Between 1992 to 1997 I was pretty much a geeky comic book t-shirt and jeans kind of guy. The odd sweater thrown over but not much else. I was working catering so I had “those clothes” (shudder) that would never see the light of day outside my apartment or wedding hall. When I started to work at the Black Eagle and met the oddball characters there, I was introduced into a whole new world of fashion.
When not stocking the fridges at the Eagle, I hung around with Andrew, arguably the most attractive bartender working there at the time. Andrew’s staple fashion statement was sleeveless flanel shirts and army boots. Think FoxTV’s version of a militant lesbian on a guy. He showed me the cheaper side of clothing shopping as only a vegetarian, agnostic mysenthrope could. I have a fond memory of digging into the bins at Goodwill’s “Buy the Pound”, where you rummaged through tons of bins, through piles of unsorted clothing and paid for your booty by the pound (duh!). 30 minutes into my first visit, Andrew taps me on the shoulder and says “Look at your hands.”
My fingertips were orange.
I flinch. I’ve been digging through sweaty, dirty cloth without even thinking about the crud that was sticking to my fingers like niccotene stains. Andrew produces a pair of rubber gloves from his pocket. He’s done this before. Dispite the grossness of it, you could walk away with some mighy cool rags.
“Don’t touch your ears or eyes until we get to a bathroom and you can wash your hands,” Andrew would warn after we left the Buy The Pound.
We would try to outdo each other by finding the most outrageous tees ever. But they had to have a vibe to them that if we were to wear them at the leather bar, people would “get” the sarcastic or ironic message they displayed. Or the shirts had to be so uber-macho, they’d elevate us to “hottie” status. Girl’s field hockey shirts, religious conferences and CAT construction shirts were primo. It was in this contest that I discovered my love for hockey jerseys. They represented a masculinity that I was denied as a kid (I had weak ankles and couldn’t skate worth beans) and became like a fetish for me. Intricate fantasies were weaved as I pulled the artifical cloth over my head and smoothed out over my torso. The bizzare-er the team logo, the better. At the height of this madness, I had a sweater per day and could go three weeks without repeating myself. My prize shirt was a Russian jersey the colours of Ronald McDonal’s 70’s advertising palate, with cyrillic lettering blazing across the chest.
This excessive devotion died off when I got my “business casual” job. I only have two left now. A mesh with a big “T” on it and a white, snug jersey that accents my belly nicely, like I should be on footballbigguns.com.
This summer, Sharkboy has jumped on the groovy trend of graphical tees. He’s cleaned out every store from Old Navy to American Eagle. His favorite is a fluffy hammerhead shark applique on a “bar” t-shirt that states he got “hammered” there. Cute!
Today, I’m at McDonalds (no comments please) and I’m wearing a shirt that Sharkboy’s picked out for me: a baby blue Sioux City Tractor Pull ’82 shirt. It’s a romantic nod to our night at Simcoe’s tractor pull. I’m stuck on a 3 letter word of “Nasty!”, middle letter “L”.
“Sioux City is af frellgnuh keptpl!”
I look up. He’s got a pony tail, black socks rising up out of his deck shoe sneakers, up to his knees, and 6 days of stubble on his jowly face. He points. “Sioux City!”
“Ah. I …uh… got this shirt…” How does one explain this trendy shirt to someone so unhip? (I’m being delicate)
He mumbles something too. We both realize at the same time that speaking to each other was probably a bad idea.
I’m sticking to my flaming Darth Vader tee.
UPDATE: This image just in from Andrew:
He remembered that I have a secret crush on Jon Erik…