Someone I know once said of her annoyance over people who wear Che Guevara shirts without knowing who the man was. Upon reading her statement, I asked myself whether -I- really knew who Che Guevara was (despite the fact that I don’t own a shirt with a print of his face on it) and realising that I didn’t, hopped over to Wikipedia quick smart.
It seems that there are lots of people out there who wear things that they don’t know the meaning of or what they represent. Tattoos are a common one. I asked one customer what their tattoo symbolised – they had a chinese character inked on their bicep. They shrugged in response and said they didn’t know, which made me think of that joke about a man getting a tattoo which meant “I f–ked my mother” in some other language.
The Che Guevara remark came to mind last week when I served someone who could have easily been mistaken for a member of the West Coast Eagles (plus or minus the drugs). He was about six foot, well-built, and had one of those faces the average male would give an eye tooth for – or want to put a dent in. Given all this, I paid him little heed. And I’m not just saying this for Boyfriend’s benefit. Bronzed football-types just don’t do it for me.
Aside from the initial greeting, I didn’t say a word to Mr. Alpha Male. The supermarket is usually full of noise, the sound of other checkout scanners beeping, people walking, other movement and rustling, banging. In spite of all this, the immediate space around me somehow feels deathly quiet when I’m not talking to anyone.
While I waited for the credit slip to print out, I glanced at Alpha Male and my gaze came level with the writing on his shirt. On his shirt was one of those generic designs like that on a basketball or football jersey: a double-digit number (It’s never just an “8”, it’s always “08”) with a word of some sort above it. Alpha Male’s shirt read “Osaka”.
When Alpha Male had finished scrawling his signature on the slip and I went through the motions of checking the signature and printing out the receipt, I couldn’t resist testing whether “Osaka” meant anything to Alpha Male. So I asked him about it.
A shrug and a crooked grin. ‘I’m not sure what it means.’
‘I think it’s a city in Japan,’ I replied carefully. I suppressed the urge to make a comment about people who wear shirts bearing words and images they know nothing about.
Another easy grin. ‘Oh, okay.’
You’ll never catch me wearing a top or other item of clothing emblazoned with a word that I don’t know the meaning or significance of, no siree.
But that may have something to do with how I don’t wear clothes with words on them.