Friday, December 31, 2010

Redscale Meltdown

On 5th Ave:

I just took the shirt out of its bag. It's now unfolded and resting on my bed. It's a big shirt, long-sleeved and very scratchy. It's nothing I'd ever want to wear, but it isn't my shirt. It never was. It just lives here. It's just been left here, a souvenir from a night 18 years in the past.

It's not clean. The once-white shirt is covered in the dirt and sopped stains of that night. There's blood on the shirt too, in a curious half-moon shape that corresponds with the upper jaw of another human being, a total stranger who was in the wrong place at the right time.

It's a shirt that threw bottles on Houston, spit on people's backs on the Bowery, and passed out cold on the floor of CBGBs. It came back to my place, drank beers, smoked Camels, and ordered in pizzaburgers at 3am, watching the Cartoon Network until it fell asleep.

It's an artifact I venerated the very next day, it being a record of the previous evening. I don't remember why it stayed with me and didn't return home with its owner, but I knew I would never wash it. I thought it was pure art, as I thought the wearer to be a pure artist.

For a while I even had it mounted on my apartment wall, I thought it was so striking a statement. I don't remember if I hung it up before or after its owner passed away. I don't remember if he ever saw his shirt on my wall, having become my personal Shroud of Turin. Or maybe it was an indirect way of me saying how much I loved him, something I never said in life, since you don't think like that when you're younger. Everyone lives forever when you're young.

So this New Year's Eve, I recall that New Year's Eve of the past, only revealing the tiniest of snippets of that night for your consumption.

The shirt is away now, folded and back in its bag. Will I look at it before next New Year's Eve? Probably. Do I really need an old dirty shirt to remember a night that was so special for three close friends?

Do I even have to answer that?

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