T-shirts can tell a lot about people

Either I've gotten cheaper in my old age, or I've stopped going to notable places. If you need proof of that statement, it's as plain as the shirt on my back. T-shirt that is.

T-shirts have long been a walking billboard of sorts for the person in them. They advertise where we've been that's more fun than around here, thus making you jealous of the wearers whereabouts.

Or it's how we label ourselves as fans of this sports team or that rock band. We've bought them at concerts, tournaments or special events. Some T-shirts even tout our tendency to mark events with T-shirts. They're the ones that say, "Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt."

But I was noticing the other day, as I donned a shirt commemorating an event from five years ago, that my T-shirt supply has been dwindling. It was only recently that I tossed a T-shirt bought during a visit to Yankee Stadium — in 2002. Which means the shirt outlasted the stadium. It was torn down a few years ago to make way for the current version. But there has been no notable visit to anywhere this current summer to give me a replacement. 

Our son is halfway through college and my T-shirt drawer is still well stocked with reminders of activities and events from most every year of his high school days. Maybe I need a shirt that says, "College tuition has replaced T-shirt purchases."

Each shirt does tell a story though, for better or for worse. I have a T-shirt from a Jimmy Buffett concert that carries a few reminders. One is that their version of "XL" and mine are apparently two different things.

That's why this particular snug-fitting 2-year-old shirt looks as good as new. Secondly, this is the shirt that others describe perhaps a little differently than I would. You see, this is the one that I was told to, "Enjoy that #%*@ing T-shirt," by the lady (and I use that term loosely) behind me in line. She swears (literally) that I cut in front of her in line.
I still maintain I just found a quicker line than she did. Ah, memories. And finally, this shirt is a reminder that one is much more likely to shell out over twenty bucks for a T-shirt if the event it commemorates is preceded by hours of tailgating. That would at least partially explain why I own a Jimmy Buffett T-shirt and not one from the Dave Matthews Band.

One other revelation from checking out the T-shirt drawer is that I, like most people, will gladly take most any free shirt. That's why I own a shirt that identifies me as a "St. Cecilia Alumni," although I never attended the school. Or why I have a T-shirt from a local tattoo parlor which, trust me, is not being used to conceal any of their handy work.

And I have five shirts proclaiming my loyalty to my college alma mater and its sports teams. Didn't spend a dime on any of them. Unless you count the cost of a ticket on free T-shirt giveaway game days. That's not quite as steep of a price for yet another shirt in the drawer — I had to give up a pint of my blood for that one.

The lure of the free T-shirt can be a powerful draw. How many events have you seen publicized with the added incentive of a "free T-shirt" for the first 100 entrants? I maintain that most people who run marathons, or even shorter races, aren't in it for their health and well-being. They're just there for the T-shirt.

It becomes a "chicken or the egg" thing. Do I have T-shirts from five years of an Irish Festival in my wife's hometown because I volunteered to help? Or did I volunteer to help just to get the T-shirt?

All I know is if I'm going to slow down in buying T-shirts or going to places worthy of remembering through one, I should avoid those with dates on them. It might be time to retire shirts from events in the previous century. 

Now, about those polo shirts from three different employers.    

Russ Batenhorst

Don't expect to detect a common topic or theme in Russ Batenhorst's weekly column in the Hastings Tribune. Usually it's whatever slice-of-life observation pops into his head just in time to make the deadline for it to appear each Friday.

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