The S and Circle

I have a lot of t-shirts but I wear some more than others because they are marked as my favorite t-shirts.  Current number one is probably my neon green “I am a Moon Monster” t-shirt from explodingdog.com, though I also really like my Murder By Death shirt and my Grace Potter & The Nocturnals shirt.  I used to have a t-shirt that I liked more than any other t-shirt I’ve ever owned though.  More than my “Where the Wild Things Are” shirt or the awesome Sherwin-Williams paint t-shirt.  My favorite t-shirt of all time was just a simple red shirt with a white S surrounded by a white circle on the right breast.  Now in simple description there isn’t really anything all that special about the shirt but it had family value to me and I used to wear it all the time.

My grandfather is named Benedict Sloboda and he lives in Hyde Park Vermont on sixty something acres of property on which he used to raise beef cattle.  My grandfather is pretty old now, nearing 89, and hasn’t had any cows for more than twenty years but he still lives out there all alone on the farm.  The Farm (and that is always what my family and I call it) is one of my favorite places in the world.  I know I’ve written about it several times so I won’t go into all the reasons why I like it so much right now.  Being as it used to be a working farm (actually it was this long before my Grandfather bought the place) there is a big red barn right next to the house.  When I was little I always regarded the barn with a mix of fascination and fear.  It is a huge structure, with a dampish dusty dark interior cluttered with the remains of many years past.  If one is standing outside the barn, by the side of my grandfather’s house, and looks up above the main entrance they will see the same S and circle that appeared on my favorite t-shirt.

The S stands for Sloboda, which is a Czechoslovakian name that means “Liberty” (at least that is what I’ve always been told.  I have no reason to really doubt it so I don’t).  Some time in the early eighties before I was born my mom and her sister and brothers had a bunch of t-shirts made up for friends and family with the S and circle on them.  Somehow one of these t-shirts survived until I was in high school and found it.  When I did find it the shirt was already on the path of disintegration but I didn’t care.  It fit perfect, it was made of awesome soft cotton, and it looked really cool.  Throughout much of high school I was seen wearing the shirt around.  I am sure there are lots of pictures of me with it on.  My mom thought it was the rattiest looking thing in the world (which it kind of was) and wanted nothing more than for me to get rid of it.  I would do no such thing.  Then I made a foolish mistake.  When I was packing to go to college for freshman year I had forgotten that the S and circle t-shirt was in the laundry.  I went to school without it which I realized within only a day or two after being at Plymouth.  I think I called home and asked my parents to send it to me but they never did.  When I went home for the first time freshman year (Thanksgiving) I was determined to get my favorite t-shirt but I couldn’t find it anywhere.  I kept looking growing more and more frantic not wanting to ask where it was for fear of what I’d be told.  I couldn’t take it though and so I asked my mom and she calmly replied, “Oh that old thing Nathaniel, I threw it away.  It was pretty much falling apart in my hands.”  Oh the nerve!  It has been over four years since this happened and I am still hard pressed to forgive her for it.  Yes the shirt was falling apart, and it was old, and probably wouldn’t even fit me anymore but that isn’t the point.  The point is that it was my favorite god damn t-shirt!  I get worked up just thinking about it.  I think of it as similar to when the mother in A Christmas Story “accidentally” broke the leg lamp.  My mom hated that shirt, she had it out for the shirt, and so when it was without my protection she did away with it.  Gggrrrrrr!

Alas there is not much I can do to get that shirt back but now using Zazzle I can make a kind of clone t-shirt (though the fabric and aging will be off and it will lack that great vintage background).  I actually told my parents that for fun the family should all get some of these clone shirts in reference to the good old days (I almost said, “because you killed my shirt mom” but thought better of it).  If I can save some cash I’ll probably be purchasing one sometime soon.

The Sloboda Seal

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~ by Nathaniel on February 7, 2008.

3 Responses to “The S and Circle”

  1. I always assumed that girls liked clothes more than guys. Once my roommate (a male) thought he was being very nice by taking my clothes out of the washer and putting them in the dryer. The nerve. Wrong setting, first off. But more importantly, I air dry all nice fabrics, and he ruined a silk shirt. Anyway, I found out I was wrong about this. Guys care much, much more. As evidenced by the time I washed my boyfriends hat because it smelled. And let me tell you, he must really love me, cuz I could tell from the look of intense pain and subtle rage in his expression that this was NOT an acceptable thing to do. He didn’t break up with me, but I’m pretty sure he thought about it. And then I proposed culling out some of the older shirts from his wardrobe. Well, that went over about as well as keying his car. Anyway, I’ve come to the conclusion that guys have relationships with certain articles of clothing that shouldn’t be messed with. If I ever have a son, I promise you, I will remember this lesson and not throw out the ratty old tee. As long as he doesn’t dry my silk shirt.

  2. My wife isn’t allowed to wash or dry or fold any of my clothes anymore. Not since she washed, dried and shrank my EOR92 rugby shirt. This shirt was one of 44 printed for the graduating class of the 1992 French Navy Special Warfare School’s Officer Training Course. One of 44. This isn’t even something I can duplicate on Zazzle. I can still wear it, but only if I shrug my shoulders all the way up to my ears to make them a good ten inches shorter.

    If I buy an article of clothing, it’s because I want to wear it. If it shrinks, gets bleached, turns pink or ends up with a burn mark from an iron across the chest, I can’t wear it anymore, which defeats the purpose.

    I can’t even seem to find a dry cleaner’s that can press my dress shirts properly in Greenville. WTF?!

    Clothz eez serioos biznesz.

  3. So are shoes. I had this pair of hybrid hiking boots/sneakers that I wore from senior year of High school up until the end of college when they finally fell apart. they were really nasty looking things by the end but they had been broken in so much that they were probably the most comfortable footwear I’ve ever owned. I also have a bad ass pair of steel toe work boots that I haven’t been able to replace, partially because of their comfort but also because they have saved my toes on a number of occasions (which makes one develop a fondness and sense of indebtedness to the boots).

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