I had to buy a shirt today.
I hate buying shirts.
I really hate buying shirts. In fact, I could endlessly stack intensifier atop redundant intensifier to relate how unpleasant I find shirt shopping to be, but I don’t think it’d adequately convey the real dread that shopping for a collared shirt holds for me. Show don’t tell, right? This is what buying a collared shirt is like for me:
Problem: Need a shirt.
Solution: Go to the large department store across from work.
Problem: Walk in I’m overwhelmed by options.
Solution: Assess what it is I really need.
Problem: I hate buying shirts. I want to ensure I don’t have to buy another shirt for quite some time.
Solution: Go for something simple, versatile. A white shirt, there’s nothing more basic than a white shirt.
Problem: White shirts often go pseudo see-through.
Solution: Find something in a more robust fabric. Perhaps something non-iron? I hate ironing, so this would be perfect.
Problem: I’ve got a strange body shape. Shirts always look odd on me.
Solution: Get one of the attendants to measure me.
Problem: I now know I’m 15/33, but these shirts still look terrible. They look baggy and lumpy, they puff out at the wrong places.
Solution: The attendant suggests getting slim fit shirts. They’ll cinch in at the right places. Successfully find slim fit shirt with the right colour, robust non-iron fabric and correct sizing. Try the shirt on.
Problem: Tucked in it still puffs out on the sides above my pants, despite being slim fit. Feel uneasy about how this makes me look. Feel large around the midsection, overweight. Self-image starts to plummet. This is meant to be the right shirt, I found the correct size and everything. Maybe the problem isn’t the shirt, the problem is me.
Solution: Talk to the attendant about the fit of the shirt. He suggests getting it altered at their in-store alterations department. Take the shirt off.
Problem: They can’t alter a shirt I haven’t purchased. If they’re not able to alter the shirt I will have paid $55 for a shirt that makes me feel like shit. At this point I start feeling a little anxious.
Solution: The attendant says I can take the shirt to the alteration place, discuss my issue with them and they can tell me if anything can be done or not. Find the alterations department. Alterations employee gets me to put the shirt back on. Tuck in the shirt. Alterations employee looks at it, then asks me to untuck the shirt. Says that they can deepen the dars on the shirt. It will cost around $25.
Problem: The shirt cost $55 and now alterations will be a further $25. If everything gets done and I still hate it I’ll not only hate myself for looking like a disgusting piece of shit but I’ll be $80 out of pocket for a shirt I don’t like.
Solution: Keep breathing. Take the shirt off. Realise that I need a decent white shirt in my life one way or another and that they can only do what they can. This needs to happen. Start to hate myself for my inability to look the way I want to look. Go back to the attendant and buy the shirt. Take the shirt back to the alterations place.
Problem: They won’t be able to get me the shirt until next week. I need the shirt for a work party Saturday night. I’ve already bought the shirt. If I return it I still won’t have a shirt and I’ll have to start this whole mess over again.
Solution: KEEP BREATHING. Go to another alterations place. This place is smaller, the guy says they can do it for me by end of business Friday, no problem. Put the shirt on again. Tuck the shirt in to show the alterations guy the issue. He says he can do it. Gets me to untuck the shirt. He pins it up. Gets me to tuck the shirt back in.
Problem: Even pinned, the shirt still puffs out a little at the sides. I’m now convinced I can’t blame the shirt, it’s just body fat. Hate the body fat. Look at the rest of my body in the mirror. Feel disheartened by my puffy cheeks, soft features and indistinct cheek bones. Is this what I look like? Is this what I always look like? Hate the way I look even more. How can people find me attractive? They can’t. They don’t. Anyone who ever said they did has been lying. It’s a joke. I’m a joke and I don’t even know it. I’m worthless, pathetic. Do I need to change the way I eat? Calorie count? Stop drinking again? Stop drinking altogether? Adopt a food is fuel mentality and dismiss one of my favourite pleasures in life? Withdraw from social contact because I don’t want to be around people when I don’t even want to be around myself? Distance myself from everyone who loves me because I don’t feel worthy of their affections? The alterations guy says he’s done all he can with the shirt. Shirts just naturally hang out a little. His reasoning is lost on me while I’m mired in my own self-loathing.
Solution: Realise that this is just the way it’s going to be. This is the best possible way the shirt can look and it still doesn’t look the way I want it to because I don’t look the way I want to. A shirt can’t make me like myself. This is just how life is. Just accept it. Anger, misery and hopelessness mix together in a vaguely numbing fashion. Disassociate from emotion into stillness. Desire or enjoyment of anything seems like a foreign concept. Pay the man for his work. Take the shirt off again. Ride the bus home in a borderline fugue state.
Problem: I still haven’t done my daily writing. Don’t feel like writing.
Solution: Do it anyway. Hold onto insane hope that putting words out on a page will help, that venting in itself is a form of catharsis. Start to feel better as emotion subsides and perspective drifts back in. Realise that in the macrocosm of existence I am beyond infinitesimal and this will not matter. I do not matter. The shirt does not matter and anyone who would judge me for how the shirt looks matters less. Nobody will care about the shirt as much as I do, therefore I shouldn’t care about the shirt because it’s a fucking piece of fabric.
Problem: I hate shirts. I hate wearing them, buying them and the apprehension that comes with knowing I need one.
Solution: Become a nudist.