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 Every article of clothing I own is covered in ink. Thereís a metaphor in there somewhere, but I donít plan on searching all that hard for it.

In college, I developed the bad habit of paying people to do my laundry. That sounds like the luxury of a lazy man, and I suppose thatís what it is, but nevertheless, the time and discomfort it saved me - honestly, is there anyplace on the planet less welcoming and more inherently nasty than a Laundromat? - made it worth the trouble. And in New York, it just makes perfect sense. Iím always busy, running from here to there, frantic, doing something, Iím not sure what, and it makes me warm inside to have the peace of mind that comes with dropping off all my clothes and letting someone else deal with them.

Ordinarily, this works magnificently, but it can have its drawbacks. Itís been a little crazy around these parts lately - Christ, when hasnít it been? - so when I threw every scrap of clothing I own into my large, shit-brown laundry bag and dropped it off at the sweet Korean manís place in SoHo the other day, I didnít give it much thought. Until I picked it up.

ďYou have the ink all over clothes. Pen in pocket. I not able to fix it,Ē I said in my fractured English.

Itís true. I left a fucking black pen in one of my jeans pockets, and now every single piece of clothing - every goddamned one - turns me into a walking Rorshach test. My nice, white Banana Republic shirt, the one my girlfriend bought for me ďso you wonít look so Midwestern all the timeĒ - ruined. I have three pairs of jeans and seven pairs of brown slacks (I am not one for sartorial diversity). None can be worn without me looking like the windshield of an 18-wheeler.

I woke up the other morning, showered, dressed for work and made one last quick look in the mirror. The nifty white shirt Iíd received for Christmas from my grandmother stared back at me. I looked like a Dalmatian.

So here I am. Some would say all my clothes are ruined, but I think thatís a narrow worldview. My main man Eric Gillin wears jeans all the time that are covered in paint. People think itís really cool. He looks kind of punk rock. Maybe Iíll start a fashion trend. The ink look could become the Next Big Thing. They could wear it on Friends.

But if the look doesnít catch on - though, of course, it will - Iím going to have to deal with my least favorite activity, which is shopping for clothes. The unattractive task of replacing my entire wardrobe, particularly in this wintry economic climate, has roughhoused its way up my priority chart. Typically, I donít really care about my clothes. Give me a Mattoon baseball T-shirt and a pair of jeans, and Iím fine-o. But here, you canít get away with that. Iíve been surfing for outside suggestions.

My mother says I should just buy a pair of pants a week from Old Navy. Eric says I should go to the new H&M store in SoHo. Others have suggested the Salvation Army.

I donít really care any which way. I just donít want kids to play connect-the-dots on my boxer shorts anymore. But perhaps Iíve said too much.



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