Sometime not so long ago, I started wearing T-shirts in public again, and that's when all my problems started. When I wore a simple polo-style shirt, I didn't have to worry about what anyone would assume about me. But now, I have to be extra careful because each T-shirt -with its slogan, picture or theme - is just a bad impression waiting to be made. It makes me wish I'd never stopped wearing long-sleeve flannel shirts, rolled up to the elbows. That's how I dressed in the '80s, but I'm trying to forget my clothing choices from that decade.
I love music, so naturally I have several music-themed T-shirts. Well, I had to stop wearing one of them - an AthFest shirt that I picked up in Athens. AthFest is an amazing summer music festival, and I was happy to wear my shirt around town showing my support. At least, I was happy until several people asked me why I was advertising for atheism. They misread AthFest as "Atheist." Well, I'm not an atheist. I'm a Methodist. There's a huge difference. But, I decided to avoid any confusion, and now I wear my AthFest T-shirt when I putter around the house. I also have a shirt from the defunct punk club CBGB in New York City - a club I used to visit. I still wear that one in public, and I don't care what people think. That's just the kind of attitude you'd expect from a punk, huh? Besides, CBGB isn't easy to misread as something scandalous.
I suppose the biggest problem with T-shirts isn't with my music-themed ones. The ones that worry me most are the Christian ones. Technically, pieces of clothing can't be Christian or atheistic, but they can have Christian messages on them. Every now and then, I'll get a shirt with an uplifting message or a church logo. I have to be very careful when I wear these. I can't lose my temper. I can't complain too much. I have to smile a lot. When I do slip up and act like a jerk, I have to explain that Christians aren't perfect, and we all make mistakes, and then I'm right back on the defensive again, all because of a T-shirt. It's enough to make me call L.L. Bean and see if flannel shirts are on sale.
David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Conyers and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.