In the morning before heading out of the house, my dad usually conducted a ritual of interrogations before giving us clearance to join our schoolmates at the bus stop. The daily questions included, “Did you drink your juice?”, “Did you clean your ears?”, “Did you have a proper breakfast?”, and “Did you brush your teeth?” Aside from the probably less common ear hole hygiene inquiry, there was one other question my dad posed during the cold weather months that was a bit quirkier: “Did you put on an undershirt?”
Hold that thought from the 1980’s and time travel with me to 2014.
Many mornings, I zombie shuffle into the gym before work in the still dark hours. At least once monthly, I forget to pack a critical toiletry or item of clothing for the gym bag. Many a time I’ve either bummed shaving cream from whomever is standing next to me at the sink, gone commando because of forgotten undies, went beltless, or pulled a Nantucket wannabe going sockless in my dress shoes. It’s always something.
Recently, I was in the locker room after a shower. When I went to extract my clothes for the day, sure enough, I forgot the tight white tee. While the threat of a sweat pit soaking through the button down is a terror watch color of red from May to September, we were in the midst of an arctic freeze. Seeing as we were smack dab in February, the risk of a pit stain was low to very low. So, off I went without any concern that I’d have to alligator arm that day.
Twenty minutes later, as I crossed Federal Street towards my usual breakfast haunt, I suddenly became very self-conscious. I wasn’t worried about the turkeys being done with or without my parka pulled tight around me. No. What was it? I felt, well, braless without my tight white tee. That comforting layer of support around my upper torso and man boobs was conspicuously vacant. And the absence of cloth didn’t feel good in a free balling kind of way. It felt more like I was walking around with a broken fly, yet there was nothing I could do about it.
(Brief tangent: speaking of breast support, do women not named Autumn or Zephyr EVER forget to wear a bra to work, or does that warrant an immediate trip to the department store with the winter coat zipped up all the way? Or is this kind of oversight only more likely to occur with an A or B cupper? Or is cup size irrelevant in such a scenario? Would any woman ever even forget a bra under any circumstance before heading to work? I digress.)
During the remainder of my workday, I reflected on tight white tees while kicking myself for not packing one the night before.
Although I only occasionally dabble in the so-called “wife beater” – a terrible term I know but tank top fails to conjure the image immediately – they were more fun to wear when I was 20 and taking supplements. I also can’t shake the thought of a permanent mustard stain. In any event, I rock a regular old crew neck about 99% of the time.
As for the classic V-neck, I’m unaware of anyone within 20 years of my age who ever wore one on a consistent basis other than my old buddy Roshaun. (He wore a vee with glee because of that undershirt’s oddball status.) Hell, I don’t recall seeing anyone younger than 60 wear one since.
When it comes to Gusto, we follow a pretty standard “like father, like son” scenario. My post-work uniform typically consists of a tight white tee and shorts or jeans after I’ve stripped off the work monkey suit. So when I’m helping Gus into his PJs after bath, the first article of clothing that goes on after the pull-up is a 2T/3T crew neck. The smaller, the better because of the support. Once I wrestle the neck hole over his head, and guide his hands through the arm holes, we high five each other with a “Tight white tee!” celebration.
Gigi also likes to point out when she’s sporting a tank top with frilly shoulder straps as her own version of the tight white tee. As for the Tills, she’s typically donning a onesie over her diaper, which may or may not be prominently stained with cranberry juice that leaked through her overlaying top.
Where the hell am I going with this? Nowhere really, but any time I’ve nixed the idea of blogging about the undershirt, Gus or Greta will randomly come along and flash me to expose their tight white tee underneath. It had to be done. So to all you wife beater, vee neck, crew neck, tank top, or other undershirt wearing peeps, we Ts salute you on your tight white tees. Stay warm out there.