The ending began with Pasta Bolognese.
The beginning began with a wedding. I had one in the Summer of 2015. Newly single, I wanted a “colorful look” for the reception. I walked into H&M and spotted you across the room. You were perfect to me. A woman told me years earlier that blue shirts go well with my brown eyes, but I had no idea I was a Gingham Man until that day.
At the party, a few guests complimented me on my yellow bow-tie. But nobody noticed you.
That bow tie is long gone. I’m not sure I wore it a second time. But here you are. How many times have I worn you?
When Facebook celebrates a “friendaversary” it tells you how many pictures you have with that person. Four? 12? 30? Big fucking deal. You’re in 80% of my pictures.
That might not just be because I choose to wear you on a disproportionate number of special occasions (which I do)…maybe it’s because you’re the only thing about me that has ever been worth taking a picture of.
You’ve been with me on nearly every first date I’ve had in the last three years, convincing one woman after another that I am capable of competently dressing myself.
You’ve led, as well, to relationships’ demise, forcing exasperated girlfriends to wonder aloud, “How many times are you going to wear that stupid shirt.”
Twelve years ago, I had a one-night-stand with a woman at my parents’ house. My sick, childhood dog, Quirk, insisted on sleeping in the room with us. The woman got mad Quirk was staring at her while we were “doing it.” I hated her for that. That’s also how I felt about any woman who asked why I wore you so much.
Or any man. Which is why I harbor just a little bit of resentment for pretty much all of my friends. The only thing that happens more often than someone joking about how often I wore you…was me actually wearing you.
While I remember wearing you on nearly every first date I’ve ever gone on, I never remember wearing you when someone dumped me. I think that’s because they saw me…in you…and couldn’t bring themselves to do it. We fit that perfectly together. I should have worn you every night. You could have been more than a shirt. You could have been a shield. For my heart.
One time my friend — we’ll call him Devin, because that’s his real name — said, “You know, you’re not supposed to wear a tie with that kind of shirt.”
I wanted to punch him in the mouth and kick his hurtful ass.
Certainly humans and shirts have had longer relationships than ours. But none could have been more codependent. Or maybe I just needed you. I wore you on a trip to Southern California, when it was so hot I sweat right through you. And I brought you on a trip to Svalbabard, Norway, even though I never took you out of my backpack because it was -5 degrees Fahrenheit, and — for all your strengths — you are not insulated.
I did not bring you when I hiked the Appalachian Trail, but you were the last shirt I wore before I left and the first one I wore when I returned.
I used to wear you for every occasion, but — during a period in my life where I was doing push-ups –the second button popped off my newly broadened chest. I should have sewed it back on, but I’m lazy (you deserved better) so I just wore you for every occasion that called for a little more chest hair. And I learned that only bad things come from push-ups.
You were slim-fitting. You made me look good when I was at my best. But you also made me look good when I put on the Mardi Gras 10, or the Jazz Fest 10, or the Saints/Giants/Arsenal/Mets-all-play-the-same-day-and-I-drink-15-beers-and-also-eat-nachos-10.
No other shirt can do that.
I saw a box of free Pasta Bolognese at work and I put it in my backpack. I sat it on top of you. I got home, unpacked my bag, and saw you were red. “Noooooooooo!!!” It looked like you were shot through the heart, which meant I was shot through the heart.
I washed you immediately. A Melisandre with her Jon Snow. But the blood remained. “Fuuuuuuuuucccccckkkkkk”.
I bought some stain remover and washed you again. It was faded, but not gone. An era is over.
Like the dog owner who replaces a deceased Fido with Fido Jr., I’ll go to H&M tomorrow and see if I can buy you again. Well, not you, exactly. But something that looks like you and feels like you. But it won’t be you, because, our history…
The Pasta Bolognese wasn’t even good. But even pasta from Sicily and sauce from Bologna wouldn’t have been worth it.
I’d never eat pasta again if it meant bringing you back.
Goodbye dear friend. The peanut butter to my jelly. The Ren to my Stimpy. The Bonnie to my Clyde. We fit each other perfectly.
In lieu of flowers, Matt is accepting H&M gift cards.