I am now wearing an Incredible Hulk t-shirt. This was simply because it was the nearest tee within arm’s reach. It appears to be a bit dirty. But no matter. I am doing laundry tomorrow. Of course, after that abominable Ang Lee movie, the Hulk is the least hep comic book figure to have emblazoned across your chest. But I like the Hulk. I grew up reading the Peter David issues, the good Gray Hulk stuff, and the Hulk, I suppose, is a figure that is my guilty pleasure. Almost as guilty as the Fantastic Four. (Under duress, you will hear me saying, “It’s clobbering time!”)
Anyway, at my local cafe, I’ve become known as the laconic writer who comes in with “crazy” tee shirts and a laptop. The staff at this cafe is very nice. But they have rather strangely identified me as the man over 30 with the T-shirts (“The Brain That Wouldn’t Die,” “The Cabinet of Dr. Calligari,” the like). I have obtained some dubious neighborhood-related mystique. Why would such a man with a clearly receding hairline deign to espouse this sort of adolescence? There seems to be a silent consensus among the staff that there might be something serious going on.
But it’s really quite simple. For whatever damn reason, I feel tremendously comfortable writing while wearing a strange T-shirt espousing unfashionable cultural trappings. Where other people might roll up their sleeves, I feel the need to replace my shirt (and I am more inclined to wear dress shirts than tees) to get down to bidness.
In fact, there seems to be an odd crap tee revival of sorts amongst the hipster community. There is a rather obnoxious cafe known as Cafe Reverie up in Cole Valley. I once went in there with a Spam T-shirt, expecting to be ridiculed and otherwise demeaned with snobbish looks. But what I found instead was that the people there really dug my shirt. A friend of mine tried to explain to me that adopting these T-shirts involved a certain trailer trash chic that was currently in vogue. I had no such plan. I wore the tee because I liked it and there was some strange need to provoke yuppies who believe they are entitled to everything. But it was just the reverse.
So the moral of the story is this: a T-shirt may not be the symbol of rebellion you think it is.
© 2005, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.