Graphic Tees For The Tillerman

Peek into anyones chest of drawers and lo and behold you will find: a T-shirt. And usually more than one. Theyre unstoppable and totally comfortable. Do you think by totally comfortable I mean totally or absolutely? Its a semantic game, to be sure, but as a purveyor of all things comfortable, I like to use all-encompassing and ridiculous words. By way of disclosure, I should say, right off the bat: I am an avid T-shirt collector and, on occasion, I do wear them.

Now, it should be said, by me (who else) that I engage in both in histrionics and history. With regards to the latter, Id like to dabble with the history of the mighty, mighty T-shirt. Brace yourself. Originally, this symbol of masculine prowess and the prompter of countless gun show shtick, was an Englishmans best line of defense in the war against that most improper of human functions: sweating. Yes, the T-shirt started as a pit stop. Now, mind you were talking about sometime in the 1880s. Very Victorian, no? But of course they didnt call it a T-shirt, opting for the terribly proper: under-vest. By Jove!

The theory is that during WW2, the English lads introduced the under-vest to their American counter-parts and our brave boys brought their under-vests home. I think this is questionable as I can wear Ive seen old movies with Clark Gable in a muscle T, washing his face or something. Anyone? Well, so the story goes the English gave us the T-shirt and we adopted the military designation for the shirt, which was training shirt. Get it? Training shirt became t-shirt. Im still not buying it.

And so the plot thickens when the GIs bring the Ts home and start wearing them without the fuss and bother of a button down shirt or sports coat. Madness! Remember, were talking about the age of Brylcreem here. So, of course, what does every ad man dream of? Millions of miniature, walking billboards waiting to be emblazoned with a slogan. In fact, in the 48 election, both the Republicans and Democrats printed T-shirts with such winning slogans as “”Dew it for Dewey and “”I Like Ike.”” I do like Ike.

Lo and behold: graphic Tees are born unto Man! Plain white T-shirts? Why? Slap something on it: pictures, slogans, cartoon characters, hand-written passages from Thus Spoke Zarathustra. O man, take care! What does the deep midnight declare? I was asleep”” Anyone? Anyone? Anyway, follow the next fad to the T of your dreams. What do I care?

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