Tuesday, May 28, 2013

When I Saw Him Standin' There

In our various travels this weekend, Rick and I stopped to get gas.  The vehicle we started to pull in behind suddenly began backing out. 

"What's going on with that guy?" I said without thinking.

"The car ahead of him probably isn't done yet, and he doesn't feel like waiting," my patient husband replied.  In a few moments, he slid our Prius into the spot at the pump formerly held by the aforementioned Rogue Van. 

As Rick was pumping gas, I watched the lackadaisical SUV driver ahead of us.  He looked foreign, maybe Mediterranean or Slavic.  His clothes were a rumple of two shirts, dark pants, and slip-on sandals and socks.  He had hair falling into his eyes, and in his mouth was an unlit cigarette.  Done fueling, he simply stood at the rear of the car, doing I knew not what.

Pretty soon he wandered away, probably to have that cigarette, leaving his gassed up car parked at the pump.  In a few moments, a back passenger door opened.  Tumbling out as if he had been ejected or had fallen, a boy of about eleven or twelve appeared.  He was wearing a teeshirt and nylon basketball-type shorts, and his hair was moppy and Early Bieber-esque.  He was extremely chubby everywhere, and as he stood there, he scratched his considerable stomach, stretched, and then continued to merely stand there, shielding his eyes a bit from the sun, now and then jerking his head so as to flip the hair from his face.  A woman's voice called out something from the car, and he said, "But it's so hot in there.  And I'm tired."  Another admonition from the car.  It was ignored, and the man was nowhere in sight.  The boy stood there some more.

Rick finished up and got in the car.  As he did so, the boy turned around, and I got a glimpse of his teeshirt's slogan.  How good is this?

via www.spreadshirt.com
post header image via http://zenseeker.net


  1. Anonymous2:42 PM

    Delightful bit of irony, there. But what a stupid t-shirt. Nevertheless...

  2. Having taught middle school for about a zillion years, I'm positive your chubby little buddy had no idea that the shirt didn't apply to him. In his mind, he's probably just a phone call away from a career in the major leagues. Either that, or he didn't understand it. It's kind of like the people you see who wear t-shirts that say, "I'm sexy and I know it."

  3. MsCaroline--You know, way back when I was a vast pudding of a middle-schooler, I was painfully aware of my weight. There is NO WAY I would have ever worn anything that mentioned exercise, sexiness, hotness, bulkiness, or anything that anyone could have woven into an oblique reference to my weight. I feel like these days, young people are either much more comfortable with their self-image, or they simply have a sense of unconcern about it. Either one seems far more healthy than my panicky, obsessive mania regarding my body image.

    Ally--I am constantly alert to the Ironies Of Life. They're something that used to infuriate my father, but they always amaze and amuse me. I get the Machismo Competitiveness of the slogan, but in the case of this hapless kid, it's clearly misplaced.

  4. And speaking of self-image... there was a T-shirt that J.C. Penny came out with a few years ago, aimed at female tweens. It actually said:

    "I'm too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me."

    What were they thinking? Apparently not much, because their sales pitch was:

    "Who has time for homework when there's a new Justin Bieber album out? She'll love this tee that's just as cute and sassy as she is."

    There was such an uproar from social media over this that JCP pulled it right off their shelves and duly issued an apology for their stupidity.

    Apart from the blatant narcissism it foments, there's also the underlying message of "Why work for anything when all you have to do is be cute?" This stuff goes far beyond a false sense of self-esteem, but that in itself is such a dangerous trend that is producing kids who either don't see the forest for the trees (enter fat kid at gas station who thinks his message makes him a muscle man), but pretty much think everyone else is around to admire and serve them. I've said it before, but I deal with the product of this type of empty vanity on a daily basis. We need more people out there giving "You are not special (until you've earned it)" speeches.

    *Stepping down from soapbox.*

  5. Very perceptive piece, Nance. And the shirt could have belonged to his buffed-up older brother and this boy grabbed it off the clean-laundry pile by accident.

  6. That's just rich - ha! On long road trips, I have been that person standing around aimlessly beside the car. Although the car would NOT be by the pump after it was filled - Mike always moves it out of the way.

    I'm STILL too self-conscious about how I look to think about wearing something like that t-shirt - it's just asking for ridicule in my opinion.

  7. Bug--Your aimlessness would have been fine had you not been wearing a shirt that proclaimed your zest for physical activity. I loved how the boy's oblivion regarding that mirrored his father's as to the fact that his car was needlessly occupying a gas pump. Priceless.

    And I know what you mean about wearing anything that might feel uncomfortable. Years ago, the Cleveland Indians baseball team had a handsome young player named Grady Sizemore. I made a huge deal about how adorable he was. For my birthday, one of the boys got me a teeshirt from the Indians team shop that said "Mrs. Sizemore" on it with the Indians logo. I had to return it. It seemed icky, not to mention the fact that it basically could identify me as HIS MOTHER. Sigh.

    phoebes in santa fe--Hi there! How is New Mexico? (...but it's a DRY HEAT!) Thank you. I suppose that's possible, but it's still pretty funny!

    Ortizzle--I remember that whole teeshirt debacle. I even bookmarked the article as a possible blogpost topic. That and another one, by Disney. In that case, the boy version said "Be a Hero" and the girl version said "I Need a Hero", or something like that. But I didn't do it because there was really nothing new I would have added to the obvious conversations.

    Your point regarding vanity and entitlement are, of course, absolutely true. You and I have wailed about that issue in the classroom in discussions many times. I also think part of the problem is the lack of normal socialization of today's youth. Much of their lives takes place in a virtual world. They can boast of hundreds of virtual friends from all over the globe, but some of them have a hard time simply carrying on a conversation for more than five or ten minutes with someone who is physically right there. It's sometimes painful to watch. They can't sustain eye contact; they glance at their phones; they ask "huh?" or "what?" a dozen times. Most of the conversation revolves around what is on their phones. It's a little scary. Maybe it isn't a lessening of concern for what others think of them as much as it is a lessening of self-awareness. I wonder.

  8. Anonymous7:15 PM

    I'm personally against wearing shirts that say anything on them. I feel like anyone wearing a shirt that says something is trying to make a statement, and I can't think of a statement that I want to make to everyone I see in an entire day.

    One of my favorite shirts comes from a trampoline park that I like to go to. Its logo is a penguin with a jetpack (lord knows why that's their logo, but I've always been amused by it).

    - Mikey G.

  9. @Mikey G.— You are so on the mark about T-shirt messages and "making a statement." (I would extend that philosophy to bumper stickers as well!) I only have one T-shirt with a message, and I bought it to support the Spanish Honor Society. Its bilingual message says "Keep calm y habla español." I wear it on "casual Fridays" and final exam days, lol.

    @Nance — Yes! One of the huge ironies of the social media generation is that they live by tweets and texts and are becoming totally disconnected when it comes to face-to-face communication. It scares me, too. (We won't go into the aspect of how rude it is to be at a social gathering and have your cell phone out the whole time so you can connect with people who are NOT there!!)

  10. Mikey G--I am not as enamored of that logo as you are, but it is creative.

    I'm with you as far as slogans on shirts, but with me, I think I've aged out of it. I like funny sayings and things, but feel it's a bit beneath my dignity as a 54-year old to wear something like that. It's too "kiddish", as my Grandma Ethel used to say. I do have a dishtowel--a gift from my aunt--that says "Wine takes the Bitch right out of me." I like that.

    Ortizzle--Rick does not like me to put stickers of any kind on the car, but I do have my OEA decal on the back window of my hybrid SUV. Even though I'm retired, I'm still a big union gal and supporter of education. (It also makes my car easier to find in big parking lots. LOL)

    Regarding teeshirts in general: I hate them as a rule. The standard teeshirt fits horribly, has a terribly chokey neckline, and makes me feel like I'm showing off my bra. I know, I know...I'm a project.

    Having ranted about all of THAT, I will say that I like your SHS tee's slogan. Very fun and on trend, as they say. Mine might be "Keep calm and pour me a Chardonnay."

  11. I refuse to wear tees with any type of saying on them. I think some of them are cute, like ones from Threadless, but they are not for me, non-hipster that I am.

    Also, tees are not a large-bosomed woman's friend. At least, not ones with a crew neck.

  12. Gina--I am far, far, far from amply endowed, and I detest crew necks. I am broad-backed and they make me look like I'm suited up to play football. I'm a fan of the boatneck or the Vee.

    Hipsterism has passed me by, I'm afraid. I have what might be termed Hipster eyeglasses, but that is about it. That's okay. I've aged out of more things than that.

  13. You should have said, "Come back when you learn the definition of irony and we'll both have a big laugh!"


  14. Nance,

    I saw a teacher at our local High School wearing this shirt the other day and I thought you might like it,too.

    It read: Let's Eat Grandma
    Let's eat,Grandma
    Punctuation saves lives!

  15. Nancy--That's a good one. Correct punctuation certainly saves my blood pressure. (You are on my email list this week. Lucky, lucky!)

    Rainbow--Right? Bless his heart. Poor kid, he can't even wear a teeshirt without some crazy lady with a blog making a bigass deal out of it.


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