Longtime readers of The Chronicles (both of them) are painfully familiar with my penchant for foil hats. At least thats what some people believe, I tend to view myself as rather prescient, thank you very much. Awhile back I was lamenting the fact that farmers all too often wind up farming the subsidies, not the market. A good example would be those who quit growing cotton. Currently, there is a worldwide shortage of the type used to make denim. ALL OF THE COTTON CROP CURRENTLY BEING GROWN IS ALREADY SPOKEN FOR. All of it. Clothing manufacturers are clamoring for all they can get, and some, faced with both a shortage and the inevitable price spikes, are forced to explore substituting man made materials like polyester. (I have a lime green leisure suit with lapels that look like a hang-glider folded up in my closet, may be time to bring those babies back, Jack)
So, tee-shirts, khakis, jeans, and Q-tips will cost you more to buy. You. Not me. Long ago, I discovered the brilliance that is used clothing. I became a loyal customer of thrift stores right around the same time I became a farmer. There is a reason for that. I’d love to spin a tale of a hardscrabble existence, complete with hitching mules to plow the lower 40, egg candling and tree-felling, but the embarrassing truth is that I’m too broke to buy my puffy pirate shirts at Macys. Me and Noah were killing time recently at a local mall, and we were admiring a paper thin t-shirt until he read the price tag: $32.00
For a t-shirt.
Anyway, I shop at GoodWill. Back in the day, I’d park Black Cloud Follows (the truck I bought from a bunch of drunken Navajo Indians) and walk into the place with my checking account holding upwards of 47 bucks, and walk out with a complete winter wardrobe and still have 40 to blow on a bottle of tequila. Good times good times. Plus, I was the only guy in the place, so the selection was fabulouso. (Ha, spell-checker HATED that word) It was usually just me and a handful of elderly matrons, who spent their time sifting through the wreckage of used kitchen items or linens. Boy, have times changed. Now, not only is the place lousy with other dudes, but the women-folk are now doing all day excursions and buying up everything in sight. I’m talking well-heeled and sensibly accessorized MILFs running amok and hoarding all the orange tag stuff. It’s hard out there for a working man.
I needed a few cotton shirts to wear, as I do tend to ruin mine pretty quickly. The first thing I do is check the sale tag, which in the 9 years, 4 months, 20 days I have been going, is always orange. They set that stuff in the center of the aisle, and I have it down to a science. There are only two or three types of shirts I’ll buy, and about six or seven manufacturers that I trust. I check the neckline or collars first, then the sleeves, then hold it at a 45 degree angle against the glaring lights to check for stains. If it isn’t threadbare or stretched out, I’m in. Today, right as I walked in, I spotted a “baseball” type of shirt I am partial to and it was on the sale rack. Unfortunately, a woman, who I’d guess was around 65-70 but remarkably spry, fixed on it at that exact same moment. It was on. Though she was closer, I gripped both sides of a bin holding over-priced VHS tapes (3 dollars!) and swung up over it and hit the floor at a dead run. Breath in through your mouth nose, Mack, out through your mouth. At a full sprint, I reached out and lunged toward the garment but our hands both clasped it simultaneously. A bigger man would have politely tipped his hat and let the old bitty have it. I did kinda the same thing, except I added an elbow jab into her sternum, then hip-tossed her under an adjacent display of robes and pajamas. Old people sound funny when they fall, right?
I quickly glanced at the other sale items but couldn’t linger as I had an appointment, (plus I wasn’t sure how long she’d stay unconscious) and I did find a nice white all cotton shirt that looked brand new. I can’t tell you how many shirts I’ve found at GoodWill with the original price tags still intact. I always jump around like an idiot and shove it the faces of passing customers while I do what looks like a touchdown dance, or a drunk man crossing an icy street.
I buy shirts and hats from GoodWill. Since all I ever wear is jeans these days, a new seasonal wardrobe runs me under 20 bucks.
I’m considered quite the dandy ’round these parts.