23 August 2011


I own a lot of t-shirts. They sit, folded with reasonable competence, in three piles, on the top shelf of my closet. Two of the piles are the t-shirts I wear regularly, pretty much everyday. Those are the two front piles and they're stacked high. The shirts in those piles are varied - some are beer freebies, many are Red Sox tees, and quite a few possess quirky graphics or phrases that appeal to whatever mood I was in when I bought them. I like my t-shirts to have some sort of meaning to me. I don't know why.

The third pile is smaller and sits in their shadow. I have to take out one of the other piles to get to them. Those shirts are not worn everyday, or even monthly. They get worn pretty much once a year.

Technically speaking, they're clean. They've been thoroughly laundered and detergent, be it Ecover, Bold or Persil, has done all it can for them. They don't look clean. The white ones, if they can still be called that, bear the full brunt; splattered and smeared with uneven blotches of grey, black and jaundiced brown, front and back, sleeve and chest and belly, looking for all the world as though I'd slaughtered something long ago whilst wearing them.

I didn't slaughter anything. Honest.

It's the mark of grapes in their thousands and perhaps millions.

Out came that third pile this morning. I lay them on my bed, smiled, refolded each one and packed them tightly into my duffel bag. Each one has three vintages worth of winemaking stains so deeply pummelled into the fabric that they must be now a part of it. Tomorrow I'll start pummelling the fourth vintage into them, and I couldn't be happier about it.

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