Tuesday, July 21, 2009

COLUMN: Shirt Wars, The Sequel

Ahh... there's nothing like waking up after voting day, is there? The birds in the sky chirp with the satisfaction and accomplishment that comes from our free and Democratic society. Yes, a utopian world, really, where every voice has its say, every hope can be realized... and every shirt can be worn.

In case you missed last week's column, let's get you up to speed:

Your humble columnist, otherwise known as The Hero Of Our Story, dry cleaned his collection of super-sexy silk shirts for the purposes of summer wearing. This was much to the chagrin of his loving girlfriend (The Evil Villainess,) who felt that he would be much better suited in a spanky collection of argyle polo shirts. The Villainess, normally a lovely and caring princess whom Our Hero wouldn't trade for all the video games in Japan, was clearly under some kind of evil spell, as these argyle polo shirts hailed from the land of Preppy Golf Course Nightmares.

Thus began the epic battle of Shirt Wars - Episode One: The Argyle Menace. Since the Villainess was immune to all of the reasoning and logic that our couch-dwelling Hero could provide, he instead decided to take the battle to the people, in the form of last week's column. Facts were laid out, opinions stated, and photographic evidence of both the pleasing button-down silk ensemble (yay!) AND the argyle atrocity (boo! hiss!) were presented to you, the general public, for your careful consideration and feedback.

After last week's column was turned in, we both promptly laughed about it and left the Quad Cities for a romantic daytrip to Wisconsin, where my choice of shirts was the last thing on our minds. In other words, it was kind of a joke column, folks. Little did I know that, while we were cruising the waters of Lake Geneva with champagne wishes and caviar dreams, the Shirt War was raging on amongst a goodly percentage of our readership.

What neither of us knew was that the column had made its way to the main page of QCOnline.com, drawing many an eye. By the time we got back in town, I had an inbox bulging with e-mails from readers. Online comments were piling up on our website. Even our respective Facebook pages were teeming with mutual friends up in arms... all about my clothing. I will never look a gift shirt in the mouth again.

Through all of the comments, I learned important things. For example, here's what one reader had to say:

"Your silk man-blouse is UGLY! Your girlfriend has the right idea. In the argyle, you look 20 pounds lighter and your hair and eyes look so much cooler."

Here's what another says:

"I hate the argyle polo shirt. It makes you look fat and look like a dork. The silk look is better for you."

So, if there's one thing to be learned from this exercise, it's the satisfying knowledge that I'm clearly a lard-butt no matter WHAT I drape over myself. Personally, I simply suspect that all cameras on Earth hate me with a blinding fury. I'm just big-boned -- especially my stomach bone.

Still, I wanted an answer. I was convinced that the ghost of Chess King wouldn't have led me wrong about silk and rayon shirts all these years. I wanted to dance on the grave of my girlfriend's argyles. I wanted a definitive and exact picture of myself as seen through the eyes of strangers. This is why I just finished sitting here, meticulously counting the votes and opinions that have come in via e-mail, website, and Facebook all weekend.

Ladies and gentlemen -- the winner of Shirt Wars 2009 is...

THE SILKEN SHIRTS OF SHANE BROWN. By a margin of exactly two votes. In yer face, argyle!

I promptly contacted my girlfriend and delivered my victory speech, the text of which I'll gladly reprint here: "Ahem. Nyah Nyah Boo Boo! You suck! I rule! The end."

Needless to say, she demanded a recount.

When the votes were tallied a second time, I'm afraid to say that two entries were called into question. For instance, there was this comment, on my Facebook, from our mutual friend Sarah:

"So much argyle, so little time..."

I had assumed this was a sarcastic comment favoring MY choice of clothing. My girlfriend, however, feels that this is a clear vote for her argyle polo shirts. This was a conundrum. It's times like this when you realize that you can't trust your own predisposed opinion and must look at the situation from a purely non-partisan view. I needed to think like my elders and my civic leaders. We decided to stop, take a deep breath, and ask ourselves, "What would Rock Island Circuit Court Judge Mark VandeWiele do?"

We struggled for three days to ascertain this commenter's intent, knowing that every vote is critical in this fashion war. The length of the struggle in and of itself helped answer the question. By a preponderance of the evidence, this is a vote for ARGYLE. But Shirt War calls for a clearly ascertainable vote and this columnist and his girlfriend cannot in good faith make that finding. Since these commenter's intent is not clearly ascertainable by a totality of the circumstances as required by a good 'n' proper Shirt War, these two comments shall not be counted as a vote for either shirt.

In other words, we've come to a tie. Persuant to the by-laws of my apartment, this means The Great Shirt War of 2009 shall be decided by -- you guessed it -- drawing lots. I'm just not sure what we need to draw lots of. In grade school, I used to draw lots of rocketships, so I'm hoping that's what it'll be.

Until said time that we draw lots of rocketships, I declare myself the winner. I shall continue to wear my ugly silk shirts with pride, and I'll even concede to the occasional public outing of the thoughtfully-purchased argyle polo shirts because I love my girlfriend and maybe one day I'll love her shirts, too. And if the girlfriend has any issues with that, this humble writer reminds her that she's more than welcome to go and get her OWN newspaper column nyah nyah boo boo. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a victory party to attend -- dress code strictly enforced.

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