Appendix 1.17 – You’re Doing It Wrong

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.


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