This is another from The T-Shirt Project. Another I couldn't see fall into the blackness of the the internet forever.
When: junior in high school
Where: salvation army thrift store
Why: I've never told the story of this shirt because it's really a confession and I fear that it may shake me off of the great white horse so many have put me on.
I "procured" it as a Junior in High School. I was in the Salvation Army Thrift Store checking out old man pants when I saw a guy stuff a shirt in his pocket and walk out the door. I thought "What is the point of that?" But it got me to pondering why some people are motivated to steal needless junk at all__ this was the time when all of those celebrities were getting busted for shoplifting_ and ultimately I wanted to see just what this thing was about. So I found the cheapest shirt that I could ($1) that I kind of liked (I always wanted to go to UCSB) because I didn't want to cause real damage, it was only an experiment, but if I was going to get in trouble for this it had better be for soemthing that was worth it. I also grabbed two other shirts and two pairs of slacks to make the situation less obvious. I went into the filthy dressing room with my heart pounding up into my head because I knew I was going to do this and I was sure that the old lady at the counter knew it too. I put the shirt on under my sweater and stood there for a while. After gathering the courage, I left the dressing room, went back through the isles putting the other clothes away, and walked out the door. It was easy.
The result: feeling extremely stupid.
I guess people like pulling something over on someone and pulling one over on a charity results in anticlimax. I wanted to right the wrong, so the next day I dropped off a grocery bag of clothes I never wore. But I couldn't return the shirt. It would have meant releasing the ultimate symbol of my idiocy back out into the world. So I buried it in my closet and still have it 17 years later.
It follows me everywhere I move and through all the stages of my adult life. I've tried to wear it a couple of times but it's shorter than it should be, tight under the arms, and the fabric is rough and stiff. I'll likely never throw it away. Maybe one day my wife will lift me of the burden while I'm at work. I pulled it out of the back corner of my bottom drawer just to take the picture.