Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sweet T-Shirts

This girl in my section at school is selling section t-shirts. I don't want to buy one. The fact is, I realized, that I just don't wear t-shirts anymore. I haven't bought one since college really, and those don't fit too well now. Unless you count a Yadier Molina jersey as a t-shirt, I have absolutely none in my closet here in Norman.

But, this t-shirt offer started the gears working in my mind. You see, there was a time when t-shirts weren't only what you wore, but they defined you. This was in sixth grade. We wore uniforms to school (the habit stuck with me apparently---I've currently been wearing the pants I'm in now all week) but the first Friday of every month was "free dress day," and all the boys were frenzied about wearing their new t-shirts to school. Maybe this was just me growing up against a backdrop of lameness, but I feel like these brands were pretty nationwide.

No Fear was what started it all for me. I would scurry with excitement on the day I knew my mom was taking me to the mall to get a new No Fear shirt. My first and favorite one said "Bottom of the Ninth...Two Outs...Full Count...Down By Three...Bases Loaded...No Fear." I can't quite remember the others at this point, but I think another said "You Miss 100% of the Shots You Don't Take." They were quite the words of wisdom to pass along, on the level of Socrates or Confucius, really abstract axioms to ponder while sitting on the bench in the dugout, chomping on David's Salsa flavored sunflower seeds. (Flavor Ranking of Goodness: 1:BBQ, 2:Ranch, 3:Regular, 4:Salsa).

Then there was Mossimo. Mossimo was my second go-to shirt--overall they seemed a bit more exotic, more artistic statements than No Fear. No Fear was the no-bones, American, Rocky inspiring type of motivational shirt. Mossimo had a finer European coolness to it. First, you had to figure out what it was. Like this shirt, for example. OK, got it, it's a gasoline container in the shape of an "M". Second, you had to assume that such a picture was cool even though intuition told you it made no sense. If someone told you it was a stupid logo, they just obviously didn't get it.

Ah, the "Big Johnson" shirts. You didn't mess with a person wearing something like this. They always had cartoon depictions of hot girls not wearing any clothes. The kid who played first base on my little league team always came to practice in these. I don't think I ever fully "understood" the slogans on the back of the shirts, I just had an inner sense that whoever wore these had some better and more developed knowledge about girls than I did, and also that my mom probably wouldn't let me wear one. If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times---a junior high kid wearing a Big Johnson shirt was the 6th grade equivalent of Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction who's wallet said "Bad Mother Fucker" on it. These guys were simply in another league.

Stussy. Always seemed a bit too "surfer-ey." I can proudly say I never went down this path.

Starter jackets---recess at school was a blur of flashy colors when everyone wore these things. Basically it boils down to this: a 6th grade kid picks his starter jacket based on the best logos (always some guy who just had to get the Notre Dame jacket because of the leprechaun, or some cat who suddenly became a Florida State fan because he thought the jacket was cool). OR, you could pick your jacket based on the color-scheme (I always thought the kid with the Auburn jacket had a cool one) OR people would just get whoever the best teams were (Dallas Cowboys, Michigan Wolverines (come on!!!! Michigan Wolverines?!?! lame...)) I had an Orlando Magic jacket because I thought Shaquille O'Neal was the greatest back in the day. That was when he was sometimes referred to as "Shaq Diesel" and had a rap album out. (If I have ever added the suffix "-diesel" to your name, this is where I am coming from. Like "Garz-Diesel.") So what I am trying to say is you had 40 boys running around in colorful jackets like a gay parade and no one had any idea what they were actually wearing, which seems to apply to any of these shirts I have listed.
Because I'm 25 now and not 12, I'll just stay cool by wearing the Yadi jersey.


Ousizch said...
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Sam said...

I had the same "bottom of the ninth..." shirt as a kid and a Chicago Bulls starter jacket.

I also had a shirt that read "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the FIGHT in the dog!"

Ironically, I wore it while getting beat up by kids smaller than me.

(j/k, that's more tragic than ironic.)

Danny said...

Another awesome article, J! I actually remember kids on my baseball teams wearing those Big Johnson shirts. I actually understood what they meant even as a little kid...but I still knew that if you had on a Big Johnson shirt you and I weren't going to be friends. In fact the same holds true with those bros in Affliction T shirts. I'm actually pretty sure the same dudes who wore big Johnson shirts wear Affliction shirts now that they're all grown up....which is convenient because both shirts immediately announce "I'm a douche bag! You don't wanna' be friends with me!"