Does Anyone Else Have Certain Tattered Old Clothes You Just Can't Bear to Toss Out?

I fully acknowledge that I have had ample opportunities to throw this rag out, but it’s survived through countless rounds of clearing out my wardrobe for the local ASPCA thrift shop.

Dec 21, 2012 at 1:30pm | Leave a comment

I have a bright red Dr. Seuss t-shirt, that depicts Sam I Am from “Green Eggs and Ham,” that I cannot bear to throw out. It’s got a huge hole under one arm (thanks to a loose thread) that I take great pains to conceal when I do wear it. Its once-brilliant red has faded considerably, thanks to over a decade of washings. There is a mysterious ink stain on one of the shoulders, probably from years ago when my then-tiny fingers could not hold a pen correctly while drawing cartoons.

I fully acknowledge that I have had ample opportunities to throw this rag out, but it’s survived through countless rounds of clearing out my wardrobe for the local ASPCA thrift shop. It’s not worth a damn thing, so eBay is out of the question, and due to wear and tear, it will most definitely not become a family heirloom.


For some reason, I imagine my future hypothetical nieces and nephews clamoring to hear the story about Aunt Anna’s popular-culture-related shirt that she kept for WAY TOO DAMN LONG.

Most of the clothing items I throw out are beyond repair because they’re noticeably stained with oil, dirt or mud for some reason; a garment may be coming apart seam-by-seam and cannot be sewn back up in a way that would look presentable; or, the fabric has withstood so many wearings and washings that bits of the material are nearly translucent. In a few memorable cases, underarm sweat stains -- oftentimes the size and diameter of an appetizer plate or larger -- have been such a problem from a visual standpoint that I have thrown the shirts hosting such stains out immediately.

For some shirts and pairs of socks, a locked-in smell from repeated hard (read: active and sweaty, and in the case of socks, crammed into close-toed shoes or boots for 8+ hours along with a pair of prodigiously funky feet) wearing followed by exclamations of, “OH MY GOD, what is that SMELL? This needs to go in the washing machine twice,” and some hot washer/dryer action has been the problem, and usually signals that the garment should be headed straight for the trash bin.

The Sam I Am shirt -- even with the underarm hole and ink stain -- is not one of these. Oddly, it doesn’t smell like anything, even after ten-plus years of use.

Out of the probable hundreds of shirts that I have worn (in)to the garbage can of no return, I have affections for this one that I can’t quite place. I like “Green Eggs and Ham” well enough, although my favorite Dr. Seuss creation has to be “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” Most weirdly, though, the shirt still fits -- just not in the way that you’d think.


I can remember a time when this damn shirt hung down to my knees. Not anymore!

My nickname/nom de web is Annaham, so that connection to green eggs and ham would make the most sense -- however, if I were that wild about ham-related items of clothing, I would probably have many more (I do not). I love wearing the Sam I Am shirt for reasons I can’t entirely fathom, but as you can see from the above photo, wearing it is just so weirdly enjoyable, even with the flaws that my enjoyment of this shirt has caused.


Here’s an Instagram shot of Sam I Am-ed me and my dog, Winston, enjoying each other’s company. (Winston can probably smell this shirt’s history in a way that I cannot.)

I did recently spot this t-shirt online, so perhaps it may be time to permanently retire my shirt’s cracked and faded graphic of Sam I Am in favor of something that is somewhat suitable to wear in public -- and by “permanently retire,” I mean “stick it in a box somewhere so I can’t wear it, even if the urge strikes” and keep it for another decade. Once I find it again, then maybe I’ll throw it out. Maybe.

Readers, please tell me about the items of clothing that you have kept around, beyond all logic!