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I Got This at The Ani Show, and My Number Is . . .

2003-10-16 - 10:54 a.m.

Two nights ago, I saw the one and only Annie DeFazio in concert for the first time in my life. It was a fabulous eveing, with more lesbians and more weed than I have ever encountered in one place in my life. She played a lot of my favorites, like "32 Flavors," "Little Plastic Castle," "Names Dates Times," and "Evolve," which had me dancing around like a freak. There was a lot of audience banter, some of which came during the middle of songs. She stopped during her opener, "Shy," to tell us that she had written the song about events that happened in Austin, which is one of her favorite towns. She played some beautiful new songs, and closed with this poem about loving her country, which to her meant loving the people--ancestors and activists--who had fought and struggled to make America the country it dreamed of being. There was this girl who, when Ani said, "I love my country" after explaining all the stuff about ancestors, yelled out "I don't!" and kinda giggled. I was ready to slap her. I mean, if it's more important to you to hear your own voice rather than the person you paid $41 to listen to, save the $41 and go to an open mike night. Despite this, the evening was liberalicious and highly entertaining, and I left with a T-shirt for me and one for my good friend Teach, who's doing her part by educating kids in the Bronx about the joys of the English language.

Because T-shirts are important.

As I have stated before in my diary, I do not do well with cute strangers. If anyone reading this doesn't know me personally, I promise that I am witty and charming and affable, provided I've been properly introduced. If not, I tend to develop lockjaw, as well as lockarms and lockbrain. Also, the corners of my mouth naturally turn down, so it's very hard for me to do the "small, pleasant smile" that's supposed to put people at ease. All I can manage is "semi-sarcastic grimace." And my "big, bright, happy smile" would just make people think I was phony, psycho, on drugs, or any combination of the three.

Enter the T-shirt: the easiest, best icebreaker money can buy.

Now, the fashion conscious may argue that any great article of clothing is a conversation piece. Carson on Queer Eye (who, the more I watch, reminds me more and more of my sixty-something aunt--they both frequently have drinks in hand and have very similar taste in clothes) would no doubt argue that a classic Ralph Lauren sweater can do more for your social life than a matchmaker on meth, but I think you need to be a certain kind of person for this to work when it comes to meeting people. It's great on a date, but what about at a party? Sure, someone can come up to you and say "Hey, great cardigan, where did you find it?" but that only goes so far, and only works really well for gay people (because it's not often that a woman will say "Hey, where can I get an Armani suit with a coordinating paisley tie like yours, big boy?")

However, for those of us who wouldn't know Vivienne Westwood from Jean-Paul Gaultier if we were sleeping with them, the T-shirt allows you to start a conversation with people who, if you plan your T-shirts right, have similar interests, ideas, pass-times, and senses of humor. Whether it's concert tees, tees relating to favorite pop-culture phenomena, or just tees that make you laugh, you can meet people in a new town or display yourself in front of the cute guy at Whole Foods without having to say a word.

What cute guy at Whole Foods? Hee hee hee . . .

So, before the Terry Pratchett signing on Monday, I went to Whole Foods for some yummy food centered around a "Fall" theme (sweet potato pancakes . . . mmmmmmmm) clad in my Tori Amos 5.5 Weeks Tour T-shirt. I got in the line run by Really Skinny Boy, who lives up to his name like you wouldn't believe. Anyways, he's very cute and has this really sweet face, and as I was in line he asked, "So, did you go to the 5.5 Weeks Tour?" I said I had, but in Philadelphia, and he asked if I had seen her this last tour at The Backyard. I told him how I nearly passed out when she touched me, and he said, "Man, I would have done the same thing."

Is he interested in guys? I don't know. If so, was he interested in me? Still don't know. But now he knows me as a fellow Toriphile, amd if I ever decide I need to have a conversation with him, I know exactly how I can start one off.

Of course, this isn't just about flirting. I've made a lot of friends with my T-shirts. People see my Death T-shirt and begin talking to me about the Sandman comics. Waiters notice the Dar Williams lyrics on another T-shirt and ask where they're from. Fellow nerds everywhere flip when they see my Neon Genesis Evangelion tee, with my hero from that show, Asuka, prominently displayed (for those of you who don't now, Evangelion is like a sci-fi, anime Twin Peaks). I used to have a T-shirt that said "Reporter: 'Mr Gandhi, what do you think of Western Civilization?' Gandhi: 'I think it would be a good idea.'" Everyone got a laugh out of that shirt, and when you've got a laugh you're on the road to getting a friend.

Of course, T-shirts must be used with discretion. When you're at a truck stop in the middle of East Texas at night, it's a good idea to pull a sweater over your gay pride or anti-war T-shirts. Also, you wind up meeting people you might not wish you had. Another Whole Foods employee noticed a T-shirt from the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and now he asks me about opera every time I see him. I don't have the heart to tell him that I'm just a dilletante.

Despite this, T-shirts remain the best advertising money can buy. The Ani T-shirt is very cool, and I know that Teach will love hers. And God willing, she'll be wearing it when she meets the liberal Christian, education activist, Colin Farrel look-a-like of her dreams when they both reach for a copy of The Female Eunuch. I, in the meantime, need to get back to work and earn some money. There's this T-shirt online with the line "Ask Me About Your Mother" on it available at, and I need to be able to afford it.

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The End - 2005-02-11
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