It’s held its color well, probably because it was an early shot in the fully artificial fabric wars. Ring-spun, so it’s breathable and doesn’t stick to me on a hot day like the seat cover from a 1960s sedan, the chest of it is proudly bespangled with the logo of a school I went to once.

Being black through the body and sleeves, it has that “slimming effect” and I think it makes me look young, even if I was fifty-plus pounds smaller when I bought it out of an L.A. campus bookstore back in grad school. I mean, I don’t buy a workout and lounging t-shirt all that often; this is one of the new ones, dating, as it does, only back to 1993.

So you can imagine my surprise when the hot girl on the broccoli aisle at Trader Joe’s (fortunately my own girl, AFAIK) glanced over at me, arched one lush, Levantine eyebrow and observed, “Getting kind of thin.”

“Aw,” I blushed. I’ve been working out some. “Black makes me look a little leaner.”

Only one of us knew that morning’s number, after all — not the BP, which since the little stroke (or what she calls my “warning shot”) is always shared, but the other number — and that number had been precisely and digitally rendered at 233.2, which I think we can all agree is a substantially and properly American number.

“The fabric, you goof!” She giggled at me, which is always a surprise and sometimes a delight. “Your shirt is getting thin in the fabric.”

“Damn.” But then I looked down my front and was not, in the main, disappointed at all. The logo is a little crunchy — it has that borrowed-cool, weathered, “patina” look that you have to pay extra for in Facebook ads — but the body is still black-ish, the shoulder seams are unpopped, and there aren’t any holes bigger than a cigarette scar. It beats most of my bike shirts for fit and finish, its only serious deficiency consisting in an unremembered, supra-belt protrusion.

Where that came from, I have no idea. I shall have to write the factory.

Actually, it does have one other functional issue, but it’s one I can’t rightly blame on an innocent t-shirt: the “breathable” poly cloth is beyond a magnet for dog fur; it’s a veritable tractor beam. And our dog — specifically her dog, which is to say, the giggler’s dog — is a cross-stitched lacy froth of fluff, the kind of dog no self-respecting big dog household would consider allowing over the stoop, let alone buying at purebred prices, and also a dog which produces — at a staggeringly prodigious rate! — long, curly hairs of astonishing tensile strength that range in tone from dusty charcoal strands through angelic puffs of white.

There are millions of ‘em. They breed in the night. Puffy batts of tangled, dusty dog wool drift up in every crevice, seemingly by the minute. Sweeping will never be enough. We give away fat bags of the stuff to spook ruminants out of deer friends’ gardens, but really we ought to take up spinning it, then just hook up to crochet some sweaters.

It’s the snowy white hairs that seem to cling hardest to black shirts — and by “cling,” I mean to say that they wind themselves through the fabric, latching in and coil-binding so hard that a guy needs to lock his fingertips onto each hair end like the pincer claws of a Vise-Grip plier, grit his teeth and yank — and the Hell of it all is that, as a motorcyclist of long if not remaining standing, I have a whole closet full of dusty black t-shirts that are now (apparently unlike my old grad school tee) wearing out very slowly. They pair nicely with the black cloth upholstery in our car, so if you need me this weekend, you’ll probably find me bending into the back seat with a tweezer and some actual Vise-Grips, mumbling incoherently, four letters at a time.

All of which is to explain why, after looking down my front, there in the Trader Joe’s, bellied up alongside the broccoli aisle and just across from stacked apples that couldn’t be beat, and realizing that not only was there one unapproved protuberance but indeed enough clinging, whitish hairs to tat me a doily, if I only remembered what a doily was or ever knew how to tat, I began absent-mindedly, yet aggressively (remember the requisite, vise-like grip) tugging Puffbat hairs out by their ends.

Pulled one out, then another. The third one took four tries to extract. I was frustrated. Some days it’s okay to be covered in dog hair, or baby vomit, transmission fluid, or your own blood — this can be the entirely reasonable cost of living in the moment — but other days you might just feel, ya know, slightly more socially vulnerable than that.

Stupid dog!

We had progressed along to the eggs and milk part of the mission by the time I got around to the fourth hair on my shirt. It was long, curly, greyish-white, and looked like it was really wound in there. I could swear it was squinting at me. Through the bottoms of my progressive trifocals, I squinted right back. These damned dog hairs were trespassing all across my hopefully vintage-cool t-shirt, right there in that respectable, suburban, vaguely hipster foodmongery, and I was not having it. Cognizant of the embarrassing tribulations recently accompanying Hair Number Three, I pinched that sucker hard between my finger and thumb, bore down, and yanked on it like I was pull-starting a D8 Cat.

Yeah, that one was a chest hair.

One day, far in the future, when the echoes of my shrieks have died away over the mounded fruit, we may return to that TJ’s. That’s the day I’ll upgrade to a more finished look.

Maybe something in a stout, off-white twill.

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