Dad Shirt

I’ve written previously about how clothing can be more than just fashion, a bargain, or something that disguises how much weight you didn’t lose. Today I want to tell you about meeting up with an old friend.

I like to wear my clothes until they fall apart. This means I have a wardrobe with stuff that’s way past due on the fashion scene: bulky jackets with padded shoulders, pants so relaxed the fabric feels like a second skin, and shirts in patterns and cuts that are about as far as you can get from today’s mean silhouettes.

Alas, I wear Dad clothes: things that look better behind the wheel of a slow-moving sedan. I don’t own a sedan but I am a Dad, so I try to wear what I have with pride.

Today was unseasonably hot. Last October I packed packed my shorts and polo shirts away. The weather was perfect for the straw hat my wife got me back when such things were a cool hipster affectation. My vaguely pre-washed Dad blue jeans would at least blend in. Should I risk a T-shirt?

I went down to that place in my closet where forgotten things hang, and found the oldest shirt I own: a long-sleeved, cotton poly blended green, blue, white and off-white button down plaid that, who knows how many years ago, would look perfect in an office cubicle on casual Friday.

I bought it where I acquire many garments I’ve learned to love, in a used clothing store, because I didn’t have the money to buy shirts for full price. I never wore it in an office cubicle, but found that, with a tie and dark sport coat, I could wear it when I taught college. A slightly more interesting tie made the shirt appropriate for speaking engagements. With the color open, I could be a down-to-earth, writer-type at book signings. It washed easily, dried fast and didn’t wrinkle, so I could bring it along on overnights trips.

After so much loving use, the cotton fibers washed away, leaving only the polyester threads which were now so broken down that they were as soft as silk. Hold the shirt up to the light and what was solid cloth is now translucent. The air blows through it, cooling you as you wear it.

On a day so bright and cheery that people I met outdoors smiled for no reason. It felt good to be alive, to be outside with the dog, or just outside, feeling the sun on my face, a breeze moving around and through my shirt, my old friend, happy to be with me again.

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