And now we have reached the final shirt of all the shirts. This last shirt of the group of vintage T-shirts that I inherited from my wife’s uncle is one that I had been waiting for the appropriate moment to wear—that is, when I wouldn’t be around any polite company, especially my children. As it turned out, no such opportunity ever arose, since I am one of those parents who actually chooses to spend time with his children. So I ended up wearing it underneath a Hawaiian shirt because as much admiration as I have for this shirt, I can’t just be wearing it out to dinner or anything.
So usually I describe the picture first and then get to the words, but this time I think I really have to start with the words, and to do so I have to do my best to properly include the line breaks because they elevate the words from a mere T-shirt slogan to poetry. Here is my best rendition:
I’M SO HAPPY
I think that speaks for itself, honestly. And who is it, other than the wearer of this shirt, that is expressing this poetic sentiment? Well, we have a picture to illustrate that.
The picture features what I assume is some kind of anthropomorphic frog (because of course it’s a frog) sitting at a desk with its giant head in its hand. Next to the desk is a full wastebasket (symbolism) and upon the desk is a green inkwell with a pen sticking out of it (because of course anthropomorphic frogs use ink dip pens). The man-frog’s expression clearly shows its irritated boredom with its day job as a calligrapher or medieval scribe, causing the manimal to sarcastically liken his lack of enthusiasm with a defecation-inducing glee.
And if a sarcastic, expletive-spewing frog-thing is not a good way to end this run of shirts, then I don’t know what is.
Thanks for reading. Future posts will involve the progress of upcycling projects, which will likely be less frequent, but that’s how it goes.
Today we have a grey ringer from Shotgun Eddy, featuring a picture of what one must assume is a lumberjack with huge biceps and apparently atrophied forearms carrying an axe and riding a log. I will assume that the rest of his legs are under water in this rendering, and not that he is also an amputee. He does have the one most important feature of any lumberjack, however—that of course being a majestic moustache.
Surrounding the picture which was evidently drawn by a thirteen-year-old are the words “Shotgun Eddy”, “WOLF RIVER TRIPS”, and “WHITELAKE, WISC.” From this I gather that Shotgun Eddy is a person or organization that will facilitate you floating down the Wolf River in the north woods of Wisconsin, near White Lake (not Whitelake, my thorough research—googling it—concludes). Whether that is something done on a log is unclear, as is how it involves shotguns. I would hope it involves canoes or rafts of some sort and is done voluntarily and not at gunpoint. But I’ve never been there so I wouldn’t know.
Hey everybody, sorry it’s been a while since I posted any shirts. Been busy.
So we’re back with a blue ringer. Today’s entry has a sparkly iron-on design with a half-sunburst saying “HAVE A NICE DAY Before Some BASTARD Louses It Up!” I like this one. It’s straightforward and to the point. The joke is relatable but not too pandering. Mostly, the design is interesting. It’s effectively just text, but they made it interesting by playing with the layout and the typography instead of just plopping it on a scroll for some reason.
So what can one say about this shirt that isn’t already being said by the shirt itself? I will only draw attention to a few things; that we’re back to the blue ringer, and that the donkey is wearing a hat. And I suppose that they felt it necessary to really make their point clear by giving it a black eye.
I do want to say something about the context of the shirt though. Regular readers will recall that I got all these vintage shirts from my wife’s late uncle. One can get a reasonably accurate picture of his personality from the shirts he used to express himself. I don’t mean that in any judgmental way; he simply was who he was. He was a thin man prematurely aged by his constant smoking and horrendous diet; he enjoyed hunting and fishing; he had a rather juvenile sense of humor. He lived with his mother almost all his life, and got taken in by scammers who took his money and left him believing, until his dying day, that they were going to make him a millionaire. He loved his cats and his family. I don’t want to mock him or give the impression that he was a one-dimensional character or that though he was very different from me that he was in some way inferior.
There was, however, something about him that while he was alive I always suspected, but never explored outside of private conversations with my wife. For a long time, I thought he may be gay. This was a vague impression more than anything, based mostly on circumstantial evidence and intuition. He married once, young, very briefly, divorced after a year. This was not much talked about and it was said that it fell apart because she cheated on him. He seemed to spend most of his time that was not at home with his mother (in the household my wife grew up in as well for much of her life) or at work in the company of one male friend at the friend’s house. I suppose in my mind I had developed this tragic character for him, where he wasn’t able to reconcile his very blue-collar, north-woods Wisconsin life with his internal desires. This was probably mostly of my own invention. To me, it seemed like I was seeing a man trying hard to fit the description of what he thought was expected of him and not always succeeding, but enough so that everyone was able to go about their business and not ask too many questions. This T-shirt, to me, was a classic example of overcompensation.
After he died and we were cleaning out his things, we found a stack of old Playboy magazines. One could easily argue that as proof against or evidence for my theory, were one so inclined. I don’t suppose I’ll have any confirmation one way or the other, and moreover it doesn’t really matter anyway.
The late 70’s/early 80’s blue/brown trend continues today with another ringer, but this time a brown one. It features a giant bear. Below the bear it says “Colorado”. Above the bear, in tiny green script (tiny compared to the giant bear, at least) it says “Bear Country”. That is pretty much all there is to it. Not much more needs to be said when you’ve got a giant bear.
So by now I expect everyone knows the standard format for these shirts is the blue ringer with the probably sparkly iron-on design with some kind of euphemistic pun. Today’s euphemistic pun is “Once a King always a King but once a knight is ENOUGH”.
I will set aside some of my questions such as how the knight managed to get his eyeballs to exist on the top of his helmet, and not behind his visor, which is why helmets have visors to begin with, and get to the more obvious question. Again, I’m pretty sure I get the joke here, but I am confused as to who is supposed to be making this joke. So someone please correct me if I am missing something, but this is another sex joke, clearly, right? The joke is a pun on night/knight, but the crux of it is saying that sex more than once per night would be excessive. Which is probably true, at least over the long term, but usually these kinds of jokes are of the “I like sex” variety, as that is (arguably) funny, and the opposing “I want to limit my sexual encounters to a reasonable level” point of view, while it may be a respectable perspective, is not all that humorous. Usually if that perspective is put forward in a humorous context it is attributed to the foil, not to the joker; the “I don’t want a lot of sex” voice is usually coming from someone who is portrayed as the frigid wife/prude/hypocrite, who is then mocked because of it.
The best I can figure is to draw from the image of the obviously symbolic downward-curving lance (the perspective in the photo may appear that the curve is just the way the shirt surface curves away from the camera on my torso, but it is in fact intentionally drooping) and assume that this is supposed to be a sort of self-deprecating style of joke where the person is asserting that yes, they enjoy sex up to and including once per night, but because of their own physical failings are incapable of more than that. Which I guess is kinda funny but still a little unusual because that’s laughing at me instead of laughing with me. If I were the writer of this T-shirt pun, I would have probably gone with something more like “Once a king, always a king, but once a knight is a good start” or something like that. Because it’s more relatable to people in the “Oh hey, you like sex as frequently as possible? Me too!” kind of way. That doesn’t mean it’s literally true. It’s a joke. If I were in the position (ahem) to have to prove it by actually having sex multiple times per night, I’d give it my best try but eventually admit it was just a funny T-shirt. I’m not advocating hypersexuality. I’m just saying moderation isn’t that funny.
Today another blue ringer with an iron-on design. I am now beginning to wonder if he just got a bunch of blue ringer T’s and iron-on transfers and made these all himself, because I never noticed it until now but the uniformity is striking. I guess I never thought about it because it was the designs themselves which caught my attention, but the quality on all of them is so good I guess I assumed they were done professionally.
This one the design has faded somewhat but honestly that might be my fault. I think it was in better shape before I got it. The picture is of a fisherman who has inadvertently caught the seat of his own pants and in classic cartoon style has somehow defied physics by lifting himself out of the water. He appears confused and distraught, judging by the look on his face and the “!?!” hovering above him. Surrounding this scene are the words “HOOKED ON FISHING” with one side of the H barbed like a fishhook.
At this point I would like to mention that although I work with several avid hunters and fishermen, none of them have at any point commented on my awesome hunting and fishing shirts, which is a little disappointing.
After a brief detour we’re back to our outdoorsy theme again with another blue ringer with an iron-on design. This time we still have a deer, but we have added some trees and a waterfall, etc., as a tribute to the home state of Wisconsin. Where there are lots of deer and trees and waterfalls. Or at least that was the case thirty years ago, apparently.
As with yesterday’s shirt, we have another shirt on the sportsman spectrum, this one featuring deer instead of fish. It is again a blue ringer with an iron-on design, this one saying “HAPPINESS IS… BIG BUCKS” with a picture of a deer on it to clarify the pun. I found it a little odd at first because the deer pictured to me does not appear to be that big of a buck, as I have certainly seen bigger myself, and that as someone who is not a deer hunter. Perhaps that is because it appears to be an image of a mule deer and not the white-tailed deer that are common here in the Midwest.
Among other things, My wife’s uncle was an avid outdoorsman, and this was reflected in his sense of personal style. Hunting and fishing were common themes in both the décor of his house and the content of his wardrobe. This shirt is a pretty straightforward example of that. another blue shirt, this one a ringer, with an iron-on that says “I’D RATHER BE FISHING” and a fish jumping out of the water.
When I wore this my kids asked me what kind of fish it was. I told them I didn’t know, because I’m not a very good fisherman. My guess is a trout. If someone knows better feel free to correct me. I do attempt to fish occasionally, but I typically do so in the context of trying to take the boys out with me, and in that case, I spend the entire time untangling lines and making sure nobody falls in the water, so very little actual fishing gets done.