23andMe – Too Much of a Good Thing?

Actually, my 23andMe results showed less than 2% Neanderthal. FYI, this in not one of my logo t shirts.

Don’t let the “23andMe” in today’s title mislead you. Even though a card-carrying member of that organization, I’m not going to dwell on the fact that my saliva revealed 234 variants (out of 7,462) in my DNA that trace back to the Neanderthals and which, among other things, includes one variant associated with having difficulty discarding rarely-used possessions.

Too much of a good thing? Reference is to the t-shirts, not Ono our cat.

The “23 in the title refers to the number of logo t-shirts you will find in my dresser drawer, not the number of pairs of chromosomes in human DNA. So, in keeping with the theme of today’s blog, I will tackle the question of whether or not having 23 logo t-shirts is too much of a good thing or if it is just a quirky manifestation of my Neanderthal-induced difficulty in discarding rarely-used possessions.

Since my retirement, hardly a day has gone by when I haven’t worn a t-shirt. My t-shirt drawer is ground zero for my morning ritual of deciding how I will adorn myself for the day. Of course, that decision depends as much on my own frame of mind as well as how I imagine my anticipated audience may react.

My most frequently visited clothing drawer.

But more important to me than the practical side of deciding what to wear is the more nuanced emotional side of the ritual. Going through that drawer is like a daily link to some of the more enjoyable parts of my life. To put it in the terms of the tidy queen Marie Kondo, each of the t-shirts “sparks joy.”

Here are a few examples that can help you better understand my t-shirt fetish (and hence me).

I found this in a shop in Fort Collins and couldn’t pass it up. When overtaking another bike the correct protocol is to call out “on your left!” Because other cyclists usually are passing me I seldom get the opportunity to utter these words. Hence I thought it would be cool to have it printed on a t-shirt to give the impression that “on your left” is one of my patent phrases. Plus it carries a somewhat muted political message.

This very special t-shirt was a recent gift from Travis, our son. Those who have been following Andy’s Corner know that I grew up in Chino, California, which at that time was best known for its dairies, prisons, and Dragnet. You can read more about my Chino roots in my post Cops and Cows: Chino in its Hay Day. In any case, I still feel a connection with the town of my youth and little part of that town resides in my t-shirt drawer.

If the number of comments I get is an indicator of a successful logo then this is it. Sara got this for me a number of years ago (I have gone through three of them) from a shop across the street from Tacolicious, her and Joe’s restaurant. The irony is that there are no burritos on the Tacolicious menu. I suppose a slogan like 53 miles per albacore tuna tostada contramar-style (which is my favorite dish a T-lish) would be a bit awkward, not to mention require a much larger shirt.

I got this shirt when Sara was attending UCSC back in the 1990s. It’s the oldest surviving t-shirt in the drawer. Naturally, the banana slug mascot is what moved me to get it. I didn’t learn until later that in 1987 a student rebellion (headed by a sociology student!) was responsible for the banana slug -instead of an administration-backed sea lion – being the official school mascot.

But the kicker for this t-shirt sparking joy came when I saw Pulp Fiction and in one the great scenes John Travolta ended up wearing my t-shirt.

John Travolta in my t-shirt and Samual L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction, 1994

The next t-shirt was designed by my friend Jeff at the Wine Country Cyclery in Sonoma. It combines two of my joys: good wine and a good road bike. What were bike water bottle cages designed for if not to hold a good bottle of wine!

My grasshopper t-shirt (camiseta chapulín)

My final example of a spark of joy tucked in my drawer came home with us from a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico. It sports a large grasshopper, which happens to be appropriate for our BigLittleMeals’ mission – quick and tasty dishes. Chapulines -roasted and spicy grasshoppers- are found in all of the Oaxacan market places. Although not our favorite dish on our visit, they are not nearly as bad as they look (at least to us gringos). But more than memories of these crunchy little critters, this t-shirt is a constant reminder of our love of Mexican culture and cuisine.

So there you have it. My original question was whether or not having 23 logo t-shirts is “too much of a good thing or if it is just a quirky manifestation of my Neanderthal-induced difficulty in discarding rarely-used possessions.” I would argue that those 23 t-shirts have nothing to do with my Neanderthal-ness nor are they too much of a good thing. They are 23 sparks of joy, and you never can have too many of them.

Stay tuned to Andy’s Corner for the next episode – it will knock your socks off.

Will what’s in this drawer spark joy?


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