A few weeks ago, I received my official invitation to Coolsburg. I was immediately banned for life for referring to it as “Coolsburg,” but I’ll cherish the moment forever.
In an increasingly sardonic circumstance – where it seems like the only way to like something is in a twisted, ironic way – I got caught actually enjoying something. Instead of choosing to adorn my garments with gaudy, over-the-top, outdated references so people would think I’m clever, I instead wore a genuine item of love. My punishment was a broken heart.
Imagine my giddiness as I returned home from a long day to realize that the UPS man had visited while I was away. I tore into the glorious brown package with a knowing zeal like Ralphie Parker opening what would be the greatest Christmas present a kid could ever receive.
What was waiting for me on the inside of the package wasn’t an official Red Ryder, carbine-action, 200-shot range model air rifle. Oh no, it was much better. The inside of the package glowed like the unknown contents of Marcellus Wallace’s briefcase. I’m not big on MacGuffins, however, so I will share with you the object of my adoration.
Once I removed the extraneous packaging, looking up at me from a cotton-blend, canary yellow T-shirt was the beautiful face of Michael J. Fox, circa 1985, in full character. I’m not talking about Alex P. Keaton, or even Marty McFly. There in his red-eyed pre-transformation glory – demanding to be sold a keg of beer – was the incomparable Scott Howard. The Teen Wolf himself was living on my T-shirt.
The only question was when the optimal time would be for me to unfurl this masterpiece. A shirt of this magnitude cannot simply be worn on a Wednesday, for that would squander its potential. I would have to wait until Saturday night.
When the weekend came, I was ready to fulfill my destiny as the life of the party. I waited until the last possible minute to put the shirt on. I couldn’t wear it during the day and risk a possible life-ruining dirt smudge or ketchup smear. I was on top of my game.
I walked into my friend’s party fashionably late, with a quiet swagger that can only come from the confidence of knowing everyone was going to love my shirt, and in turn, love me, too.
Immediately the shirt went to work, as an obviously impressed acquaintance strolled up to me, eyes fixed at the wondrous image emblazoned on my chest.
“Great shirt, man,” he told me. “Teen Wolf. . .that movie is so bad.”
I stood there like a slug. It was my only defense.
I felt like I had been punched in the gut. How could he love the shirt, but not love all that the shirt stood for? I ran to the bathroom and splashed water on my face. I tried to remain calm but nothing could stop the panic from rushing over me.
“Hey, Aaron” he called. “Is that you in there? Open up, I gotta show you something.”
“Ahh, no, man, no.” I was too embarrassed.
A few minutes passed, and he went to get my friend, the owner of the house.
“Aaron, open up the door, come out, he just wants to show you something,” my friend said.
I opened the door to see my friend standing with his arm around the guy who started this mess, wearing a Teen Wolf Too shirt.
Maybe my friend thought we would be kindred spirits, but I couldn’t look him in the face. My shirt was worn with genuine love for a classic piece of American cinema, while his was worn with a searing ironic bite.
Perhaps the fact that I bought a shirt that was meant to be ironic, but wore it with sincerity, brings the whole situation full circle back to irony. Whatever it means, I’m not going to let this chump beat me in a T-shirt war.
My Teen Witch shirt should be arriving any day now. Top that.
Aaron Hertzog can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.