It must be said, first off, that men are genetically incapable of throwing away T-shirts. What this means is that, over time, men who have a tendency of wearing T-shirts accumulate quite a collection. Such is the case with me.
I store my T-shirts in the lower drawer of our bedroom dresser, and it was getting to the point where the wood itself was probably ready to burst. That's when I decided that it was time to go through the lot and remove the ones that either should be thrown out, or put into storage for some unknown point in the future.
I felt like an archaeologist of garments, working my way through the contents of the large drawer, pulling out T-shirts, identifying their origin, and designating their fate. Naturally, I had to unroll each one and see what it was all about. By doing so, I ended up with a trip down Memory Lane, recalling the circumstances behind each shirt.
My oldest T-shirt is an Origins '78 T-shirt (held at the Ann Arbor campus of U of Michigan). For those not in the know, Origins is to wargames/boardgames what GenCon is to D&D. Before I got into D&D, my big passion was boardgames, particularly historical simulations.
Someday, if I ever get into a rules argument with some munchkin at a gaming con, I eagerly look forward to saying something like "Listen, punk, I have gaming t-shirts that are older than you!"
The next oldest was a t-shirt from a pub in Bermuda, purchased on my honeymoon during my first marriage. That relic came from 1982.
From somewhere around that time period there was also a t-shirt made by a talented old friend of mine named Jeff. We've lost touch, but he used to be one of our gamers. He created this stylized dog named "Sparky", and eventually put the design on a t-shirt, and I got one. Jeff eventually left for the West Coast to become a screenwriter, and ended up writing episodes of X-Files and Angel.
It's amazing, the stuff one recalls by simply going through a bunch of old t-shirts.
My oldest Red Sox t-shirt comes from 1987. Snoopy is on it. I'm not sure why. (Depressing realization sidebar: Charles Schultz is no longer with us, and Snoopy sells friggin' life insurance). There's also a Celtics T-shirt from the Bird/Parrish/McHale era. My sports-related t-shirts have been replenished over the last decase, with a 2004 World Series champs shirt, a 2007 one, and t-shirts with Matsuzaka and Okajima numbers. I even have a Seibu Lions (Dice-K's old team in Japan) t-shirt.
There's some topical t-shirts, like my "Don't Blame Me, I Voted For Bill and Opus" T-shirt, or my Ren & Stimpy t-shirts, including one with Mr.Horse ("Nossir, I don't like it!"). Definite relics of the 80's.
It should come as no surprise that many of my T-shirts are gaming related. There's a whole slew of them from various ConnCons and GenCons, even one or two from the RPGA. They range from the late 80's to mid 90's.
As big of a fan of REM as I am, you'd think I'd have REM t-shirts in abundance. Sadly, this is not the case. Ironically, I wore those particular t-shirts so much that they did indeed overcome even the ingrained male tendency not to throw out old t-shirts, and are now gone forever. I do have one REM shirt, a tour shirt from the late 90's, but even that one is a replacement, secured by Carol. The original was worn to a frazzle.
Superheroes are well represented...there's a Green Lantern t-shirt, a Superman one (except that it's black), and a Flash t-shirt.
I have some slogan t-shirts, but not many. My oldest one is from the late 80's, and it says simply "Whatever". One of my favorite slogan t-shirts is missing ("I may grow old, but I'll never grow up").
One t-shirt that I pulled out of the pile made me chuckle. It was a Wild Wild Web t-shirt, a leftover from my days of working at a dot.com in the very late 90's. That particular company rolled over and died in 1999 during the start of the Great Dot.Com Collapse. I was hired to work at a second Dot.Com, started by a handful of survivors of the previous one. I worked there for four months, then got a huge pay raise, then worked there another three months, then the layoffs started, and I was one of the first to go.
Ah, good times!
Nowadays, I find I have a lot of horror-based t-shirts, such as a promotional t-shirt from FearNet, a bunch from HorrorFind, Barrett's Haunted Mansion, haunt gatherings, Salem Mass, etc.
There's also the work-related T-shirts, from various software companies, or blood-drive shirts.
But yeah...t-shirt introspection. A chronicle of where I've been, and where I am now.