Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mystery in S, M, L, and XL

The "news," the way I've broadly defined it for this project, represents an open window on the world of human thought, activity, and cultural conversation. Once that window closes, as it has for me, there arises a very real danger.

I could slink off into a corner and start digging through my own dirty laundry and become...a navel gazer.

Actually, that's what about to happen here. Literally. I must confess that the other day I was gazing southward and my eye fell upon something and, as is my habit, I started asking that most tiresome of questions. Why, oh, why?

But this dirty laundry/navel gazing is not about the discovery of lint.

Private Investigations

It has been said about the world of blogging that "Never have so many written so much about so little for so few." Aware that, sans news of real import, I could fall into a blogger's trap of writing about my head cold or the dog's accumulated hair on the couch (and helpful tips on how to remove it), I decided to poll some of my students to see if I should write about the following. I asked:

- Are you aware of this problem? Yes! they said.

- Has there been a YouTube treatment of this problem? No, they said.

- Has there been a TV or movie episode where characters discuss the problem? No, once more.

Well, if you google what I'm about to discuss you will find many discussion threads and blog sites that have taken up the subject. [Example 1, Example 2,] However, I trust that this material is not yet exhausted and totally cliche or else my students would have yawned before my eyes or even laughed at my late discovery. And, it is important to note, that in my investigations I have yet to find anyone who has truly solved...

The mystery of the tiny hole appearing in the T-shirt or polo.

We Have a Situation...

Even though plenty of people have already been talking about this problem, therein lies one of my points. This is actually, in terms of scope, a BIG DEAL.

If the sheer quantity of an occurrence were a criteria to make the news, then we should have heard long ago in the media about an epidemic. Or about a conspiracy. Or about the need for a massive recall of defective apparel. But the powers that be ignore what seems to be a major problem for hundreds of thousands of Americans.

I want to know why with so many people out there in cyberspace writing about, speculating about, blogging about mystery holes in their cotton shirts no one as yet has begun a Congressional investigation? Why are no lawyers lining up for a class action lawsuit? Where are the National Science Foundation grants to allow people in white lab coats to peer over microscopes at the minute mayhem? And how come poets are failing to capitalize upon the opportunity to write best-selling chapbooks about the dazzling bizareness of it?

And bizarre it is.

Hard Evidence

Mama Bear has one...
On the day I broached this topic my wife said, "You mean a hole like this?" She pulled forward the lower edge of her T-shirt. She showed me. Very tiny. But plainly visible.

Baby Bear has one...
Our son walked into the room looked down at his polo. "Hey, Dad. I've got one, too."

My own shirt was fine, so I consulted my closet. Fourth T-shirt that I inspected, bingo!
And Daddy Bear makes three!

Some Common Theories  (see Internet for the raging debate)

- Laundering does it
- Tiny bugs in the laundry hamper eat cotton
- Belt buckles poke right at that point
- Bumping one's belly against kitchen counter wears a hole
- Hitting belly at end of a dumbbell rep at the gym is responsible
- Car seat belt rubs that exact spot and creates hole

My Alternate Theory

Each of the above theories has flaws, not the least of which is why does this hole, the way many of us have received it, appear down low and centered? The seat belt or belt buckle is a nice supposition, but what about those who don't wear belts often (some women) or who don't wear their seat belts (shame, shame) , but still have holes they can point to?

And my belly in its current state (thank heavens for weight lifting even though I don't work out with dumbbells) never bumps the kitchen counter.

I would like to propose a new theory.

First there was the infinity sign: ¥ .  It is deployed as a visible symbol of how vast the universe and time are. They are, as a non-poet might say, like forever.

Today there has come to the human race the entropy sign. Yes, I think this is what each hole is. It is a visible sign/symbol, as useful as ¥ , and it's given to us gratis by a higher power to remind us of the reality of entropy.

The best definition I ever heard of entropy came from Paul Simon who said on a tune on his first solo album a long, long time ago, "Everything put together sooner or later falls apart."

Including us.

So I'd like to posit that the these holes in shirts are a necessary reminder of the nature of reality. It's not all that pleasant to think of your things, including yourself and your loved ones, "falling apart," but at least I am thankful for the subtlety of the entropy sign. Because it's so small, it's merely a gentle nudge as opposed to confronting us with a yawning,  frightening abyss. A single T-shirt hole is enough, though, to make me remember that no one can stop all sorts of "holes" from eventually appearing in his or her life. Not me, not Donald Trump. I can keep replacing shirts, but that doesn't change the rather harsh rules of this game.

Everything put together, sooner or later falls apart.

And that's the hole truth, bad pun and all. - V.W.


1 comment: