Today I wore the shirt that elicits cheers from my coworkers.
It's my Hetch Hetchy shirt from McSweeney's. I've told you before about my McSweeney's tshirt subscription. It was a Christmas gift from The Man, and accounts for at least nine-tenths of my decision to let him move in with me.
Before this one arrived on my doorstep, The Man warned me that the artist had pretty much phoned it in. But when I pulled it out of the box, I loved it. I didn't understand it, but I loved it.
Let's be honest: I probably loved it because I didn't understand it. That's just how I roll.
I had every intention of investigating what the hell this Hetch Hetchy thing was (though I wasn't entirely sure it wasn't just some delightfully absurd artist nonsense), but I didn't get around to it before I wore the shirt out of the house.
And here comes the beautiful part of the story, and the reason I love delightfully absurd artist nonsense.
I wore the shirt to my local grocery store, where a young girl passing out samples of cantaloupe gasped and exclaimed: "You've been to Hetch Hetchy?!"
She was clearly excited, so I wasn't entirely sure how to tell her that I didn't even know what Hetch Hetchy was. Turns out it's not easy to explain the concept of a tshirt subscription to a cantaloupe peddler. I confused the hell out of her, poor girl. Then I made her fill me in.
And that is how I learned that Hetch Hetchy is a valley in Yosemite that is currently completely flooded by O'Shaughnessy Dam. It was dammed in the 1920s in the midst of much protest from environmental groups, and there is a substantial Restore Hetch Hetchy movement still today.
That conversation - the fact that I learned the meaning of my shirt in the busy doorway of a supermarket from a girl who couldn't figure out why in god's name I was wearing a shirt for a place I'd never been and knew nothing about - makes this tshirt a huge success.
And then there's the genius snark of the artist who chose to represent Hetch Hetchy with a giant blue puddle. That's pretty successful too.
(That first photo is not of me, though it does accurately depict my appetite. Both photos are from McSweeney's website.)