Buying Shirts

I've been called a non-conformist among non-conformists. It's usually intended as criticism, but I wear it like a badge. It extends into my life as a gay man. I'm not like other fags. If anyone blows away the gay stereotypes, it is I. I abhor dance music. My home is more filthy than any fraternity house. But most of all, I hate fashion.

Clothes, for me, are a burden placed on us by a repressive society. If it were up to me, I'd be walking around naked every day. The harsh weather of the North East makes this difficult most of the year, but in a perfect world I would have no wardrobe at all.

When it comes to buying clothes, I'm worse than a little boy. I'd rather have a root canal than go clothes shopping. If someone is persuasive enough to get me to step foot into a clothing store, I immediately break into a cold sweat and think of any way possible to get the Hell out.

Once a year or so, I go into the local men's and boys' store, grab a pair of blue Levis and a pair of black Levis, and take them to the counter. Since I know my size and it's emblazoned right on the product, I can usually get this task done in about five minutes, depending on whether there's a line at the checkout or not.

This leaves just shirts. The dress code at work is loose enough that jeans and a button-down shirt are acceptible every day. I have a reasonable stash of shirts that I've gotten as gifts over the years. I also have a few friends who'll give me their old shirts before they throw them away. One friend in particular will occasionally bring in a pile of old shirts and let me paw through them before he tosses them out.

Recently, however, I decided to dye my hair blonde, and suddenly a only a subset of my shirts looked any good on me. This put me in a predicament. After two weeks of wearing the same few shirts over and over again, I knew that something had to be done.

I went to the Salvation Army.

On the way into the parking lot, some guy in a full-sized Chevrolet cut me off and took the last parking space. I parked in the mud and then walked to the door, which the bastard in the Chevy allowed to close in my face. I went in, and was promptly stuck behind him as he stood there looking around the store. I dodged past him in a deliberate manner, and made a bee line for the shirt rack.

I went through every shirt they had. It was delightfully low-stress. If I walk into a bona fide clothing store, I'm immediately dazed and overwhelmed. This time, however, I went through the rack and could make split-second decisions on which shirts I liked. Within ten minutes or so I had a good selection picked out. I went through them and filtered out the ones that I decided I didn't like after all. I was left with ten shirts that ranged in price from $1.50 to $3.50.

I darted up to the counter to make sure I could pay for them with my credit card. No one was at the counter, but I saw the little Visa/MasterCard stickers. I ran back, grabbed the shirts, and went back up to the counter. Who was there but the guy who took my parking space and shut the door on me. I had to wait while he purchased some ugly, tacky wall clock.

Soon he was gone, and the lady started ringing me up. I quickly noticed that she was only charging me half the price of each item.

"Is this half-off shirts day?" I asked.

"Yup," she said. "It's half-off everything in the store on Monday and Tuesday."

I've always had good luck in Salvation Armies. About fifteen years ago I purchased a full-length P-coat, and just happened to be there on half-off overcoats day. It wound up costing me $5. I still use it as my rain coat to this day.

When the woman was done, the total came to a little over $12. I grabbed my shirts and went home. I promptly tossed them into the washing machine and did a quick load. This is a rare event for me. Unlike most fags, and straight people for that matter, I'll wear clothes many times over before I do a load of laundry. I don't have bad body odor, and no one's ever noticed in all these years, so it's a lifestyle that I intend to continue.

Anyway, a couple hours later the shirts were all dry. I dug up some extra hangers, and soon my wardrobe of shirts had been increased by about 30%. I wore one today, and I'm still wearing it as I type this story. If I have to wear clothes, I'm going to do so as inexpensively as I can.

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