Out, damned spot! Out, I say!
Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare's Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 1
A few years ago I began suspecting that wearing prints might be a good strategy for me. My fairly ample bosom is a magnet for all types of consumables. If I drink any beverage in a moving vehicle, some of it is sure to splash on my chest. Ice cream? Splat. Anything with tomatoes? Splatter. Chocolate? Smudge. Frankly, my wardrobe could double as a food journal.
The problem is I'm not really fond of wearing prints. Prints make their own statement. On me, the statement is "I am middle-aged and need to lose a few pounds." I prefer solid colors. And I really like white - long-sleeved Ts in the winter, tanks in the summer - because white feels fresh and works with everything. It also makes a fabulous backdrop for all manner of stains.
My talent for turning meals and snacks into wearable art has become an on-going joke between G and me. For a recent road trip, I packed 6 white t-shirts and a few pairs of jeans. I figured the travel uniform would help simplify things since I wouldn't have to decide what to wear each day. It truly was a good plan -- until a few hours into the first day's ride. That's when some coffee bypassed my lips and plopped warmly onto my chest, creating a pattern reminiscent of mud-splatter on snow. G, who was driving, made some kind of snorting sound, but kept his eyes focused on the road.
That was the start. Each clean shirt donned was a canvas waiting for its stain-of-the-day. At the end of one particularly tiring day, we decided to share a hot fudge sundae. Our spoons were clinking the bottom of the dish when G started to comment on the fact my shirt was still pristine. Before his observation could be fully verbalized, a blob of dark fudge propelled itself like a parachutist from the spoon to my shirt, leaving a chocolaty trail several inches long. G's face and body silently segued into laugh-mode while my emotions battled between being totally ticked off or acknowledging the humor in such obvious irony. I chose to laugh. By the time we got home from our journey, four of the shirts sported souvenirs from dining misadventures.
Last week I reached into the closet and grabbed a green linen shirt I'd worn for a few hours the night before. After brushing my teeth, I noticed what appeared to be a water spot. I made it bigger by rubbing it with a wet cloth (just in case there was toothpaste mixed with the water.) Fifteen minutes later, it was clear the original spot was not water. Sugar. I was running late, so I pulled on a print tunic that is comfortable but not particularly flattering. While waiting at a stop light, I glanced down at my shirt. Smack in the middle of my chest was an area the size of a quarter where the complex black/silver/gray pattern sat on a background of tan instead of white. How could I have missed it when I looked in the mirror??
And that is really the point. With print, I did miss the stain. I like to think the people I came in face-to-face contact with that day also missed it. But I knew that spot was there, and that leaves me with a dilemma. Do I clear out the solid-colored tops and stock my closet with an assortment of prints that will daily declare, "I am middle-aged, need to lose a few pounds, but you can't see my spots?" Or, when the pre-soak and bleach stops working, do I toss the tattle-tale solids and replace them with new canvases?
Perhaps I should hang on to dependable wardrobe staples - especially fresh, go-with-everything white. Since my memory isn't quite as sharp as it used to be, at least the splats, splatters, and smudges will remind me what I ate that day.