The free clothes that make this man

Alright, I’ll admit it: I have never bought a sports T-shirt in my life. It’s one of the few things I’m proud of, though I’m not sure why. The purchased shirts I own came as gifts from others. I have never succumbed to any fad or craze, unless you count Girbaud jeans in elementary school.

I’m not sure how I’ve done it; the temptation has definitely been there. When I went to the 2002 National Championship in Atlanta to see the Hoosiers and the Terrapins, I almost broke down. Luckily a buddy of mine owed me some cash, so he bought me the shirt to commemorate the event.

If you’re like me, then I’m sure you have one or two of these pieces of apparel. I’m not talking about the hat that’s been rubbed on concrete or pre-ripped jeans. I’m talking about the clothing that has aged like a fine wine, i.e. my faded University of Virginia “Orange and Blue” shirt, or my vintage 2001 Texas A&M “Maroon Out” shirt. The kind of shirt that if they ran the black light over it, like in Room Raiders, I would be left dateless.

My shirts represent places I’ve seen, things I’ve done, and almost all of them have a story or meaning behind them. I’ve won a shirt from a casino in Vegas – a prize for getting a suited blackjack. I’ve filled out numerous credit card applications only to get a free T-shirt. I’ve collected T-shirts from a game at the Swamp, a Miami-Virginia Tech game in Blacksburg and other various sporting events. I’ve lived and traveled around the South and Southeast, and the only mementos I have from my journeys are my merchandise.

That’s why it hurts so much to say goodbye to them.

Over the years I’ve had to part with some of my most treasured tees. Through several moves, spring cleanings and unintentional bleaching, my dear friends have departed. Many have also been stretched and ripped because of my slow progression toward morbid obesity. With only one more semester until I graduate, the professional world will call, and I will be forced to retire some of my cotton companions, because it’s hard to get a job when you’re wearing a Jägermeister “Shot Drinker” shirt.

That’s why it irritates me when a guy buys the cap or jersey because he “likes the way it looks.” Up there with him are the clever people who don South Carolina “Cocks,” Furman University and Moorehouse College hats. There is definitely nothing funnier than one of those ingenious pieces of apparel.

Everyone should try to be original, not giving into the clothes that big companies force upon us through advertising. I’m asking everyone to think about the next purchase they make in their next trip to a sports store or the mall.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I’ve got to get out of here: I heard Abercrombie is having a sale.