Five years ago, while on vacation in San Francisco, I picked up a tank top in one of those little tourist traps on the pier. It was blue, said, “San Francisco” on the front, and retailed for about $2. As you might expect of a $2 shirt, I found that it wasn’t exactly perfect. It seemed to be sewed a little crooked. I put it in my pajama drawer where it still lives today. It still lives there because I still wear it. All the time.
It is in this way that I find tank tops to be ever-so-versatile. It is why I wish and wish that when I went merchandise shopping at a concert, they would have at least one tank top for sale. That has never happened.
After years of accumulating concert t-shirts that are now living a life of solitude in an extra drawer, I decided a few years ago that I should stop buying them. But, without sounding too consumerist, I knew I had to buy something at the show to add to my Paul Simon collection. I mean, it’s Paul Simon. Things bought at shows and on vacations are the best things, because they have sentimental value and they live our lives with us, instead of being whisked off to Goodwill with the season’s change. So, with no tank tops available, I went with an overpriced hoodie, because next to the tank top, a hoodie is probably the most useful thing in my wardrobe. Do I wish the design was a little more intricate? Yes. Do I wish it was a slightly less drab color? Yes. Do I wish that when the hood was down, it didn’t cover the little design that the shirt actually has? A thousand times yes. But it’s soft and warm and come fall I will wear it, so it’s much better than having to add to that overstuffed drawer.
I also bought a key chain, because those are also quite useful, provided one uses them and doesn’t put them in a drawer or box as a memento. The older I get, the more I see the wisdom in using and loving the precious things you buy, instead of trying to preserve them forever. Does that sound like the plot to Toy Story 2 to you?
On the previous tour, I bought a poster, which hangs next to my desk in my office.
I have found a few things more useful than a t-shirt at some of my shows, and the absolute best has to be the bag I bought at the Steely Dan show. I used this bag to carry (sheet) music, which makes sense for a bag bought at a concert. Plus, I love bags almost as much as I love tank tops, so it’s useful to me, even though I haven’t used it for a long time. I also got a free travel mug after signing up for a credit card. I still have the mug; I have no idea what happened to the credit card.
At a Pomplamoose show, my husband bought a hat, which he displays proudly but does not wear. We also bought a CD that is entitled, “the CD you bought at our show,” which is super handy for remembering that’s where it came from.
At the last Caspar Babypants show, I bought these adorable magnets that were designed by his wife. They are sturdy and strong and are great for hanging kid art on the ‘fridge. (Although they simply would not get any closer to each other than this for their picture.)
We bought a CD at the same show.
And then there are all the t-shirts. I wore the white Paul Simon one to the show last week, because I wanted to give it some love. It’s nearly old enough to vote. Of the four I have, it’s definitely my favorite design, and it probably fits slightly better than the gray and black ones, whose boxy fit and high-collars scream, “this shirt was made for a man!” The one that was actually made for a woman barely covers my belly button, which leads me to believe I bought it back when jeans were made NOT to show your ass crack every time you bent over.
So all of the shirts got trotted out for a little photo shoot, and are now back to hibernating in their drawer. I’ll keep them, because of the sentimental value, and who knows, maybe super giant boxy shirts will be back in fashion some day. One thing is for certain; Tank tops will never go out of style.