Given the option — and social acceptability — the husband would wear his favorite shirt every day of the year.
The favorite shirt is a faded burgundy corduroy, old enough to vote, buy beer and maybe even apply for Medicare. The favorite shirt looks like large, angry dogs used it as a toy.
The shirt is miraculous. The miracle is that each time it goes through the wash, and I hang it on a hanger, it stays in one piece.
The collar alone may be one of the seven structural wonders of the world. Threadbare and disintegrating along the top, scraps of the collar remain more-or-less (mostly less) bonded by worn and ancient bits of fused interfacing. And you thought Gorilla Glue was powerful.
The shirt has an air of postmodern despair due to paint splatters, rips and tears and numerous places where it appears the wearer was snagged on barbed wire.
The elbows are fully aerated. The owner of the favorite shirt says that is why it is such a good work shirt. Thankfully, he doesn’t aerate the elbows on all his shirts.
I half-heartedly looked for a corduroy shirt last year, hoping to find a new one to use as a bargaining chip for retiring the corduroy relic, but nobody was making them. I’ve seen a couple this year, proving fashion does indeed go in 40-year cycles.
A Pinterest post featured ideas for repurposing old shirts. Like the husband would enjoy finding me crafting with his favorite shirt. “Look what I did to your favorite work shirt with the glue gun and sequins, honey!”
Pinterest suggestions included turning old shirts into plant hangers or using them as macrame or yarn. The poster was female, and the post implied she was repurposing her husband’s old shirts. I’m assuming she is now single.
You don’t mess with a loved one’s favorite shirt. An old shirt, maybe; a favorite shirt, never.
There is a difference between the two. An old shirt is just that — old.
A favorite shirt comes with memories and history—oil changes, plumbing disasters, painting projects, cutting firewood from a fallen tree, laying a brick pathway with a four-year-old shadowing your every move, and pouring concrete for the kids’ basketball goal in the driveway.
Yes, the favorite shirt may be hideous. Yes, the neighbors may talk. Some may even leave cash in the mailbox. But at the end of the day, step away from the favorite shirt.
Don’t even think about it.
Don’t even ask about it.
You can live without a plant hanger a lot easier than a loved one can live without a favorite shirt.
Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Send comments to [email protected].