Day 9 of Shredded Comfort
“You’ve never understood about bottoms, Jane. Having a bottom is living with the enemy. Not only do they spend their lives slowly inflating, they flirt with men while we’re looking the other way.” –Coupling
Before you get worried — or, dare I hope, excited? — let me assure that this post isn’t about bottoms.
It’s about music.
When I was in 8th grade I had an overnight musical transformation. In the span of just a few weeks I went from listening exclusively to Weird Al and the Aladdin soundtrack to Green Day and Nirvana and Pearl Jam and Hootie and the Blowfish. You know: all the really cool stuff. I was a late bloomer when it came to social trends and the like. I know I was because my mom said it.
In 8th grade I was losing my friends and everything was changing and I didn’t know what the hell was going on. I latched on to popular music like a male angler-fish onto a female. I thought I was mating, but I was actually being absorbed. I went into the whole thing with an un-self-aware intensity I was only able to muster back in the age when my neurotransmitters were so awash with indiscriminate hormones that getting 12 free CDs for the price of one through the mail from Colombia House felt like the deal of a lifetime.
Listening to music became my primary leisure activity, and which bands I liked became my entire identity. I wanted to go to concerts like the cool kids and come back to school Monday with still-mussed hair and wild eyes and crazy stories about singers licking dildos on stage. I asked for a guitar for Christmas, and got books on how to play.
And I wanted a band t-shirt. Desperately. Everyone was wearing them. They showed what bands you liked on the freaking shirt. There was and never would be a superior article of clothing. And they were expensive as hell. Plus, I didn’t even know how to go clothes shopping. This was a skill I just never acquired. So I kept my eye out for a cheap one, hoping to snag it and talk my mom into it before she knew what was happening. It was the perfect plan! And it came to fruition during a street festival held by our town. Among the Led Zeppelin and Rolling Stone and other dinosaur band shirts I found one for only 10 bucks for a band I actually liked. Soundgarden. I asked my mom if I could get it, and she said yes! Huzzah! I was in!
But I never wore the shirt once. It sat in my drawer for ages. Eventually it somehow made it into my dad’s wardrobe and he wore it until it was so faded it made a convincing case for the existence of an abstract artist called “oun a den.”
Why didn’t I wear it? Well, how could I? Wearing that shirt was the equivalent of walking around shouting “I like Soundgarden! Soundgarden rock! Black hole suuuuuuuun!” And I would never do that. People got confrontation about what bands you liked. Someone might judge me. It’s a phobia I still have today.
Because this post isn’t really about music.
It’s about clothes.
I don’t mind being loud and crazy and noticeable in public. But I have a weird anxiety about being identified. I don’t mean identified as myself. I mean identified as part of a group. A geek, or a Soundgarden fan, or someone who makes jokes about other people being assholes. I don’t mind drawing attention to myself, but I hate having my clothes do it without my express permission. Where the hell do those fibrous bastards get off?
Even worse than logos is clothing with writing on it. That’s the equivalent of saying the same sentence over and over and over, to everyone you see, all day long. So for today’s challenge, I had my wife make me a t-shirt. Here it is, stylishly modeled by the dining room chair.
Then I wore that downtown for almost four hours as I walked around and did stuff.
Most people didn’t really notice. Plenty of people stared. Only two people asked about my space waffles. One of them was a barrista at a coffee shop.
“They’re delicious,” I said. “As long as you can process white dwarf star matter.
” “You don’t think I can process that?” he asked.
“I don’t know. I know I can’t. You can certainly find out.”
“Okay,” he said. “So where do I find these space waffles?” “Chandrasekhar. It’s 67,000 light years that way.”
He was disappointed he wasn’t getting any waffles.
The other person who asked was an old man at a street corner. I started to answer him, but was interrupted by another guy who had just handed me a gospel tract and told me, “That’s the most important thing, right there.”
“Okay,” I replied. “I’ll be sure to ask God about the space waffles.”
Overall the whole thing was really fun and super easy. I definitely think I’ve made some strides towards getting over this ludicrous phobia. Honestly I wish a lot more people had asked me. Were strangers secretly judging me, as I was so terrified they would. The answer is as obvious as it is simple:
Who cares? I have space waffles!