Sunday, April 29, 2007


I did it again. I left lip balm in my jeans pocket, which normally wouldn’t be a problem, but I washed my jeans and then melted the lip balm to oblivion in the dryer. The annoyance of replacing the lip balm aside, I knew that as soon as I found the empty tube, I would have dark spots of melted balminess on my clothing. And because I make this mistake so often, I also knew with dread certainty that those spots would never come out.


A strange Spartan attitude took over my usual packrat mode and I tossed half a dozen shirts into the trash can after finding telltale lip balm spots. I wasn’t going to wear them because of the dark spots, so there was no use in keeping them. Then my thoughts wandered to my dresser, which was busting at the seams with clothing I know I pass by every morning. I only have so many outfits that I swap out for work, so there was no reason for me to be unable to shut the drawers on a regular basis. The latest episode of melted lip balm was the straw that broke the camel’s back: I was weeding out my wardrobe.

I splayed the contents of my bottom dresser drawers on the bed and dropped items into the Goodwill bag without a second thought. That tank top is too low, I don’t wear things with bows anymore, I shrunk that in the wash, etc. I added every button-down shirt I own because, by some strange phenomenon, my arms look like sausages in the sleeves, but I am pretty certain that my arms are not my biggest fat problem. Whatever – I didn’t wear them at all last season. I was emboldened by the growing stack of items in the bag. Look at me! I’m not being all sentimental about my clothing! I’m not like those loonies on What Not to Wear!

And then I saw that my real problem was not tank tops or bows or shrinkage. My real problem was Free T-shirts. Cue ominous music.

If such a thing existed, I would qualify for Free Stuff Anonymous. A radio commercial back in the day featured a commentator saying, “Free is my favorite price. It’s my favorite flavor. It’s my favorite color. It’s always my size.” Oh, how I related. My penchant for not paying for things resulted in an overwhelming collection of t-shirts in varying degrees of bagginess and requisite obnoxious logos. I separated the lot into four major categories:

  • College: bright blue or gold, usually with a picture of a chicken
  • Summer Camp: various campfire or mountainous silk-screened designs
  • Rock Climbing: logo-covered prizes from competitions = human billboard
  • Sentimental: gifts, inside jokes, or otherwise unexplainable to outside parties

I was aghast at the sight of the leaning tower of t-shirts. How many shirts does one person need, anyway?

Though it pained me, I slowly sorted through the stack with my newly-minted Spartan mindset. I only wear college shirts to football games, so three will suffice. I only wear camp shirts in the summer, so I only need two. Only one climbing shirt is small enough to wear in public, but I couldn’t give up any of the sentimental ones. Stacy and Clinton would be shaking their disapproving heads at me.

There is a bright side to all of this separation anxiety. After gazing at my beloved shirts forlornly, I hopped up to e-mail my mother-in-law, which I know is sort of a weird reflex. See, she made quilts for all three of her children out of childhood shirts and they had them for freshman year at college. JG’s quilt is in our living room and I use it all the time, so I asked if she would mind rescuing my shirts. She wrote back right away to say that she was “thrilled to do it,” as long as I didn’t impose a time constraint. JG snorted and said, “Yeah, I hope you don’t mind waiting for five years.”

It’s fine with me! I know I’ll get them back in quilt-form eventually, and in the meantime, I have more drawer space for new clothes…


L Sass said...

Oh the t-shirts are hard... it took me 2+ years of running 10 races a year to start getting rid of race t-shirts. I don't even work out in cotton t-shirts most of the time--I prefer technical fabric!

AS finally forced me to clean out after I broke the t-shirt drawer of my dresser and he had to fix it!

janet said...

oh, I am jealous! I kept about 30 sorority tees from college in the hopes of someday making them into a quilt....key word being SOMEDAY!

I came home the other day and Andrew had washed his wallet in his pants. Every item in the wallet was laying out to dry on the dining room table. Oopsie!