My grandma taught me to love thrift stores, which she called “next to new stores,” at a young age. There is nothing better than spending a couple of hours rummaging through pre-loved clothes and leaving with some gems you couldn’t find anywhere else. Though I thrift everything from sweaters and jeans to home decor, there is one thing I most frequently find myself adding to my cart: t-shirts. I’m not talking plain tees or cutesy little crop tops — I opt for t-shirts so odd that they bamboozle anyone who sees them.
Since COVID-19 has limited both my strange t-shirt shopping sprees and ability to flex my shirts in public settings, I have decided to share a select few here on the interweb instead. Each morning, as I channel my “Minion or da bob fo today” energy, this is the selection of t-shirts I am most likely choosing from.
Obama on a Lion
This one is a doozie, that’s for sure. The more you look at the graphic, the more confusing it gets. I love The Mountain, the brand of this shirt, and seek out their products often. In fact, I own several variations of this shirt, including a white tiger, wolf, and sloth version. However, the Obama shirt takes the cake. It has something for everyone — Obama supporters, crossbow enthusiasts, Star Wars fans, Joe Exotic … you get the idea. This shirt has confused everyone from the kids I nanny to a barista at Norbucks. I can’t wait until the next time I can wear it outside and see all of the puzzled expressions I get.
Grouchy Old Fart!
I’m not going to lie, I racked my brain trying to recall why I made this purchase and came away empty-handed. This plain black shirt with white lettering, which reads “Grouchy Old Fart! Go Ahead, Ask Me,” is really odd. Though I am occasionally grouchy, I do not consider myself to be anything near an “old fart.” I think that is part of the allure of the shirt: I don’t even know what it means or why I choose to wear it. To quote the one and only Chazz Michael Michaels, “No one knows what it means, but it's provocative ... it gets the people going!”
The Original Bad Hair Day
Okay, this one is kinda scary. It gave me major Goosebumps cover art vibes at the Goodwill I bought it from, so I couldn’t resist adding it to the haul. Again, I am not quite sure what it means, but when I wear it I think of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, so that’s cool. All in all, it’s a unique piece that allows me to own my bad hair days with flair. I also sport it on the occasional full moon, just to see what happens.
Deer in the Woods
This shirt is a The Mountain copycat (and a terrible one at that). The graphic is like three pixels, weirdly oversaturated and contrasted, and, for some reason, the main deer’s fur is so ripply that it resembles a topographic map. Naturally, I had to have it. From the deer that my grandpa almost hit with his car when I was little to Elliot from the critically acclaimed film Open Season, deer have always had a special place in my heart. The last time I wore it, I got an overwhelming number of judgemental looks from Norris-goers, and I can’t wait to come back to campus and keep the streak going.
I Love Bingo!
This shirt, in my opinion, is just downright cute. If I recall correctly, I picked this one up this summer at a Goodwill in the women’s pajamas section, and it was love at first sight. Not only is everything Betty Boop adorable, but who doesn’t love bingo? I’m not talking about those annoying Instagram story bingos that everyone, myself included, keeps posting. I’m talking about real bingo complete with one of those weird wire contraptions, every color of bingo marker in existence and a room full of competitive elderly folks. I, like the shirt says, love bingo and am not afraid to show it.
CTA Rail System Map
The most recent addition to my t-shirt collection has a complete map of the CTA rail system. I copped it at the Evanston Goodwill, and it was probably the best item I picked up on that trip. The more I think about it, however, the more impractical it seems. It’s far easier to look at a map on your phone or the wall of a train car than one on your own body that’s upside-down from your perspective. However, the concept is there and the colors are cool, so I had to grab it.
Last but certainly not least is my John Cena shirt. This shirt has been to hell and back with me. I got it going into my senior year of high school and, though I’m not superstitious, I think it’s my good luck charm. I wore it when I moved in on my first day at Northwestern and, according to one of my floormates, it made me seem intimidating. How I was able to come across as intimidating while sporting a cropped John Cena shirt that says “You Can’t See Me!” is a question that I will never have the answer to, but I’ll take it. I love all of my weird shirts, but my love for this one eclipses the rest. Frankly, I would like to be buried in this shirt.