Clipping in with barber-shop thoughts on T-shirts
There may be times when the global situation appears so dire, and the self so powerless, but the world is still full of tiny moments of grace
I was sitting in the local barber shop the other day, ageing gracefully, while my young son had a complex, time-consuming hairdo. The cut involved close shaves and delicately crafted lines etched into his skull until he began to look like a miniature silver-scarred warrior.
President Barack Obama was giving a press conference on the flat-screen television mounted on the wall next to the barber’s chair – he was on mute, which did nothing to lessen the seriousness of his tone – and someone in the shop was talking about triskaidekaphobia.
Now if you are reading this from the depths of your mouldering bed, cocooned in that duck-down duvet that has seen better days, you probably already know that triskaidekaphobia is fear of the number 13.
And when the 13th falls on a Friday, like today, there are those among us who are so cauterised by dread that they are afraid to step a lilywhite foot on to the floorboards.
I wholly sympathise, although personally I couldn’t give a damn what date or day it is. But, man, there are times when the global situation appears so dire, and the self so powerless, you just want to bury your head under the sheets.
I decided to think about something else. T-shirts sprang to mind.
I’m referring to those T-shirts bearing hearty catchphrases and smatterings of flaccid wit that some of us insist on stretching over our D cups and moobs.
Blame the recent sunshine; blame the abandoning of layers of woolly jumpers that usually act as a barrier between one’s delicate vision and other people’s slogan-emblazoned chests, but it feels as if T-shirts have been screaming like a squall of bats ever since the snow melted.
Most T-shirt statements are simply irritating, as in the “I’m With Stupid” variety that somehow still seems to attract purchasers; others are more esoteric and demand attention for longer, despite the fact that the wearer is now yards away. “My Mother is a Travel Agent for Guilt Trips” was one that had me walking into a lamp-post; another, which I did quite like, at least lent an air of bold confidence to the wearer: “We Are What We Eat – I’m Fast, Cheap and Easy.”
In New York last year I watched an attractive woman push a buggy across a broken footpath down in the East Village. Her image looked like hard work, from the spiked heels and leatherette leggings to the gleaming buggy that might possibly have been designed to orbit Mars. She was also wearing a baggy T-shirt that spinnakered out from her bony shoulders and read: “I Make Milk – What’s Your Superpower?”