Today I’m typing in my favorite ruined t-shirt, the red one with Fighten written in cursive on the center of the chest where the identifying logo of a superhero traditionally goes.  The bottom of the F whips around and encircles the word clockwise and ends up in an old school ungrounded 2 prong plug that rests underneath the i and the g.  I love this shirt because it’s red and it has the tail end of an old powertool attached to a meaningless word.  Fighten, the bastard child of fight and frighten, like some compromise between fight and flight instincts.  I’ve never googled the word because really I prefer the mystery.

Unfortunately, and fortunately, a collection of piranha bites have developed under each armpit.  The holes are unfortunate for obvious reasons, and fortunate because I always end up ruining the clothing I love best by wearing them as often as my laundry cycle will allow.  The high rotation in tandem w/ my work and eating while reading in bed habits leave no chance that a favored shirt will not soon be splattered with coffee and milk and liquid nails and titebond numbers one and two.  That’s not dirty talk.  Titebond one is interior woodglue that’s easier to sand and not ruin a natural finish and titebond 2 is the shizzle for any woodworking exposed to moisture which is why they put a duck on the glue bottle.  So the fact that this shirt, which was picked out of a clothing swap by a sweet sweet friend and delivered to me, has mysteriously begun to unravel in the pits is a relief to me even though I love it so.  Maybe it was a toxic batch of deoderant.  Maybe a design flaw.  Either way it wasn’t my own wardrobe negligence that began the decline.

The second reason I’m glad the shirt has a bunch of tiny holes that are hidden as long as I keep my arms down is that I can raise my arms and reference the finest comedy to be released in 1982, The Toy.  Apparently The Toy, which stars Richard Pryor and features Jackie Gleason and the rotten little kid Pryor has to keep entertained, is not being watched by todays college graduates and requires all the educational arm raising I can deliver.  I mean, I can handle that in the not too distant future I’ll pass into oblivion along with this blog and every piece of wood I ever tightly bound together… but what kind of a world would this be if nobody knew what the hell a man was talking about when he shouted, “Don’t die Wonderwheel!”  Fighten and I are just doing are part to keep that sad sad day at bay, using all the adhesives and mysteries at our disposal.

Maybe there’s no hope for The Toy, even in this golden age of 80’s remakes for a nostalgic audience of 30-somethings coming to grips with early middle age.  Perhaps there’s no good way to pitch a movie about a spoiled white kid getting a very entertaining black man of his own as a gift.  I say bring on the uncomfortably funny and all its complicated implications, because we really haven’t gotten any better about talking about race so we may as well laugh about it.

The Toy wasn’t much of a cultural exchange.  The audience doesn’t learn anything about the Pryor character’s life outside of his time spent as a nanny comedian working for Gleason’s character.  It was, however, the only movie I saw as a kid in the segregated south of the 80’s in which racial and economic barriers were busted up by humor and then paved over by respect.

How did we get from t-shirts to race relations?  I just wanted to work the Wonderwheel into the blog…


10 responses to “Fighten!

    • Damnit I’m illiterate in cursive. Horseshit! You gave me the shirt so I guess that makes you right. I, however, wore out the armpits so that gives me some say in the matter. I’ll need some time to reconsider my position…

      • shouldn’t it have a hose on it if it is in fact a fighter shirt. I mean, what can you fight with an ungrounded plug? Darkness I suppose, and then illiteracy or monsters.

  1. Ahhahha!!! It is fighter. Great post! Are you telling me that (a) as you were watching The Toy in 3rd grade that you were noting the race barriers being destroyed by comedy and respect and (b) A-Town was still in the grips of unwanted segregation in the 80s? That’s an awful lot of insight from a 8 year old.

  2. McLure, you could take your favorite shirts and pants that are falling apart and give them to someone who makes quilts. Then you could recycle them and use them while reading in bed.

    • I actually keep a ratty army surplus backpack full of shirts AND pants in the closet but they always get turned into paint rags before I can make a worthy battle blanket.

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