T-Shirt of the Week: WEEK 26

tsotw-button-3b.jpgSome people believe you can tell a lot about a person by the shoes they wear. I believe you can tell more about a person by the t-shirts they have worn. This is the story of my life, as told by the t-shirts I have worn.

WEEK 26: Back in the late 1980s I was going to college at School of Visual Arts in New York City. I had transferred in during the middle of the year, which for reasons I won’t get into was a really bad idea. I lived in this disgusting building on West 34th Street and 9th Avenue, not too far from Penn Station. The place was called Sloane House, and it was a combination youth hostel, student housing and psychiatric outpatient residence. Everyone who lived on the eighth, ninth and tenth floor of this building all went to SVA—except for Hippie Bob, who was staying with his girlfriend Hippie Amy, even though he wasn’t supposed to be—and by the time I moved in, everyone pretty much knew everyone else.

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I was a commercial art major at SVA, but for some reason everyone thought I was in the film program. Maybe it was because there were a lot of guys from the film program living in my corner of the building, or maybe it was because I talked about movies a lot. Honestly, I don’t know. There was one film student in particular, who lived down the hall that I got to know pretty well. His name was Carlo, and he was from Patterson, New Jersey. He would frequently say, “You don’t fuck with Patterson.” To which I would respond, “I have no intention of fucking with Patterson.”

I made some good friends while I was at SVA, but Carlo was the coolest. He was a little older than me, and at some point he gave me his expired drivers license to use as fake I.D., which seemed totally pointless, because we look nothing alike. But I actually used his license at a bar one time, and was served because according to the waiter, I “had the balls to use an I.D. that was so obviously fake.”

Carlo and I had a lot in common as far as our tastes in film went, and he was one of the people that thought I was in the film program. At that point in my life, I never really thought about trying to make movies for a living. I had always wanted to be a comic book artist and writer, but it was while attending SVA that I realized I lacked the talent or the discipline to be a comic book artist. This was when I really began to focus on my writing. And thanks to Carlo, the notion that I could someday make movies was planted in my brain.

Carlo’s family owned a pizza place in New Jersey called Bachagaloop’s, even though their last name was not Bachagaloop. In fact, I think they got the name from Joe Kirk’s character Mr. Bacciagalupe on The Abbott and Costello Show. Anyway, this shirt was a present from Carlo. Don’t ask me why I kept it all these years, because as everyone knows, I just hold on to my t-shirts.

After leaving SVA and moving back to Portland, I kept in touch with several friends from school, but over the years we all sort of lost touch with each other. I had managed to keep in contact with Carlo more than anyone else, but even that didn’t last. What is sad is the fact that twenty years after the fact, I don’t know what’s going on with any of the people I knew from college or my life in New York City—except for Carlo.

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Last year, after about eleven or twelve years of no contact, Carlo and I managed to reconnect. He and Carmella, who was his finance at the time but is now his wife, were coming out to visit an old friend, and he managed to track me down. It was great seeing him and meeting her, and in a way it was like we hadn’t really lost any time. Since they were out here last year, Carlo and Carmella have come back to Portland (as they plan on moving out here), and this badass WWE shirt was a present from them. The back of the shirt says, “Don’t be afraid. Be terrified.”

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People come and go in our lives all the time, and every now and then we get that sense of nostalgia when we start thinking about the friends who we’ve lost contact with. Some times we manage to get in touch with those friends, and discover that the nostalgia was better than reality. But that’s not the case with Carlo or Carmella who are truly great people. And I’m not just saying that because they gave me shirts.

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