A friend of mine said I shouldn’t be doing laundry on Thanksgiving, but he didn’t see the pile of clothes in my garage.
I should have listened.
I groggily pulled countless pairs of black slacks and T-shirts from the dryer to make room for a not-so-fresh mound to be washed when I noticed something that didn’t belong.
There was a T-shirt with an American Apparel tag, indicating it was likely some sort of hipster, cool shirt, but it was too big for me. I thought maybe my mom had been shopping a bought something new, which made me more eager to find out what it was.
When I unfurled the shirt, I found myself face-to-face with Bill Murray. I gasped. That’s not hyperbole. I literally gasped. Kinda loudly, actually.
I realized it had been far too long since I’d done any laundry.
Yes, on the shirt Bill’s face is somewhat ghostly. It’s a white, shadow outline of Murray wearing a collared shirt on a black background. He stares pensively into the souls of those who gaze upon it, like a G.
Bill Murray isn’t scary, right?
Right. Even as a zombie.
But this was Chris’ prized, limited edition print, Bill fucking Murray T-shirt. He wore this shirt everyday during his pre-mobilization training in Oklahoma, as I could see from the morning picture I received daily. He posted on Facebook the day it came in the mail that it was the happiest day of his life since the birth of his daughter.
Back when we were happy, I joked with him that if he died I would at least be happy to finally have a limited-edition Bill Murray shirt, to which he replied “Actually, I’m going to be buried in that shirt. You can have my old chucks.”
You get the idea. He was really crazy about Bill Murray, and the shirt.
Chris had mentioned that while he was away in Afghanistan, I could take his precious shirt and wear it at night to think of him. He might have left it on purpose, but I didn’t even know I had it.
He would likely want this back.
So, how to approach the ex? But not just any ex. The ex you loved so perfectly, unconditionally. The ex that crushed you. Contorted your insides to an angry mess. The one who wants to never see you again. The one you’ve written about for the whole world to see on the Internetz.
If Chris was already gone, I might not have even told him I had it. But he has one more weekend of leave before his actual deployment. He might want to bestow the burial shroud to another, even though we both know that nobody else will fully understand the meaning of this piece of cloth.
I sent a photo with the message, “I just pulled this from the dryer. Do you want me to leave it at your sister’s for ya?”
“Sure. If ya want. Happy turkey day.”
I paused, asking myself if a joke would be received well. Oh what the heck; The thing we always shared more than anything was good jokes.
“Naw, I think I’ll keep it, but I’ll be really thankful for it. Have a good one.”
It’s cool? (See above commentary)
“No. I wouldn’t do that. I just didn’t know if you wanted me to send it somewhere or leave it at your sister’s. I’ll just mail it to you at her house.”
Even the jokes are dead.
So the question, “What do I do with this shirt?” still needs to be answered.
Another friend of mine told me “fuck a T-shirt,” and proceeded to explain how I could re-create a scene from the movie where a woman cleans her toilet with the ex’s favorite shirt. He doesn’t deserve to have it back, was the general mentality I encountered.
Dudes across the globe would likely peg the effort to return the shirt as some desperate last-ditch effort to see the ex, but I don’t think I could look him in the face again.
Was I being too nice, even considering giving it back?
Like our founding fathers, in ‘Merica, we value our property. Much of our early criminal code was created with the idea of protecting property. Too bad some of those laws also protected the rights to own people, or 3/5 of a person. But essentially, people will tolerate a lot of transgressions, but when you mess with their stuff or their children, eyebrows quickly furrow.
I’ve never believed that any woman (or man) has the right to keep an ex’s property without consent. You broke up (sad face), but neither party should also lose everything (sadder face). Not saying a Bill Murray T-shirt is Chris’ everything… but (see above commentary).
When I got divorced, I actually faced a completely opposite problem than most other women. I was left with everything. Literally. All the ex-husband took was a grandfather clock bestowed upon him by his parents, his clothes, an XBox, one of multiple cats (yeah, relocating animals is probably harder than working out child custody) and the entire collection of Predator DVDs. I was actually kindof pissed he took the DVDs.
But we had a two-bedroom apartment, fully furnished. And we were in the process of being evicted when he ran off. I had less than six days to get out of Dodge and nowhere to take all this stuff.
My parents and a good friend helped me pack it all up and condense it down to a cube of random boxes and end tables in mom and dad’s garage. Our divorce decree stated both parties inherited all the property he or she had in their possession at the time. I didn’t take it all in the cover of darkness; I wound up with it all as a hassle.
As the months went by, the ex-husband came to his senses (actually he was asking to come back after 10 days). He asked if I would return his grandmother’s keepsakes and some of her furniture, so I did. Some of the items we both wanted, we divided civilly. My father helped me return two trailer loads of furniture, which he now has at his new house.
Not all ex-wives or ex-girlfriends want to stick it to you by taking your tools, games or cars. The really bad ones just write about you on their blog.
The shirt is still hanging in my garage, as of this morning, but I’m planning to drop it off on this sister’s porch today or tomorrow. Instead of taking everything under cover of darkness, I suppose I’ll drop it off under cover of darkness.
Maybe I am too nice. But I like to think of it as invoking the Golden Rule; I know I would appreciate someone recognizing an object’s importance and returning it to me, no matter how much I maybe didn’t deserve it.
Plus I already said it wasn’t my size.
It was just a strange discovery that brought some strange questions to my mind. I realized things with Chris and I will never be what they were. Ever. No more jokes. No more “Happy Thanksgivings.” No more anything. Just ghosts of a past life that becomes more and more distorted the longer I look at it.
What really, really sucks is that I can never look at Bill Murray again without thinking of Chris. I just watched The Darjeeling Limited last night, and my theory was confirmed. Thanks Wes Anderson for making fantastic movies that will forever haunt me, considering the fact Bill fucking Murray’s face is in them all…staring back into the souls of viewers like a G.