I learn the lesson of washing my shirts before wearing them? Not by nearly hospitalizing my son, by complaining about a smelly NC State shirt that was too tight.