Monday, October 24, 2016

My Annual Search for a Really Ugly Shirt

I admit it…I’m a cheapskate. I remember sitting in an economics class where the professor said that children of parents who came of age during the Great Depression tended to be frugal. I think there’s some truth to that. When we go to the United States Maribel is the shopper, though she too is a penny pincher. I limit my buying to mundane things like coffee filters and light machine oil (difficult to find in Chiclayo). The only firm shopping goal I have is a quest to find a really ugly shirt.

My search criteria are simple. First, the price must be under $10. Secondly, the material should be rayon. It gets really hot in Chiclayo and rayon is both cool and comfortable, though it comes back from the laundry looking like every airport baggage handler in the world had taken a turn at trying to destroy it. Third, the shirt must be what is known as a Hawaiian shirt. Most guys don’t wear Hawaiian shirts. Not in Miami, Naples, Clearwater Beach or here in Chiclayo. Why is that? It seems to me that anywhere there are palm trees there should be Hawaiian shirts. In the movies the only guys who wear them are goober type characters who also wear shorts, straw hats and socks with sandals. I don’t care. I like the shirts. Wearing them gives me a casual, carefree feeling.

The $10 price limit makes the search interesting. Kohl’s, JC Penny and other stores carry Hawaiian shirts in brands like Batik Bay and Island Shores but the price is usually from $25 to $40. Sometimes the shirts are on sale for about $15 but that’s still outside of my self-imposed limit. That’s what I like about the K-Marts of the world. They have those bargain racks with shirts priced as low as $2.98. When all else fails I can usually count on them.

This is last year’s winner. It came from Kohl’s and cost $7.99 on a clearance rack. It’s a Croft&Barrow made in Bangladesh. It isn’t rayon but it met the price criteria and it is ugly. In high school art class we were told to never ever combine blue with green and to this day I still cringe when I see that color combination.

This year I thought I was sunk. We’d been to Kohl’s, Pennys, Sears and many other stores including K-Mart in Miami and Naples where from a distance I thought I saw a sure winner. There were about a dozen of the same shirt in various sizes made of rayon. The print pattern was semi-Hawaiian…close enough. It had an added advantage in that if I spilled food or drinks on it no one would notice, unless the spill was red or yellow. The brand is Basic Editions, also made in Bangladesh. And as ugly as it was I was sure it would be within my price range. Imagine my disappointment when I saw the $21.99 price tag.

My last hope was K-Mart in Clearwater, and it saved the day. There it was, the very shirt I had seen in Naples for $21.99 sitting all by itself on a $3.99 clearance rack. Once again it was demonstrated to me that cheap ugly stuff can be found if you look hard enough. Now it hangs in my wardrobe, giving me a total of eight ugly Hawaiian shirts; one for each day of the week. Life is good.

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