Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

The Tale of the Black Shirt

Here's another moment from the Midwest Ale that I just loved, for all the resonance it has. This one may well be impossible to explain, but I'll try to get it down.

On Sunday evening after dinner I was standing in the dining hall talking with Matt when Deb came up and told him with a slight hint of exasperation that Michael had forgotten his black shirt to wear for the Sword Dance team's performance at skit night later that night. "Oh," I said, "I think I have a black shirt with me." I didn't know for sure because my typed-up packing list said only "two long-sleeved cotton shirts" (in case it was cool in the evening) which meant I grabbed two shirts without really thinking much about which ones they were. I was fairly certain that I'd brought a black shirt but I had to run to my cabin and check.

What's interesting here is that the black shirt I brought is Michael's size and not really mine. Lately I buy size XL, but this one was L.

So I ran back to find Andy talking with Matt and Deb. I was waving the shirt like a flag. Andy said, "Of course! I should have thought to go to Deb first, because Deb is the problem solver." I said to Deb, "So now you're going to get credit because I have a black shirt for Michael." Andy said they were thinking of performing with just their ties but without shirts at all, so they'd all be uniform, at which point I said, "I'm taking the shirt back." But I did not.

Michael, in the meantime, was at a board meeting for the Midwest Ale association. He had started to try to find a shirt but then it was time for the meeting so there was nothing more to do just then. Deb snuck into the meeting and placed the shirt into Michael's hands and snuck out. Michael didn't even think much about it (after all, Deb is the problem solver, except for when Andy is), although he says he did vaguely notice that the shirt was folded and pressed and soft cotton with a button down collar. But it made sense to him.

When Michael arrived at the dance hall for skit night a little later, wearing the black shirt (again, the shirt that fit him better than it fits me -- by coincidence this shirt had long arms, which Michael has but I do not), I asked him if he knew where the shirt came from. He looked as if he hadn't even thought about this (as well he may not have) and then he said, "Oh! Of course! It had to have come from you."

The resonance? Well, I'm team Mom (extra hankies in my kit bag) and in some ways my role in my friendship with Michael is to do things like provide him with a black shirt in circumstances like this. I could claim that's why I brought it in the first place, but I won't. Douglas, in Douglas's role, had reminded Michael on Friday to remember his shirt, but Michael was very sick on Friday (he didn't even come out to the Ale site until Saturday morning), and Douglas said that if he'd realized the state Michael was in he himself would have brought an extra shirt. Between Andy and Deb things will usually get taken care of. There was no moment of actual crisis, except among the few people working on the shirt issue, and everything fell into place. We all were exactly who we are.

I was actually giggling with the absurdity of it all.

Not much of a story, you say? Ah, but there's the mythologizing that underlies it all.
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