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One Hundred and Twelve Shirts



Wednesday Stories

Written by MJ Reporter Willow LaMunyon


I counted my shirts, all of them, from party blouses to tee shirts. There were 112 shirts that I owned. One hundred and twelve. Holy clothes, Batman. It was embarrassing to own so much more than I will ever need. I decided to do something about it.


I started with my fancy blouses, the kind that I only wear on special occasions. They made quite a display spread out on my bed. The first one I picked up was red with shiny black trim and absolutely beautiful. I wore it for Christmas several years ago, just that one time. It would be wasteful to get rid of something with so little use, but I did not need it anymore, zero, nada. I would like to think some formal occasion would arise when I could dress so formally. I also knew if it did happen, I would want a new blouse. The very first blouse I picked up was also the first one to go. I left it on the hanger since I discovered it was easier for the thrift shop to take care of clothing that way. It deserved that respect even though I couldn’t remember which Christmas I wore it nor what I wore with it, fancy slacks maybe or a velvet skirt, nope, no idea. There went my excuse for keeping it because of a sentimental attachment.


The thrift shop was going to get a real boost in party blouses. I kept four. That is right, just four, and I wasn’t sure I actually needed that many. It felt wasteful and like I was tossing away part of my past but seeing the extra closet space gave me a minor thrill. I had also outgrown several, so not seeing that reminder of a thinner past was going to be good for my ego.


Next came work blouses. They were all proper and business-like. Sorting them didn’t take long because I had donated a lot of them after I retired. That had felt like a celebration of release from regimented days and getting up early. I had to wonder what had inspired me to keep as many as I did. This time I kept just two: one summer style and one for winter. I knew I would need those for funerals.


Casual shirts were next. They were a mixture of blouses and tee shirts that looked nice but not dressy or shabby. Most of my shirts were in this group. It took more than an hour to go through them, and I liked all of them. This was going to be difficult. It was time to take a deep breath and a break so I could eat some chocolate to help give me courage.


Some didn’t fit properly. They were too small or so large they looked sloppy. Still, the pile on my bed was formidable. I tried on some and promised myself I would wear a few that I didn’t use within the week or donate them. I also found stains on others, those I donated to the trash. It did occur to me that I could cut them up for rags, but I had plenty of rags, so screw that. They would end up as a pile of old shirts that I never got around to cutting up anyway. I was very happy with the remainder of them. After all, they were the ones I wore most often.


I think it is best that I don’t mention how many of those I kept. My closet was starting to fill up again, but at least they were not packed tight.


There was one last batch of shirts. They were all tee shirts that I got as festival souvenirs, tourist traps on this vacation or that, protest marches, shirts given to me because I was a volunteer, and of course, a few Christmas, Halloween, and July 4th tees. Some were stained; some didn’t fit well; some I knew I would never wear again. I suspect that you have already guessed it. I kept all of them because memories are sometimes wearable.


I spent a minute admiring my tidy and well-organized closet where I could easily find what I wanted. It felt good. During the next week, it finally occurred to me that I was not going to wear the shirts I had set aside to wear or donate; so, I donated them.


Human nature is indeed strange. I went shopping a couple of days ago and got two new shirts. I really, really, really need to stay away from clothing stores in order to prevent filling my closet again.



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