DIARY OF AN URBAN BOGMAN. Day 10. The Shirt Off My Back

I’m starting to lose my sense of self. At times, this puts me in rather awkward situations; not sure if I should assert some pre–conceived idea of an “identity” or adapt to the situation and see where it leads. Like what happened today, for example…

There was a guy walking in front of me in the busy shopping district, and he was wearing the exact same shirt that I had on. The EXACT same! I nearly fainted…

What if he saw me? Or what if someone else saw us? They might have thought we were in a gang of some sort? Or even worse—a boy band!

All flustered and upset, I first crossed the road, and then ducked into the nearest clothes shop I could find. Stacks and racks of colours nearly gave me vertigo, but I managed to hold it together. How anyone finds what they want in these environments is beyond baffling. I must have looked as confused as I felt, because a friendly sales assistant came to my aid quite promptly. “Can I help you with something?”

Yeah eh… I’d like a new shirt… This one just isn’t doing it for me anymore. Can I swap it for something else?” I stretched out the front of my shirt towards her, as if to display it better.

She looked at me, bewildered. “Eh, we can’t really swap any of our stock for eh… outside items. Still, we have some lovely shirts over here…” She trailed off towards a rack on the opposite wall, all decorated with items looking like they’d be worn by the cast of “Saved by the Bell”, complete with surfer–style patterns.

Do you have something a bit more… Plain? You know, no patterns, I’m not that into the whole palm tree idea.”

She smiled, patiently. “We have some of these bright orange and baby–blue polo shirts if you’d prefer something a bit less…”

Too bright” I interrupted. “Do you have anything like that in maybe a dark blue or grey? I don’t like to stand out too much, you know…”

Her patience seemed to be deteriorating at a steady pace. “Eh hmmm… Well see, this is our Summer collection, it being July we sort of gear it towards that beach look.” As she said this, I looked around, noticing that really it was all summer clothes. No long-sleeve tops or anything, not even a pair of full–length trousers in the place, just shorts and tees. There was even a prominent rack of sunglasses occupying the middle of the floor.

Outside, of course, the weather was absolutely terrible; a light drizzly rain hanging in the air, seemingly without falling, but making sure everything was sufficiently wet regardless. Can’t have been more that eleven degrees celsius, and grey, so very grey. A typical mild Dublin afternoon, really. Definitely nobody in need of a pair of shorts or sunglasses. “It sure doesn’t feel like Summer,” I mumbled, more to myself, though she obviously heard me.

You might want to come back in September when our Autumn collection hits the shelves, might be a bit more your… thing.” She was looking at me with complete disdain now; even though she was still smiling broadly, I could see through her eyes that her soul was screaming at me to leave the store. 

“I’ll just eh… come back… another time… eh… thanks!” I attempted to calmly leave, without showing the overwhelming sense of failure and rejection that I felt at that moment. As I swung the exit door open, glancing back I noticed the girl was now talking to another female staff member, pointing towards me, both of them looking quite amused.