Outdoor Junkie

We all have one; that old tee shirt from a concert, or the free one we scored at a trade show that stays with us for decades because it’s just such a classic. Yeah, we love that shirt. Photo: @sedatcakir / unsplash

The Inertia

“10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2…” Shit, I just spilled my drink, my chili, and about everything else all over my prized T-Shi- “1! Happy New Year!”

I continued on drinking and having more more stuff spilled on my shirt as I jumped and danced my way into 2018. It didn’t matter because I had fun.

Fast forward several hours and as I am resting on my couch, piecing the night together and nursing one hell of headache, I hear my wife say, “Hey I have an idea. Let’s do some cleaning. It’s the start of a new year so let’s clean all the junk out of our closet that we don’t need.” My response was the typical of what you’d expect from a guy with a hangover:

“Uhh, what?” Honestly, I just want to sit and stare at the TV, not look into the bright sunlight, and not move.

Outside it’s cold and sunny and there are waves and I know the snow is pretty good. But I cannot motivate myself to either surf or ski, so I’m certainly not going to be eager to get up and clean my house.

“Start with this,” she says. “You can throw this one out.” Even with a pounding headache and bloodshot eyes I can see she has one of my favorite shirts in her talons. It’s the one from last night with stuff spilled all over it and now desperately needs cleaning. Note, I try not to wash it too much too keep it as intact as possible at this age. I even met my wife while wearing this shirt. Remember, the more you wash it the more it wears out and more chances of wearing out the magic. It is worn, it is classic and I love it. And that crazy women wants to toss it. I jump from the couch as if the hangover had instantly disappeared and grabbed it from her.


As I talk my wife off the ledge with a promise to wash it, I’ve given one of my prized shirts a stay of execution.

Now, this is a silly story for sure, but it’s all true. And it got me to think about all the shirts, hats, and trinkets that I have — or as I my wife says, “Shit Chris Has Collected.” It doesn’t matter if your passion is surfing, skiing, or whatever, each little piece of schwag you collect has a memory and a feeling associated with it. It might be ratty or broken down, it might be stained, and it might even smell. But it does have a story. And it has a vibe.

Think of all the times you’ve been dragged out and coerced into going to some party full of pretentious assholes when all you really wanted to do was chill on the couch. Inevitably, you give in. You figure if you’re going,  you’ll wear something that makes you feel good, speaks a message about you, serves as an icebreaker to strangers, or all of the above. So you put on that Million Dollar Cowboy Bar tee or that shirt from that surf hostel you stayed at in Taghazout or New Zealand. Or maybe it was simply the ratty snapback cap given to you at a trade show or the cheapo branded sunglasses you scored and ironically never lost, because we all know we only lose expensive sunglasses. Having these mementos with you always seem to make you feel good and they usually serve as a solid conversation opener. And if you’re single it can be a strategic advantage to meeting that special someone, given the right crowd. The point is, that old ratty shirt says something about you without ever needing to open your mouth. And that’s part of why you love it so much.

So here I am on New Year’s Day 2018, looking at a pile of shirts thrown on the floor. Each has a memory and a story. I find one or two that do genuinely look like crap and say to my wife “Hey, I found a few I can toss.”

To make it look like I tossed out even more, I add a few sweaters from past Christmases and birthdays. Next, I take my ratty classic t-shirts and place them carefully in the back of the closet, hidden behind suit jackets that I never wear. New Year’s Day cleaning complete. Problem solved. Crisis overted.

Every shirt has a story.


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