I love the junk stores on the Boardwalk and the displays of t-shirts bursting out of these shops. Every store is the same in the same way, the same merchandise and same prices. You won’t find a “deal” in one store that you wouldn’t anywhere else. Each of the stores have different names but they oddly all the same stuff like Chinese take-out restaurants.
The t-shirts themselves are usually ill-fitting and stiff, and will shrink down to the size of a shrinky-dink after a spin in the dryer. The decals on the shirts range from benign stuff—the various faces of dog breeds—to those that glorify binge drinking and shirts with misogynistic and other negative implications. I wonder who buys these shirts—and stretching my imagination further—who the hell wears them. People in the “midwest,” probably. I’m afraid of people in the midwest. They have freakishly long legs.
I’ve seen the same shirts so many times over the years that I’m immune to decals of a stoned Sponge Bob or “if you can read this, the bitch fell off” sayings on these beach shirts. They’re not even on my radar. But each year, there’s something spectacularly bad that catches my eye, something truly weird in a new and inspiring way. My senses are constantly overwhelmed on the Boardwalk, but there’s a special kind of shirt that jumps out from all the sounds, smells, and sights.
Here are some of my favorites among those shirts:
Little Dog Holding a Flower
Here’s Scruffy, or whatever you want to call him, printed on an adult-sized pink t-shirt. Holding a rose. I think it’s the dog from the movie adaptation of Annie.
It reminds me of a shirt you’d give someone in a nursing home, someone bound to a bed, someone who’d like to wear something other than a nightgown, but wouldn’t feel bad about dribbling mashed peas on it. Picture it: pea green on that pink. You wouldn’t feel bad about a little drool.
Next are a pair of shirts in the genre of Animals BURSTING Through the Chest shirts:
Completely psycho. A unicorn ripping out of the fabric of the shirt, leaping from your sucking chest cavity. And while a part of me likes the shark one, I cannot condone it. The person wearing these shirts probably collects ceramic dragons.
I Don’t Do Mornings
Then there’s this shirt—adult-sized, I must note—in a sherbet colored kitty cat shirt. I imagine the wearer of this shirt also has a mug with the saying “I’ve got Cattitude,” a wooden sign hanging in their living room that reads, “no outfit is complete without a little cat hair,” and a page-a-day calendar of What Cats Teach Us, which she promptly keeps up with ripping the days off. I feel like barfing. She also calls her husband her “hubby” and is actually quite annoyingly cheerful in the mornings, despite her shirt.
Also, I think that cat is sick for wearing decapitated bunny heads.
You’d have to be a jackass to wear it. The person wearing this shirt has gums that protrude a bit like this donkey. They brag about the holes in walls that they’ve punched. They purposely order shots in bars which the bartender has never heard of, and then they act incredulous when the bartender doesn’t know it. Their hobbies are power washer hoses, John Deere tractors, and Robert E. Lee dioramas. They live in places more frightening than the Midwest. Like West Virginia.
What the hell is going on? I don’t even know the kind of person who would wear this shirt, so let’s just give it to Grandma. Grandma wears this shirt.
Giant Horse Head
This looks like an actual-sized horse head. It looks like I went to the Appaloosa Ranch, fed the horses some apples, and then went right up to this one and took its picture. This decal is that huge. The person who wears this shirt has never used a hairdryer. And they like trail mix. A lot of it.
American Idol Jesus
Jesus’s performance of Whitney’s I Have Nothing was a little pitchy, but worship not these false other idols. Choose Jesus. I can’t wait to see what he does on Disco night.