Encore: The case of the printed t-shirt

Encore: The case of the printed t-shirt

I have, for some time now, been toying with the idea of writing a column about printed t-shirts. I am talking about the very clever ones; the not-so-clever ones; the ones that speak the gospel according to its proud wearer; the ones that burble pearls of wisdom; and of course the ones that are just downright stupid, and to crown it all, worn by the most inappropriate person.

Let me start with the latter: I live near Kenilworth Centre. Everyone familiar with the mall? If not, let me give you a reference: I used to live on Cavendish Street in Claremont. My “corner store” there was Cavendish Square. I hated it. It was full of pretentious people who either could afford those expensive items at the expensive shops, or it would be full of wanna-be pretentious ones who aspired to buy the expensive items at the expensive shops. Either way, they were not my kind of people. And, while I occasionally do shop at Woolworths, it is not my daily retail jaunt. So, I moved to Kenilworth – where I can at least s-h-o-p! The shops to choose from: Shoprite-Checkers, Game, Pick ‘n Pay – that sort of lay person’s shop. And, as the saying goes – you gets (sic) what you pay for, so the people are also very Shoprite-y, Checkers-y, Ackermans-y type people. And now you may very well ask: whatever do you mean?
Are you not being racist or classist or some other –ist? Yes, I am. And I am okay with it.

At least I am calling a bitch a spade (sic). The point is: I shop with people who look like me and who are as brown, green, yellow and white as the earth! And I feel at home!
But some of them boast the most peculiar t-shirts. And one is not always sure if they have their tongues in their cheeks as they wear the shirts, or if they really mean it.
Either way, here is a judicious reminder: discretion is the better part of valour… (Is that how the saying goes?)
Some of the t-shirts that caught my eye said things like: “I am the guy your mother warned you about” – as worn by one of the most unfortunate-looking guys on God’s green earth.

And I walk by, wondering: do you mean that in a sexual sense? Are you telling me you might be a rapist or a murderer, a pick-pocket or a burglar? Or, are you merely telling me you are a “naughty” rascal and getting involved with you would be a mistake – something he believes is exactly what women want?
Another t-shirt proudly proclaims: “This is what perfection looks like.” This, in a bright green, stretched (and I mean stretched) cotton with thick black writing on it. Again, worn by a similar unfortunate-looking guy (perhaps even the same one, who knows?). No, can’t be. This one sports a well-developed, flabby beer belly. If his tongue’s in his cheek it would be funny.
But somehow I get the feeling that is not his intention. Perhaps he is referring to his perfected belly? For, if one were in the market for one of those, then his would certainly be a model to aspire to.
Then there are the funny ones like: “Step aside coffee, this is a job for alcohol!” Or the one that asks: “What in the f#ck is this?” (With an arrow pointing towards a picture of Michael Jackson –RIP – after all the plastic surgery.)

Or how about this one: “I only drink on days that start with the letter ‘T’: Tuesday, Thursday, today, tomorrow, Thunday!” And there are endless drinking t-shirts like: “If found, return to the nearest pub.” Or, how God created beer on the eighth day etc etc. They are pretty boring.
Then there are the serious ones that speak the gospel or that spurt out the pearls of wisdom about love and God and Jesus, or quotes from famous people about love, and God and Jesus. I can’t decide which ones are more boring – these or the drinking ones.
The one that took the cake for me was when we were invited to a very formal 21st birthday party about a year or so ago.
One of the (quite rotund) catering ladies was marching up and down with samoosas and pies (and what not) in her hands between the kitchen and the serving area, with guests already seated at the tables, proudly wearing a bright canary-yellow t-shirt that simply said in big bold blue letters: “Go f#ck yourself!” Gotta love it!

Email: rafiek@mweb.co.za