A group called Citizens Against T-Shirt Pollution reminds us that just as there is noise pollution, air pollution, soil pollution, water pollution, and light pollution, there is now T-shirt pollution. C.A.T-S.P. is not against people who wear T-shirts that need to be laundered or people who don’t look good in a Tee. No, C.A.T-S.P. is against the slogans, advertising, graphics, and one-upmanship on Tees that bombard us daily.
Few people know about Citizens Against T-Shirt Abuse. The only reason I do is that years ago I was the president of the Albuquerque chapter of Citizens Against the Display of Expired Bumper Stickers. Recruiters for C.A.T-S.P. thought that I’d be sympathetic to their cause and approached me.
I’m not entirely sympathetic. The two causes are not the same.
Citizens Against the Display of Expired Bumper Stickers (C.A.D.E.B.S) are against the display of weather-beaten bumper stickers that should have been removed years ago, even decades ago. Bumper stickers like “I Like Ike”. (Well, yes, many of us did like Ike. But the last time Ike was elected was what, 1956? He’s not exactly running in a mid-term.) Or “My Child is an Honor Student at Mesa Verde Mid-High.” (I know for a fact that this child grew up and now is principal at Mesa Verde Mid-High.) Or “I Survived Woodstock!” (Maybe so, but I also know that this person survived a heart attack and prostate surgery. Get something more recent to survive!)
I do agree with C.A.T-S.P., though, regarding vulgarity on T-shirts. I’m against vulgar slogans on T-shirts and sweatshirts and bumper stickers. One person’s trash(y F-word) is not necessarily another person’s treasure.
I’m also not terribly fond of clothing that advertises a product. If Nike wants to surround me with people wearing their brand, Nike ought to rent space on these person’s Tees and sweats and shoes. Say, if a person wears a Tee with Nike on it for two years, he/she gets back 50% of the purchase price.
And I get confused by organizational affiliations. When I see Harvard University on a sweatshirt, I wonder if this person actually went to Harvard. When I see U.N.M. Athletics across someone’s chest, I wonder if this person played a sport for U.N.M. Oftentimes it is hard to know. The most truthful Tees and sweats of this sort would also have a patch saying, “Goodwill” or “Christmas Gift” or “Hand-me-Down” or “Really. I even graduated.”
When it comes to one-upmanship slogans, I like a cartoon I once saw of three couples riding camels out of the town of Bethlehem on their way back to Nazareth. On the back of one donkey was a bumper sticker that said, “Our son is a lawyer.” On the back of the second donkey was a bumper sticker that said, “Our son is in medical school.” On the back of the third was “Our son is God.”
What I like for sure are amusing slogans. “Free Tibet…With the Purchase of Another Tibet of Equal of Greater Value.”… “If You Don’t Have a Seat at the Table, You’re Probably on the Menu.”… “Gardening is Cheaper Than Therapy and You Get Tomatoes.”… “I Dream of a World Where Chickens Can Cross the Road Without Having Their Motives Questioned.”
My wife and I were invited to a Post-Income Tax Day party a long time ago, April 1971. The excuse for this party was to celebrate having once again paid one’s taxes. And we were supposed to make our own T-shirts. This was back when the term “does it” was in vogue. So, one fellow had a Tee that read, “The I.R.S. Does It On a Tax Table.”
I went to the Bible to get mine. On my front it said, “Render Unto Caesar What is Caesar’s…Mk. 12:17”. And then on the back, “…And Drink a Little Wine For Your Stomach’s Sake…1 Timothy 5:23”. That was the only time I’ve ever been in the T-Shirt business.
We’ve all of us seen so many “I’m With Stupid” T-shirts that you’d think by now women would make better choices. Once I was driving along the highway when I passed a guy on a motorcycle. On the back of his jacket was, “If You Can Read This, My Old Lady Must Have Fallen Off.” It helped explain the woman crawling out of a bar ditch a few miles back. Other motorists had stopped to render assistance. All I could see was that she was wearing a jacket that said on the back, “I Was With Stupid”.
And when it comes to senior citizens, who doesn’t love a bumper sticker that says, “If You Don’t Like My Driving, Tell Someone Who Can Hear.”