The official acquisition of the shirts, plus, “It’s alive! It’s alive!”

March 17, 2011 § 2 Comments

The big news this week is… drumroll, please… I bought the shirts!  Dan rented us a generic midsized sedan and drove us down to Philadelphia.  I spent approximately 6 hours on Sunday digging through 5 giant bins of western shirts in order to choose 200 of the best.  Here were my criteria in descending order of preference:

  • Anything extra-large or larger (I had to adjust this criteria because there were just too many extra-larges.  So I narrowed it down to XXL and larger, and even then I had to leave some behind.  There was a huge selection of white XXL’s, but I was trying to avoid light colors, so I had to make some tough choices)
  • Anything small or smaller (these were much more difficult to come by)
  • Anything embroidered or two-toned (once I started digging, I adjusted this criteria to include single-toned, but with piping)
  • Any prints
  • Dark colors
  • Gingham or checked
  • All of the above with no rips or stains (My original plan was to inspect each shirt to thoroughly to weed these out, but in actuality there was no time to inspect each shirt carefully.  It was: reach into the bin, pull out a shirt, look at the label, look at the yoke, keep or discard.  Repeat.)

The best laid plans, of course, sometimes get thrown out the window.  Imagine a freezing cold, very dusty warehouse with narrow aisles, boxes everywhere and bin after bin of clothing.  They had “cracked open a bale” in anticipation of my private appointment.  Not sure what that means exactly – I had hoped to actually see the “bale” because I’m curious what it looks like.  Is it square?  I pictured it like what happens to a car when it gets smashed up into a little tiny metal box at the car wreckers lot.  But alas the shirts were already dispersed into bins: longsleeve (2 bins), shortsleeves, winter, and denim.  I dug to the bottom of every bin but the shortsleeve.  There were so incredibly many of the shortsleeves that I just picked a few dark ones off the top, and left the rest.  I hadn’t planned on buying any shortsleeves anyhow, but I thought I’d get a few at least as an experiment.  I hadn’t planned on buying any denims either, but as I started to dig I saw a couple unique ones.  But the payoff was fairly low – two or three unique denims in a box filled to capacity with the exact same Wrangler denim shirt over and over.  Guess that was a popular one.  It was this one.  I see the same shirt on Ebay that sold for $17.  Maybe I should have picked up a couple.  Next time, I guess.  I figured if there were so many of them, how rare could they be?  But I guess it would be a good idea to have the same one of something in a bunch of different sizes.  Maybe next time.  I also bypassed most of the winter westerns.  I was tempted to get a couple just to send to my dad because I know he likes those quilted warm shirts he can wear out in the barn, but most of them looked to be just 80’s and 90’s flannel, nothing really interesting.  There were some tough-looking jacket type shirts I was tempted by.  Maybe next time!

So after my first pass through all the bins, I came up with 268 shirts.  I’d only brought enough money with me for 200 (Dan keeps telling me: “stick with the plan.”  I agree, winging it makes me uncomfortable!)  So I painstakingly whittled the collection down.  I didn’t put back any embroidered or two-toned.  But I did 86 numerous light-colored XL’s.  And I put back anything that was modern, even if it fit the “dark-colored” or print criteria.  And it was getting on to be 3:00 in the afternoon and there I was still sorting and counting, weeding out a shirt here, and a shirt there.  Choosing the last six or seven was almost physically painful for me, I couldn’t bear to leave even one of these beauties behind!  But the clock was ticking, so I eventually made the hard choices and got it down to 200.  Here’s what I ended up with:

  • 35 embroidered or two-toned
  • 23 print and gigham
  • 27 smalls or smaller
  • 44 XXL’s or larger
  • 8 short-sleeved
  • the rest just because I liked them

Some of the more memorable ones I had to weed out included one with eagles and flags printed on it (it was joyously hideous!) and a bright yellow one made out of some sort of nylon mesh.  I eventually handed over my money, and we bagged up 7 garbage bags of shirts.  Dan stuffed them all in the trunk, and we drove back to NYC.

I ceremoniously presented them all to Mrs. West Side Laundry, who proceeded to negotiated hard on what I thought were previously-agreed-upon prices.  Jack Donneghy would have nothing on Mrs. West Side Laundry.  The shirts will sojourn there at least a week for some thorough rehab while I gather up the ransom money.  Can’t wait to see you again, Shirts!  I miss them.  I’ve been dreaming about them.  As I bid them farewell at the laundry, I happened to notice one of the shirts had red, white and blue snaps on the cuffs.  I especially can’t wait to see that guy.

While in Philadelphia we also stopped by Avalon’s show, which was coincidentally enough held at a vintage clothing store called Sweet Jane Vintage.

In addition to Avalon’s artwork, which got a nice write-up in a Philly blog, they sell an odd selection of 80’s clothing, such as LL Bean member’s only-style windbreakers and fake satin camisoles.  The store was chock full of young hipsters.  Does this mean hipsters consider 80’s clothing vintage?  Makes sense, the 80’s are now officially more than 20 years old.  But it freaks me out to think that what I wore in high school is now vintage.

We were moved to buy one of Avalon’s illustrations:

Congratulations, Avalon, on a successful opening.

In other news…

Welcome to the newest member of the Von Behren family!

Shall I name him Frank?  (Short for ‘enstein?)  Well, as those of you who correctly guessed the answer to the “What’s in the ONLYMANNEQUINS.COM box” already know, the mannequin  arrived!  Disappointingly, Lebowski wasn’t nearly as interested in him as I thought he would be.

But he dutifully sniffed him, retired to the safety of Dan’s chair to observe him at a distance, then ignored him entirely.

Mr. Frank E. Mannequin wasn’t too hard to assemble – his arms hang off of these metal hook-thingies, and his hands screw on, although somewhat precariously.  I hope one doesn’t go flying.  Dan helped me wield the accompanying allen wrench to screw the pole into the base, then there’s a little wing-nut thingy that attaches the pole, um, in his abdomen.  I guess right where his stomach would be if he were a real man.  (I am becoming strangely obsessed with his anatomy, or lack thereof!)  And on that note, those are pecs, Paul, not breasts!  He works out a lot, you see.  At the gym.  With all the other ripped mannequins.

Anyhoo, I think he’s perfect and he’s like a new plastic headless eerily pale friend just hanging out in our apartment.  He’s part of the family now!

Seeing as he was so scantily clad, I tested out one of the sample shirts on him.

I think he’s going to work out great!  Then it was up on the shelf with Frank.  It’s weird, from my vantage point here at the desk in the Vintrowear Operations Center, I can see right up his, you know, abdomen.

Too bright!  Too bright!

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