I have a blue shirt that’s 12 years old. It’s unraveling, dissolving, and losing elections along with the rest of me. I don’t just keep it because it feels like the Shroud of Turin. I keep it because after I bought the shirt, one of two shirts, my then-roommate, a short insecure bodybuilder who sold cars at a casino, told me I wasted my money—he said this after purchasing a pointless $500 firearm. So I’ve always worn it as a kind of fuck-you to him. I don’t know why, it just gives me some strange satisfaction.
I’m a biweekly bather and normally don’t even both until I’ve had two cups of coffee, so I usually wake up and dawn my usual winter shell carefully piled on the floor from the night before. My skinny black pants and hoodie. And when I leave to face the cold, I slip on my black shoes and my long black coat. I’m one of those people who wears too much of the same color. But black doesn’t seem to bother people, it’s not like I’m wearing a neon green suit. If that’s your thing, go for it, I’m only saying that it’s distracting for everyone in non-neon.
I camped on the coast at the end of summer. It was the first time I’d taken acid, and from here on out I’ll only refer to it as my trip to the beach. I thought about my clothes a lot while I sat partially buried in the sand. Protection, I thought. A cell’s wall, my shell, my psychic cell wall—an aesthetic that could embrace the world’s slow turn.
My trip to the beach is only a micron of my clothing issues. Rapid and chaotic climate change isn’t the only reason I’ve recently purchased a pair of blue shorts. I grew up about an hour or so out of Mexico. I was running around my front yard, doing kid stuff, and I remember this because it was the first time I remember feeling shame for body; my next door neighbor, Erica, the girl with whom I’d later share matches of “Truth or Dare” that consisted only of dares and kisses, laughed at my pearl legs.
I typically wore pants after that. I wore shorts again on an outing with my youth group, an effort to help fix up people’s homes. We were standing around, drinking water and talking when someone pointed out the small benign tumor on the right of my right calf, beside the Tibia, and went on about how a botfly must have laid eggs there. I pretty much only wore pants after that.
I have four pairs of pants, but I only wear two of them. Loose bluejeans when it’s hot, black Levi’s when it’s cold. I’m practical. I’d wear black all year, but the global temperature isn’t going down. The other two pairs just sit in a dark drawer until laundry day.
Some people have almond fields, ancient forests, and menacing mountains of clothes cast all across their room, a closet full of shirts, dresses, hats, scarves, umbrellas, and bags. These people wake up and attempt ingenuity in how they want to express themselves, or they’re addicted to shopping. I’m not the opposite, but I am clearly quite basic: if my body stinks, I run water over it. If my hair is disheveled, I clumsily drag a clunky white comb through it. If the various proteins I’ve grown draw stares, I cut them.
I’ll admit, I do put a lot of money in my underwear and I’m serious about it because I tried Hanes, and it’s like wearing a tight, barbed cardboard box around the parts of me I love most, and while that might get some people off, it doesn’t do it for me. And I can’t wear boxers or free-ball because my body still behaves like it’s 13 years old.
I pull my pants on both of my legs at once, using my bed as an aid. You can do it too, it’s so simple I’m not going to explain it because those of us who know, know what to say when people give us that cliché “one leg at a time” piss. I’m just bullshitting—I put my pants on head-first.
Some people have the misconception that black doesn’t stain, it does (semen or milk), and anything lighter in color sticks out too (dandruff and crumbs). That’s really the only problem there is—other than heat absorption.
One winter when I still smoked, I took my last break, went out and buried my ass in the concrete for a smoke. I finished my last two hours of work, clocked out and made my usual good-byes. I took the bus five minutes down the road and walked two blocks home before I realized I’d ripped the entire ass out of my pants. I’m glad I had nice underwear on.