You really find out how many clothes you have when you get a washer-dryer. Jackson has at least twenty pairs of underpants because up until last month I could never get our laundry to over to Launderland more than once a week, so we had to have extra everything. Thousands of pairs of socks; hundreds of towels; there’s not even a number funny enough to describe how many turtleneck sweaters I own. Of course, now that we have the cutest, tiniest, stackablest washer and dryer, we all get to experience the joy of little loads of warm clean clothes almost every day. But there was a time when I needed fifty-dozen rock t-shirts to make it through the retail work-week, and now that I don’t it’s time for round two of It Went To Salvation Army!!
Hank Wangford is this country-and-western act that came through Edinburgh when I was a student there in 1985, and I was so besotted with the idea of some English guy with wang in his name trying to sound like Bill Monroe that I spent my last three pounds on this fine piece of memorabilia. I probably wore it about six times, and then carried it from apartment to apartment, stuffed into one Hefty bag after another, for twenty years. The front says “Hankie Goes to Holyrood” — get it? If you don’t get it, I don’t want to explain it to you, apart from the fact that Holyrood is the name of both a house and a park in Edinburgh. Which is in Scotland. Ever hear of it? Good. You had me worried there for a second.
Yup, that’s the back.
I loved this shirt, but I bought an XL because I was in my awkward post-punk, mid-feminist bodyhiding period. Later, when I moved into my slightly less awkward, better-posture, post-pregnancy, body-showing period, all the big-ass t-shirts went to the back of the drawer. I went to this bar, McGovern’s, my last night in NYC before moving to California; a guy I’d slept with very intensely for about two weeks was playing that night, and for some reason — some badly constructed ideas about closure, perhaps — I brought my new boyfriend to see intense-two-week guy’s band play. Everyone was underwhelmed with each other. It was also the last time I saw my friend John (Hi, John!) — John and I once wrote a song that I still have on tape somewhere, and we called it “Fuck You, Michelle” because at the time John was mad at his brother’s girlfriend, whose name was . . . Michelle! I played alto sax on that one. God, I’m so talented, you had no idea, did you? It’s true.
I love this little drawing on the pocket — “glug glug.” But not enough to keep the t-shirt around for another fourteen years.
Vintage Denver pie shop; the t-shirt is circa 1983. My friend Brian gave this to me after high school graduation because we used to go to the House of Pies after the movies and talk about stuff and eat pie. I remember once we went there and I just ordered coffee and Brian got some coffee and a piece of pie, but he stopped eating his pie about halfway through, and while we talked, every once in awhile he’d nudge his pie plate a quarter of an inch toward me, just to see how close it would have to get to me before I’d give in and start eating his food. (Hi, Brian!) I think he probably performed this little experiment several times before I finally started noticing.
This is the real reason Brian gave me the shirt. I never ordered the Barvarian pie. I wonder if the person who made this t-shirt saw Conan the Barbarian and then someone told him that the movie’s star was from Bavaria, and then it all became charmingly mixed up on this strangely tapered beige t-shirt that I never wore but, again, carried around for twenty-plus years because I thought Brian would be hurt if he found out that I didn’t frame it or something.
I went to Bread Loaf, laid in the grass and tried to relax, went to readings and mocked other people’s poetry, and when it was all over I bought this giant green t-shirt. One night there was going to be a party and some of the students were talking about it in the parking lot and Tim O’Brien looked over at me and shouted, “Hey! Make sure you forget to wear a bra!” I went back to my room instead and probably wrote a tortured poem about having a bladder infection. Good times.
I should have sold this one on eBay. I know it doesn’t look like much, but it was handmade by the very own hands of Internet Superstar Sarah Brown. It fit, too. (Here I am wearng it.) I’m sure some blogfan would probably have paid top dollar for a Sarah B. iron-on original from the old orange-template days.
My wildest, fondest hope is that someday someone will pick up one of these shirts at the Salvation Army and then whimsically turn to Google to find out more about it, and they’ll find my post, and they’ll get in touch and tell me how my old t-shirt is doing, and maybe send me a picture of themselves wearing the shirt and throwing up in front of a national monument or something. Best-case scenario.