So when I was in high school, I had a girlfriend. We got along OK, I guess. We liked each other, mostly. It never would have worked out—that much is pretty obvious, now—but we had some good times. You date people in high school mostly because they’re there, not so much because you have a lot in common. And we did not really have that much in common. For example, at that time, I was in to ripped jeans and flannels and growing out my hair, whereas she was in to trendy clothes and hated my hair long (while lusting after guys in bands with long hair). Admittedly I was still in that transitional phase, hair-wise, where it’s not long yet and looks like crap. But that’s the price you pay.
There was a point at which I broke down and got a haircut. On the face of it the reason I did this was because I had been cast in a play in which I was playing the role of a military officer, and they aren’t, as a rule, seen with shaggy, bangs-in-your-face, high-school-boy haircuts. But part of it (although I wouldn’t have admitted it to her at the time) was because I was tired of the obvious contempt she had for my appearance. On the one hand, I couldn’t understand why she wanted me to be something other than what I chose to be, and couldn’t accept me at face value. On the other hand, I wanted to make her happy and like me. So I guess the play thing gave me a plausible excuse.
Around the same time, she expressed an interest in taking me shopping, to help me choose some clothes that she thought would improve my image. I reluctantly agreed to this because I wanted to be open-minded. We went to the mall, and she took me with her to various stores so that she might pick out an “outfit” for me. I explained that while I had heard of this concept, it was not entirely clear to me. My understanding of it was that these were a set of clothes that one wore all together, at the same time, and were for the purpose of wearing all together at the same time. She said that basically this was correct. I asked her if that then prohibited me from wearing individual pieces of this “outfit” separately. She said that while that was possible, it took away from the impact that the whole ensemble together would have. I explained to her that this seemed like it was impractical at best, and perhaps even downright silly, to own a shirt that could only be worn with a certain pair of pants, or vice-versa. This argument did not convince her. So, in an attempt to be the boyfriend she clearly wanted, I agreed to let her pick out some clothes for me.
This shirt was the partial result of that shopping trip. This is not a shirt I would have ever considered buying otherwise. It is a grey shirt which says “REQUEST JEANS CO. LOS ANGELES CALIFORNIA” across the front. This is the extent of the design. Basically I got a shirt that advertises a company that sells pants. This is something that we paid to have the privilege to do. They did not pay us to advertise for them. We paid them. I do not remember nor do I care to what the other parts and pieces of this “outfit” were. I just know that whenever I see this shirt, it reminds me of the foolishness trying to conform to someone else’s ideal.