Thursday, January 8, 2009


This is nothing but self-absorbed rambling. Don't say you weren't warned.

For between ten and fifteen years, I've only been interested in three luxuries: books, coffee, and sushi. As for everything else, I was perfectly happy living on the cheap. I didn't, and don't, care about where I live or what it looks like: I have a one-bedroom apartment with cheap furniture. Back in Texas, it was all garage sale furniture, and even though what I have now was actually store-bought brand new, it's still pretty sparse and on the lower end of the price range. I don't care about what I wear: I just stocked up on dress shirts for work, buying eight of them, two of which were Old Navy clearance, and the other six were Wal-Mart clearance. I don't have a big, spiffy TV set for the simple reason that I don't have, need, or want a TV set at all. Same for a cell phone. I drive my car just one day a week, so it's a rusting clunker with about the power you'd expect from a Hot Wheels. And the only music player I have is a tiny iPod shuffle that was a Christmas present from my brother's family, and I go weeks at a time without touching it.

But now I've got a new one. And I can't quite say I no longer care about what I wear. I've discovered a taste for really nice undershirts.

Now, don't get all squirmy. True, an undershirt is technically part of my unmentionables, but it's not like it's in any way private. We're not talking lingerie, here. I'm quite comfortable answering the door in an undershirt. (And pants, of course.) When I was in college, I went through about a year long phase when I wore nothing but plain white T-shirts everywhere I went. Of course, back then I wore the cheapest ones I could find. And from that day until very recently, I bought undershirts the same place I bought almost all my other clothing: Wal-Mart. Cheap, functional, does the job.

But somewhere along the line, I got some Stafford undershirts from J.C. Penney's, and they're a little thicker and a little sturdier. Bit by bit, I noticed that when I put laundry away, I'd pull those out and stack them on top, so they'd come up first in the queue. And then last summer, I somehow picked up a few Croft & Barrow undershirts, and all through the fall semester, they caught my attention. I'd put one on in the morning, and just have the little flicker of thought, "This is nice." And then, after Christmas, when everything was on sale, I did something I've never done before: I actually went into Macy's, which I consider the dark and evil temple of profligacy (yes, I know there are worse places, but I don't go to those neighborhoods) and spent money. I bought a couple of different brands of, and I can't believe I'm writing this, up-scale undershirts. And oo, they're nice. Like butter. Like velvet. Like sushi.

Can't say why I'm suddenly attracted to this new and utterly random luxury. But if this is as far as my mid-life crisis goes -- no motorcycle, no trophy bride, no skydiving, just the odd foundation garment -- then I'm probably in good shape. And in the coming days or weeks, I expect I'll come up with some entirely contrived insight into the evolutionary changes in my worldview that explain this, but for today, I think it's just a new quirk to join all the other old quirks.

Self-absorbed rambling I promised, and self-absorbed rambling I delivered.

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