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.

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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.

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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.

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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!