In the early ’00s stores like Abercrombie and Fitch, American Eagle, Gap, and Old Navy often sold t-shirts featuring numbers on them. Sometimes they looked like jerseys with names on the front and/or back, but just as often they did not; they were simply shirts featuring numbers. To write it this way makes it sound odd, but I assure it was not as odd as the contemporaneous popularity of t-shirts featuring the names of states and retro designs. Anyway, my favorite (and jersey) number is 8, and I was morally obligated to purchase a t-shirt featuring this number. By my quick count I bought at least eleven of them – and those are just the ones I can specifically remember – but as of this writing, I don’t own any. Time has not been kind to my waistline or cotton blends, sadly.
Anyway, my absolute favorite of these types of shirts wasn’t even mine. It was one of Lynnette’s.
Lynnette began the arduous and emotional process of cleaning out her dresser drawers and closet. During the excavation, she unearthed this gem, courtesy of Abercrombie and Fitch, the erstwhile trendsetter famous for selling $40 t-shirts and $70 ripped jeans as well as shirtless guys standing in their storefronts. Those guys made me hate myself for being so skinny and then for being so fat. Incredible.
Anyway, one of the reasons I fell in love with Lynnette in the first place was her willingness to play along with my stupid games and tolerate my whims and quirks and outrageous superstitions. She bought 8-shirts, too. When she broke these out earlier today, she called to Madison. “Madison! Here! You can have these!” I came to look as well and saw a small handful of 8-shirts. “Yeah, yeah,” I said. Until Lynnette brought out this one. “No! Madison can’t have it!” I shouted. “C’mon, dad!” Madison said reflexively, unaware of the shirt’s historical value. “Well what are you going to do with it, then?” Lynnette said. “IT’S MY FAVORITE SHIRT OF ALL TIME!” I said sternly. “So what?” Lynnette asked. “It…” I started. Believe me, I knew it was from Last Crusade before I said it, but it doesn’t make it any less serious. Or true. “It belongs in a museum,” I said. Lynnette scoffed that scoffy scoff of hers.
Because two other reasons I fell for Lynnette were those super-human legs of hers. Holy Moly. Back during summer fun I used to purposely throw the dodge ball past her so she’d have to run to go get it, then bend over to pick it up. Look, she knew what she was doing, and probably what I was doing. She has two degrees. She’s smart she says. Even now, years later with two buns in the oven (or cats in the bag, whichever you prefer), her legs are still legendary. You know how coming across a song you like on the radio or hearing it in a grocery store somehow improves the enjoyment of the song in a way that can’t be matched by calling it up on your own playlist? That’s how I always viewed 8-shirts. Of course I could have made them myself, but it wouldn’t have felt like good fortune. So understand that when I saw this shirt in the store, it felt like fate, destiny, kismet, all of the above. It was something I loved and something I loved about Lynnette. It’s like if Lynnette were to go shopping tomorrow and were to find a men’s t-shirt that had a picture of green tea ice-cream on it that read “Does Laundry”.