Check out my HEMI

The sound is better than any piece of ass you'll ever have.

Friday, November 02, 2007

My Better Half

Last Saturday night I discovered something about myself. The something that was discovered turned out to be a positive attribute, I suppose, but the positive attribute is unfortunately tied to a man-made object. By "man-made object" I really do mean "man-made object" because machines that once produced these objects were set to produce other objects instead of this one a long time ago. Also, I doubt that any females have crafted one of them in the recent years, at least in the style mine was in. As you may have inferred from keywords like Halloween and style, I'm talking about an article of clothing that once was, if not common, unsurprising to encounter. I can't be sure of the time period of its glory, but without research and going solely on the memory of my adolescence - where admit it or not, everyone American, at least, is most keenly aware of fashion appropriate to their their contemporaries out of fear of being ridiculed or physically harmed - the half-shirt era was completely over in the heterosexual community by 1990. By then, if you were, say, a thirteen year-old lad, trying to light a poorly rolled joint, sitting on a fallen tree trunk on the trails in the woods by the paper company down the street from his house, you would be so confused by the sight of an approaching older guy with longish hair, a sleazy mustache, and wearing a half-shirt, you wouldn't know what to think. Too showy to be straight, to scraggly to be gay, and who knows if the dude's dangerous or not. Yet just six years before, that hypothetical older dude in the woods would have surely been greeted with fear, or caution at the very least.

Where have you gone, half-shirt? Even in the athletic apparel section of thrift stores, you are nowhere to be found. Perhaps the more interesting question is "Where did you come from?" At the tender age of thirty, I am far too young to answer this. My earliest memories of half-shirts are likely from its high point. When my family moved from southeast Michigan to southwest Michigan in the summer of '84, half-shirts were everywhere. Music videos featured rockers and rappers alike wearing a tee-shirt truncated on both the sleeves and the, um, trunk. Perhaps a wrapped bandanna was worn on the head along with it. On the football field, wearing a jersey that exposed the abdominal region was extremely common, especially among the more brash players on certain teams (Miami, Florida State, etc...). And yes, tough older guys with mustaches who smoked cigarettes, drank cans of beer, and scored with awesome chicks in the woods down the street from your house also sometimes wore half-shirts. But when did this start? When did this now strange article of clothing first come into existence, expressing the extreme machismo of those fit to wear it? Was someone at a gym somewhere, pumping iron in a poorly ventilated room, and just needed some more air down there? If I had to guess, I would say it all started with some guy who wore sleeveless "muscle" shirts, but wanted to separate himself from everyone else that did as well. "Fuck it.", he said, out came the scissors, and off went a two inch wide band on the bottom.

The half-shirt era is not forgotten. Fans of "Wet Hot American Summer" - of whom I am one - are familiar with a magical scene near the end of the movie where the "Coop" character walks in the camp cabin where the talent show is being held, dressed completely different due to his new attitude after having been taught "The New Way" earlier. The new confidence and masculinity is reflected in his clothes, which included a headband and wristband. But the real centerpiece was the half-shirt. At some point last week I abandoned my initial plan of going as a federal employee (badly fitting suit, white socks, white sneakers, and a badge tucked into the shirt pocket) in favor of "The New Way" version of myself, but I did it. And I don't think I ever looked better.

I arrived at a party hosted by a girl formerly known as my special lady friend in a sweatshirt and warm-up pants so that I wouldn't feel uncomfortable on the bus ride up. I saved that discomfort for the party, which when I arrived was made up of just five girls and one guy. My date was not there yet, so I had some snacks and chatted. I knew all but one of the girls and had no idea who the guy was. He appeared to be older - close to forty - and was dressed in an assortment of garments that somehow collectively were supposed to represent "the red death". The following conversation occurred between us at approximately 9:30PM:

"Hey, so how do you know these girls?"
"Oh, I used to date Laura."
"Oh, OK, which Laura?"
"The Laura who lives here."
"That's funny, I'm actually currently dating I guess I'm the new you!"
"Uh, yeah, I guess...or you could say 'I'm the old you'."

We laughed uncomfortably about the awkwardness of the situation.

"Sorry, it's a bit uncomfortable for me to be meeting you when I'm dressed like this.", I said. "Not nearly as much as it is for what do you do when you're not working out?"


I did the only thing my instincts told me to do between that point and the arrival of my date: drink heavily. Later the new me's friends came by, sans costume. I was a little uncomfortable still, but the alcohol was working and I was actually starting to get used to wearing the half-shirt. The women seemed to really like it. There were lots of compliments at that party and the one that I went with my date to next. But the one I remember most clearly came from one of the new me's friends at the liquor table:

"You know man, I love your costume, because as ridiculous as it looks now, people really did used to dress like that."

Maybe I was born to rock a half-shirt, but unlike "the dude" in "The Big Lebowski", I'm just not the man for my time and place.

Current conditions: altitude: 35,000 ft, temperature: -67 degrees F, speed: 596 mph
Position: due south of Keflavik, on the tip of a peninsula off southern Iceland, 957 from final destination - London, UK.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

Older Posts