Tattered and torn

I am no fashionista, but even I know that when an article of clothing is ripped beyond repair, it is time to let it go to the big fabric-recycling box in the sky.

But try and tell that to the Carpenter, and you’ll be invested in a debate that will leave you in stitches. A perfect example: the Bermuda shark T-shirt, circa 1996.

I came upon this tattered T-shirt last weekend, while hanging the Carpenter’s laundry on the line. This is not a task I am often asked to perform, and now I see why.

The Carpenter prefers to do his own laundry; he always has. Early in our relationship he made it absolutely clear that he did not want me to wash his dirty clothes. In his mind, that was being overtly maternal and since he had a mother, he didn’t want another one. I knew right there that I would marry this man.

But I digress, because even the Carpenter’s mother would have insisted he stop wearing clothes that resemble cheesecloth material. So when I picked up the Bermuda shark T-shirt and clinched it to the laundry line with wooden pegs, I was shocked to find it hanging in ribbons of cotton stretched with tiny holes. The only consistent piece of the shirt was the collar that was no longer attached to the back of the shirt. This wasn’t a T-shirt, it was a battle flag and he’d lost the war.

 Every instinct in my body told me to toss the T-shirt away. I could make the beloved shirt disappear and hope he’d be none the wiser. But I couldn’t do it. I knew the history of that garment.

For a man who isn’t sentimental about much, be it anniversaries or special occasions, the Carpenter sure does love his shark T-shirt from Bermuda.

It reminds him of his former life before marriage and kids, working on the tiny island constructing a storm-worthy office building and drinking Dark ‘n’ Stormy rum concoctions with his fellow construction workers; carefree days where the rate of pay of was extravagant and so was his ability to spend.

I resisted the urge to toss away his memories. He needed to make that call. And one would assume it was an easy call to make – if one assumed the Carpenter was rational about said shark T-shirt.

I held up the tattered garment and yelled across the yard, “I think it’s time we let this one go, no?”

He looked up and I realized that in my effort to be helpful with the laundry, I wasn’t supposed to see that article of clothing. Somehow, he figured he’d get to it before I could intervene and pull the chord on its thread-barren existence. Was that a pout?

“That shirt still has miles in it,” he said, walking quickly to retrieve his precious item.

“It’s just broken in. It’s a great work shirt,” he reasoned.

But even he knew the time had come. The shirt was a rag. My face showed only sympathy. This clearly had to be his call.

And then I picked up a pair of his skivvies, or should I say the pieces of his skivvies, and before I could utter a remark, he looked at me wide-eyed and said, “What? They still work.”

Love is blind, people. Love is blind.


Kelly Waterhouse