A couple days ago, I ordered three black T-shirts on the Banana Republic website to replace the three black T-shirts that have spots on them.

How do you spot a black shirt? I’m not sure. Mine look like a painter flung paint at them and hit the bullseye.

The spotted black shirts caused me to take inventory. I emptied the shirt drawer to see where I was with colors other than black. The result was enlightening but not uplifting.

*** My favorite blue T-shirt had a yellow spot on it. Yellow like a banana, but not yellow like it was going to wash off.

*** The forest green T-shirt made in Peru, of which I am especially fond because it is exceptionally soft, has charcoal-like stains on both of the shoulders along with a grease spot in the stomach area. It’s as if I got tired and laid on the barbecue grill.

*** Who doesn’t like a blue shirt from Royal Robbins, billed as outdoor and travel clothing? Well, you’d like it less if it had an orange blur below your left rib cage as if a Cheeto spent the night there.

*** Call me dismayed by the baby blue soft wash T from Banana Republic with two red stains on the bottom that looked as if it were bitten by a shirt snake. At least I know that these were bleach stains from a misguided laundry experiment.

Why can’t the shirts be stained on the back? If they were, unless we entered a room backwards or had conversations with people facing the other way, spots wouldn’t be a problem.

Perhaps a better strategy is to put them on backwards to begin with, stain them and then flip them around when the staining season has passed.

Most stains happen in the kitchen. I wear an apron when I’m cooking bacon or eating bread glistening with olive oil or butter that might spatter when I tear the bread with my teeth.

Aprons are good but you can’t wear one during every meal because it looks funny. You’re not Julia Childs. You might as well go shirtless underneath the apron and try for the Chippendales look.

If you go shirtless under the apron, do not answer the door should your saintly neighbor come knocking in order to give you some fresh figs.


When do you give up on a T-shirt? One spot, two spots? I feel the same way about spotted T-shirts as I do patches on a bike tube. Once you patch a tube three times, you’re tempting fate.

If you insist on going the distance with a shirt, people will probably start talking about you behind your back as in: “He sure wears spotted shirts a lot. Do you think he knows?”

He knows but he doesn’t want to accept it. He knows, he just doesn’t want to give up on a T-shirt when it has reached the height of its softness. A well loved T-shirt can be our favorite article of clothing.

“What you ought to do is use the spotted shirts for the garage,” a friend said. “When you work outside.”

I would. I do. Great idea except the plastic bin in which I store my outside work clothes in is so full I can barely press the lid down. Do you need more than six spotted shirts to trim the plumbago?

The black shirts are on their way. I’m good for awhile. Good until I wake up in the morning with my arms open and greet the day.

Herb Benham is a columnist for the Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at hbenham@bakersfield.com or (661) 395-7279.

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