We all have that one shirt that we fall in love with so much that we never want to throw it out. Doesn’t matter if it’s a concert shirt or a sports shirt or a gifted one, we become attached to it like a clingy high school lover. Never mind how fat you grow or how faded and ugly the shirt gets. You form a weird connection with it and hope that it will stay in your life forever and ever. Kind of like a super hero costume made just for you, stained by memories made by you, remembered by the times you spent in it.
As it turns from old to Jurassic old, your friends get tired of it. Your mom thinks it’s a germ zoo and an eye sore that needs to be terminated. Your siblings get fed up of mocking the shirt. Even the dog finds it too gross to chew it up. You hold on to it like a clingy girlfriend. I think it should be called the favorite T- shirt syndrome.
Why exactly do we like these shirts? Well, apparently for no logical reasons. I liked mine because it doubled up as a muffler cum blanket if you stretched it enough. Never mind, in the end, it became loose enough for an elephant to wear & my mother gave me the stinky eye every time she saw it. The reasons we love these shirts are as weird as who we are.
‘I will never give you up, baby.’
Moms generally have the most spite for a disgusting favorite shirt. It is almost like the sight of it switches on some protective switch inside them & they go all “I will protect my family from this” mode. No matter what logic, they present, you just can’t throw the favorite shirt out. You defend it from siblings who want it out of your wardrobe, friends who are fed up of having pictures with you in the same shirt & from moms who want to destroy it & salvage its remains for a rag cloth or some crafts experiment. You get the familiar comfy feeling and you just don’t want to give it up no matter how impoverished you look in it.
I remember my cousin brother had a shirt so old that it turned colors like a prehistoric rock from black to dull maroon to finally grey with tiny holes at the edges, which he claimed served as wear-on air conditioners in the tropical summer heat. My brother loved it and wore it almost every other day with pride no matter how hard we tried to convince him to let it go. It was growing smaller in size too. One day we were all beating up the shirt again. His mom wanted to turn it into ‘Ghar Ka Poncha’, a rag in the Indian household for wiping anything and everything at home. My cousin sisters and I wanted it for playing tug of war with our dog Crusoe who should have been named ‘nakky’, malayalam slang for someone who licks things off. He licked everything, everyone and anything.
Wary of the predatory eyes on his favorite shirt, my brother quickly darted for the door. However his shirt got stuck in the door knob thanks to one of the zillion tiny holes it had. We grabbed the piece that was still hanging by our side of the room and pulled on it and turned him into a human spindle. Mom came to the rescue and salvaged the remaining half of the shirt for her rag cloth collection. Thus ended the legacy of the most ancient family T-shirt. It was soon replaced by a green one by my brother. It sort of had a weird lemon green tint by the end of the 5th year. No matter what you do, the curse of the favorite shirt seems to stay in the family. We just don’t know who holds the record for the most ancient shirt in the family now. Some day, when the drinks spill, the secrets will spill too.
‘I rock in this!’
After nagging for ages, my aunt plotted for the final retirement of my uncle’s favorite shirt with the house maid. “We’ll use this for mopping. And then he will stop wearing it.” They Thought. If only they were right. He wore it nearly everyday. It was like almost like a uniform. It’s hard to remember our uncle without it, kind of like Jughead’s cap in Archies. Some of the neighbors started passing comments on the ancient, impoverished looking shirt and my aunt tried in vain to stop uncle from wearing it. Returning home in the evening, my uncle unaware of the work his shirt had done during the day, found it, pulled it off from the kitchen rack and happily lounged in front of the TV. My aunt and the maid looked dejectedly at the foiled attempt. ‘Why won’t you throw it out?’ They thought as they thought of new strategy. The second oldest T-shirt in the family survived that day and was with my uncle till his demise. It retired along with his other belongings we kept safe in his wardrobe after he passed away.
‘I hate growing up!’
I had one favorite shirt of my own as a little kid. At first the attachment was cute and sweet. Soon like any other favorite shirt, it was annoying and illogical. I had grown fat and the shirt had shrunk small. I refused to accept that I was growing fat and too big for it. No matter how hard my mother tried, I always found it and brought it back in my wardrobe. One day, a cousin visited and we were talking while some neighborhood kids were playing in the field. One of the little girls had a shirt exactly like mine.
“You know I had one blue shirt just like that. Got it on my 7th birthday” I said. “This looks exactly like the one I have, even the doodles with the pen I made looks the same.”
“That’s because, it is your shirt, you idiot.”
Smart mummy had given it off to the neighbor’s kid who actually did fit in it. I still have a few favorite shirts on me that I hide in my wardrobe.
You can’t exactly put a finger on one specific reason that makes you attached to some T-shirts. On days when you just want be yourself without giving a fuck to anything, you can just slide into your shirt and feel super awesome again. You just feel like ‘you’ with it. It is like comfort food. You get the ‘I can pull this off anytime’ feeling with that shirt.
There should be a favorite shirt day. A day when you can wear your most favorite shirt, no matter how hideous, or faded or war torn it looks. Heck! I think everyday should be a favorite T-shirt day. No judgment. No regrets. No angry moms or girl friends. Just worn out favorite T-shirts everywhere. Just a simple celebration of the shameless and beautiful comfort one has in one’s own choice everyday. Met anybody else lately with the favorite T-shirt Syndrome?